Ailin Schulz Jones is an artist and alumni of Leeds Arts University MA Creative Practice, she graduated in 2018.
Currently based in Patagonia, Argentina, Ailin's creative work is inspired by life in the wild and concealed cultures around the world. Ailin's key mediums are watercolor and acrylics. In her artwork she entwines nature with culture, making visual storytelling come alive in her work and celebrating cultures in a respectful and conscious way.
Image: Ailin Schulz Jones, MA work, Photo Keeley Stone.
Here Ailin tells us about her practice and where she draws her inspiration, particularly in a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic:
“I find art to be an emotional journey and a medium to visualise and give voice to those who need it the most. When you find a story to tell and there is an emotional connection to it, inspiration strikes. Nature and wilderness are where I find myself, where inspiration flows. 2020 was a special year for everyone, many of us used creative practices as therapy. I was no exception to this, and it made my work more emotional and personal.”
You studied MA Creative Practice what was it that drew you to the course?
I studied Fashion Design in Argentina first. Afterwards I wanted to develop my final project in more depth; my subject was Patagonia and its culture, entwined with the surroundings. I am an admirer of British designers such as Alexander McQueen, I searched in every university in the UK and finally Leeds Arts University was recommended to me, and I found the MA Creative Practice.
The course allowed me to work in more depth and this opened up my mind to different creative directions. The MA had the combination of independent work and also being supported and guided through the journey.
Image: Ailin Schulz Jones, Potranca, 2020.
Was there a memorable experience or project from your time on the MA?
A piece of work that is really memorable was the Thesis/Manifesto, 'Running the Wild'. Which I later published independently. Coming from a more visual practice, doing the writing was a challenge, and a discovery which I found I very much enjoyed. Giving a conceptual framework to the fashion garments and what was painted gave it a different perspective. I believe it added more identity and consciousness to the designs and paintings. 'Running the Wild', the manifesto, rooted my work and also my identity as an artist.
Are there any projects that you remember most specifically?
The final garment designs that were exhibited in the postgraduate show were a conceptual challenge. When you talk and get inspired by specific cultures around the world, you have to be really conscious and respectful. It was a moral and intellectual challenge. You don't want to offend anyone. But I was proud with the final outcome. I also had great help from my tutor, father, mother and teachers.
In 2020 painting was the protagonist, there are specifically three paintings that I'm proud of; first is 'Dynamics', the second one is 'Potranca' and the third one is 'el beso'.
'Dynamics' was one of the first paintings I made during quarantine and was also inspired by horses and the wild. 'Potranca' was a follow up of 'Dynamics', a different technic but same feeling, freedom. 'el beso' was unusual for me because it was inspired by emotions. It had nothing to do with horses, wild life or culture. it had to do with love. After this painting I realised that when getting emotional I get more productive creative wise.
Image: Ailin Schulz Jones, Dynamics, 2020.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me in Patagonia is very much spontaneous, you never know which way the wind blows. After breakfast and a refreshing shower the creative process starts. A big cup of coffee, series or music on the background, getting updated on world news events and we are ready to get creative. Usually I wake up with a painting or design on my mind and quickly have to bring it to life. Then I can spend all day looking, observing and feeling it. Feelings are my compass.
Future plans... we, as a society, are living times of uncertainty. I expect myself to keep studying and challenging my artwork. I would like to go back to UK and to continue studying curation or art criticism in London. Meanwhile I am doing as much art as possible and planning ways of exhibiting them in Bariloche or virtually.
In Argentina we are allowed to travel to some destinations so I am heading down south Patagonia to a ranch. Brushes and acrylics are already in my backpack. A series of paintings will be inspired by this trip and the wild land of the area.
Do you have any advice for current students or graduates wanting to work in your field?
I would say tell your story, your feelings, make it personal. Connect yourself with art in some way. Also challenge yourself daily, this might take your work to different paths you never expected.