Jess began her foray into stencil art in 2005, first exhibiting her work in 2008, and has spent most of her time toiling over a table ever since. Under the pseudonym 23rd Key, she creates photo-realistic stencils, taking no short cuts and cutting everything by hand. With a background in printmaking, graphic design, audio engineering and currently studying Architecture, she brings the knowledge from each of these into her already photo-realistic style.
She hand carves each doily-like layer, and this attention to detail has become a trademark of her work, winning her the Australian Stencil Art Prize in 2011 and world Stencil Art Prize in 2014. The nation’s highest accolade for stencil art was only fitting for an artist who is at the forefront of her medium. Working with only 9 layers or fewer on any one piece, she doesn’t believe it’s the number of layers a stencil has that lends to her stunningly photo realistic images, but the amount of detail cut into each individual layer. Breaking ground in her medium, she is one of the few stencil artists to incorporate 3D and free hand elements into her works. 23rd Key excels in breaking the rules of the stencil medium and approaching it in a way none of her peers have before.
In 2011 23rd Key held her first solo show, ‘Skills to Pay the Bills’, showcasing her ground-breaking 3D works, coupled with her already renowned photo-realistic street scenes and portraits. She followed this with her second exhibition in 2014, at Juddy Roller, titled ‘Keezus’, which focused around the theme of ego and explored works that related to the human condition, a theme that was so vast that a second show ‘Keezus: The Second Coming’ developed and launched in February of 2017.
At the age of 29, she is still in the early stages of her art career and has already won a number of prizes and accolades, including the 2017 Emerging Artist award at Forty-Five Downstairs and inclusion in Sydney’s longest running charity auction event ‘Project 5’ in 2014. Having such a distinct style, it’s easy to distinguish her work from the rest. As one of the few women at the forefront of a predominantly male-dominated medium, she is a jack of all trades, and a master of some.