Jessa Fairbrother is an award winning artist with a practice focussed on feelings and the body, using photography, performance, and stitch. Initially training as an actor (1990s) and completing an MA (Photographic Studies, University of Westminster 2010) underpins her knowledge of how artwork and audience collide. Her expanded use of stitch is underpinned by training in historical hand-embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework through a QEST scholarship received in 2019.

Solo exhibitions include The Photographers’ Gallery, London (The Print Sales Gallery, 2019, who represent her as an artist), and Birmingham City University (2017). In 2020 she was commissioned by Wellcome Collection, illustrating work for their Digital Stories section, and again in 2022.

‘Conversations with my mother’ (2012-16), her study of maternal grief, has been noted for significant contribution to understanding mourning with scholarship by art historian Jennifer Mundy published in Tate Papers (2020) and conference presentation at The Freud Museum, London (2018). A substantial amount of this work was exhibited at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2021, presented as intervention in the main collection for Bristol Photograph Festival.  The artist-book of this work is held in UK / US collections (Tate Britain,  V&A, Yale Centre for British Art, Museum of Fine Art, Houston). Her work is also included in the extensive survey Body (2019) by curator and art historian Nathalie Herschdorfer.

Receiving a-n bursaries in 2016 / 2020, a 2020 Arts Council England (ACE) Emergency Grant, and most recently a Developing Your Creative Practice grant (2021), also from ACE, have supported ongoing research on her long-term work a Fencing Manual for Women.

Other notable mentions include shortlisting for Jerwood Open Makers (2017) and winner of the GRAIN portfolio prize (2017).

Jessa works in Bristol, UK. Sometimes she works in another studio, also in Bristol. There’s a climate emergency.

Portrait © Kirsty Mackay