Feeding off a lifelong fascination with the natural world and animals, Jodie Smith’s practice is an ongoing examination of the many human interactions which are generated alongside these. Exploring both the sanctity and turbulence which surrounds these encounters, her work customarily develops an ecological narrative, culminating in a deep-set belief that we lack a cultural understanding of our place in the natural world. Through the development of life-size marionettes, Jodie captures the experience of cruelty-free animal encounter and creates a space in which a connection and respect for non-human life and personhood can come about in a non-anthropocentric way.
Smith has always seen her art practice as an attempt to capture nature in a non-invasive way. Once this was mainly manifested through figurative art, painting and drawing. However, this became problematic due to the incredibly diverse and deeply preconceived nature of animal interpretation from person to person. Static images, even at a larger, mural scale, weren’t allowing the presence of the animal to really strike audiences in any meaningful way so as to create potential for new understanding. However, the puppets allowed her to consider recreating the experience of tangible animal encounter, shifting unpredictably on invisible strings, bordering between the domestic and the unruly.