Seljak Brand x Jenna Lee's Campfire blanket is a reflection on transformation

Seljak Brand x Jenna Lee's Campfire blanket is a reflection on transformation

Jenna Lee is an endlessly inspiring artist and dear friend with whom we've created a very special limited edition blanket, which reflects the transformational and connecting element of fire. Jenna's practice is focused on ancestral material culture, working with notions of the archive, histories of colonial collecting, and settler-colonial books and texts. Her work ritualistically analyses, deconstructs and reconstructs source material, language and books, transforming them into new forms of cultural beauty and pride. Here we chat with Jenna about her work and the beautiful Campfire blanket design.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your cultural connections.

I am a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman, and Karrajarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Anglo-Australian ancestry. I have a background as a graphic designer specialising in book cover design and I am a practising contemporary artist. 

Left: Jenna beside her work at the NGV Right: Jenna in her studio by Jade Florence.

Tell us about your art practice.

My art practice spans various mediums, including sculpture, installation, photography, and body adornment. I explore overlapping identities, challenge historical archives, and deconstruct colonial objects, creating art that reflects both the beauty and complexities of cultural narratives.

What is the meaning of your artwork for the Jenna Lee x Seljak Brand Campfire blanket?

The artwork for the Jenna Lee x Seljak Brand Campfire blanket is a reflection of rebirth, transformation and connection. I wanted to make a work that both told a story and gave insight into where I imagined the blanket being used. 

For me, connecting over a campfire is a core aspect of my family life. At my parents' house, we all gather around the fire and talk and catch up. I wanted to imagine my Seljak collaboration blanket being used there – on our laps as we spent time together. 

Fire plays a huge role in my art practice more broadly, I see it as a beautiful and dangerous force of regeneration and a means for transformation. 

You often work in the fine arts space, reconstructing paper works such as offensive colonial texts into beautiful cultural celebrations, like exquisite dilly bags. How has this fundamental practice informed your artwork for the Seljak Brand blankets? And your process generally?

Aside from over a decade-long friendship with the Seljaks, I was initially drawn to collaborating over our shared vision for using what exists and transforming it into something new, that shares a new story with beauty and longevity. In my practice, I reconstruct colonial texts into objects of cultural pride and beauty through very physical processes of translation - I make string, weave, pulp, burn and reshape the pages of the books to make them into something new.

For the collaboration my 'canvas' was already a material that was being transformed, so I looked towards my own process. Fire is a process and material I use often and I wanted to use this opportunity to depict its beauty and warmth. 

Your creativity knows no bounds! Whether it's graphic design, sculpture, moving image, or installation, you're comfortable across so many mediums. What's drawing you in these days… and what's next for you?

As I'm crafting these responses, I'm simultaneously working on my application for a practice-based research PhD! This has been a long-time aspiration, and it just feels like the perfect moment to take this focused next step. My research journey will intertwine my art and design practices, centring on the exploration of translating colonial texts through the unique perspective of Larrakia language. 

Jenna's blanket design was produced as a limited edition of 4 blankets and given to her own friends and family. 

See more of Jenna's work on her website

Back to blog