Jillian Lee Adamson


Untitled, HD film with sound

My world is 667 square feet big. I have a window in the front that looks out upon a shuttered pub and another window in the back that looks out upon a carpark, some houses, and in the very tippy toppy distance: the sea.

I have been outside 21 times in 385 days.

Three-hundred-and-eighty-five days.

My artistic practice has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic. My world has become a cacophony domesticity and doing everything possible to keep my ever-present anxiety at a level that still allows me to function, at least a little.

My ability to take up the reins of domesticity has served as an unwished for, but much needed, safety blanket.

I also use my ears to escape onto spaceships where I travel to Mars and exoplanets still only named scientific gibberish today, and to periods of human history when the last pandemic was the Black Plague.

In her book, My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki’s main character states:

“I bought a People magazine at the airport and read it very carefully on the plane, cover to cover, every word of it; I cannot recall a single story I read during the five-hour flight, but I cannot remember having a single thought of my own, either, and that was the point.”

I used to think that was why I read–to protect myself from my own thoughts. However, I have discovered the stories often seep into my work. Through reading, I am searching the fictional past and dystopic future to make sense of the present. I am seeking the truth of my maternal ancestors, of my epigenetically inherited emotional trauma.

Armed with an archive of footage spanning 34 of my 43 years, I am sifting through my brain’s unreliable narration to sort reality from fiction.

With textiles, I am exploring my fragility, investigating my anger and pain… traversing my struggles and making public the naked, vulnerable truth of my existence, whatever that might be.

The last 385 days have found me hiding from the world beneath a repurposed duvet that has become covered in the poorly quilted landscape of my psyche; ridges and furrows and torn threads lay waste to a field of broken sewing machine needles.

As I pace around my 667 square feet, I want people to know that I am here… I want to scream from my window to the people walking by that this pile of laundry and discarded sourdough starter do not encapsulate my identity.

But instead, like my foremothers, I will quietly sew (on Mars).