Jessica Danz is a performer, composer and visual artist currently based in Scotland. A vocalist and versatile multi-instrumentalist, she brings together classical and folk elements in an experimental, virtuosic style. Known for her finely crafted songwriting, she writes and performs solo material for combinations of voice, violin and piano, as well as ensemble works and live scores for theatre, dance and silent film. As a visual artist she employs a variety of mediums including painting, printmaking and textiles, and explores ways in which the diverse elements of her artistic practice might be intertwined to create interdisciplinary performance works.
Born in Perth, Western Australia, Jessica began piano lessons at the age of seven and violin lessons a year later. She was accepted into full time tertiary study on the violin at the age of fifteen, and on the completion of her degree was awarded the Vose Concerto Prize, the Edith Cowan prize for most outstanding performance graduate, and was a national string finalist in the ABC Young Performers Competition. Following a year's postgraduate study at the Australian National Academy of Music, she explored a wide range of freelance work, including solo performance, chamber music, recording, improvising and teaching.
In 2002 Jessica turned more seriously to composition, finding a distinctive voice through a combination of classical, folk and minimalist styles. She wrote a series of solo works for violin and voice, and ensemble works such as Mosquito War Dance, which was premiered at the Perth Concert Hall in 2003. In 2004 Jessica recorded her first album Nightfall, touring in Australia, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Italy.
Over the next few years she performed extensively as a chamber musician with ensembles including Duo Ipkendanz-Yong, the Pi Ensemble and the Yarra Trio; and worked in theatre as a performer, composer and visual artist, receiving a 2008 Green Room Award for Best Sound Design in Independent Theatre. In 2009 she was awarded the Corinna d’Hage Mayer Memorial Scholarship at Melbourne University, completing a Master of Music Performance in 2010.
Although her busy music career took the foreground for many years, between 2011 and 2015 Jessica was able to dedicate herself to a full-time visual art practice. Initially focusing on painting and drawing, she also pursued her deep fascination with textiles as a medium, investigating ideas of the garment as a skin or a habitat, and the capacity of found materials to act as powerful repositories of memory and history. A strong interest in connections between person and place led to a series of explorations through the Australian landscape, where she was artist in residence at the Vancouver Arts Centre in Western Australia, the Central Greenough Historic Settlement and Watch This Space in the Northern Territory, as well as undertaking self-directed residencies in Tasmania, and the Darling Ranges and South-West regions of Western Australia. In 2012 Jessica curated and presented a group exhibition at the Kidogo Gallery in Fremantle, and held solo exhibitions at the Vancouver Arts Centre and the Kurb Gallery in Perth. In 2013 one of her textile works was selected for the national exhibition Art Quilt Australia, at the Craft and Art Design Gallery in Canberra.
By 2014 she began to return to music and performance, travelling through Europe and Scandinavia in 2015 and 2016 to undertake residencies and skills development, and to further explore the creation of new interdisciplinary performance works. She began to document a series of live performances in diverse locations such as mountains, sailing ships, sea caves and ancient churches, as well as developing concepts for several solo shows combining performance, composition and visual elements. In 2017, while living in the Outer Hebrides, Jessica was commissioned by An Lanntair's Faclan Festival to create a live piano score for the early Icelandic film Ísland í Lifandi Myndum, and the work was then installed as part of the exhibition SSA & VAS TOGETHER at the Royal Scottish Academy. In 2018 Jessica was awarded a Creative Scotland Muriel Spark 100 grant to write a new work for string quintet, premiering the work with the Brodick Quartet at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.
2019 projects include the release of three new albums, the development of a dramatic song cycle inspired by journeys between Australia and Scotland, and the creation of a new series of paintings and textile works.