Jill Bryson is currently working as a self employed artist in London. In March 2013 Jill returned to making music in a band called The Shapists (details in the blog).
The following biography was written by Pete McArthur around 2000.
Jill Bryson BA – was born in the south side of Glasgow in 1961. She studied for four years at the Glasgow School of Art - a contemporary of Steven Campbell, Ken Currie and Adrian Wiszniewski. After her initial foundation year, Jill studied for three further years in the Mixed Media Department. She obtained her degree in 1983.
The department's brief was broad, allowing her to pursue a diverse variety of interests; photographic, performance art, stained glass, costume design and painting. Jill very quickly became one of the most noticed young artists of her year’s intake; following the Warholian dictate that one should, “be art as well as make art” – she developed a distinctive visual look. Unlike many of her contemporaries, who were following the then fashion for Magic Realism, Jill’s style was resolutely a development of Pop Art – specifically the British Pop Art of the likes of Peter Blake, R.B. Kitaj, Patrick Caulfield and her great hero, David Hockney - who remains to this day – her most discernable influence, in her use of colour and bold strokes.
In her final year at Glasgow, like many an art students before her, Jill took up the guitar forming a duo called “Strawberry Switchblade” – as is often the case, the School of Art and the music scene in Glasgow, were closely linked and Jill was already a recognizable figure on both scenes. Strawberry Switchblade, with their somewhat over the top image, basically an extension of Jill’s Art School persona, (Jill claimed the duo were a pastiche of pop) began to get attention, and began to overshadow Jill’s other art school work. Despite the parody, the duo were almost immediately signed to the Warner Brothers record label, just as Jill was completing her degree show – They would go on to have a top five hit single, from their first LP, and became that cliché of Pop Culture, ‘Big in Japan’ (they are still a cult that still persists to this day).
However, on the eve of the recording of their second LP – just after negotiations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, who was interested in producing their second album, Jill suddenly announced she was quitting the music business. She explained later that for some time she had been disillusioned with the business and the ego wars of pop music, and that the joke of parodying a bubble-gum pop had, for her, worn thin – and, ultimately, she wanted to return to her first love, making art – principally painting.
Since quitting the music scene Jill has continued to work in the mixed media style she developed in art school, doing work in; stained glass, photo-montage, tapestry - and of course her beloved painting. Having been as she says “not particularly impressed by celebrity” she continues to work low key at whatever takes her fancy at the time. Jill’s current work is again a discernable devolvement of her first loves - ( she has returned to portraiture ) it is impossible to see her work and not detect the influence of David Hockney (of whom she wrote and recorded a song while in the pop phase) though it has to be said her flower paintings owe more to Louise Bourgeois’ sinister organic forms than perhaps to Hockney’s desert foliage. Perhaps there is also something “confessional” - a little something of the “fleurs du Mal” despite their vibrant colours about these extravagant blooms. A certain religious element has crept into her work recently, witness the icon like halos of her subjects, this with undeniable Japanese influences. Her work is both graphic and figurative – though there is always even in her most playful images a slightly paranoiac edged and a hint of a subliminal wink of misbehavior in her portraits.
Jill continues to live and work in North London doing her own and commissioned work, the most noticable being for Art Collector Gill Perry (for whom she has produced many works) and Chinese pharmaceutical millionaire Qiu Yong.