Selected works by Jamie Shovlin

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Mixed media

Dimensions Variable

Naomi V Jelish’s life story is one of pathos and tragedy.

Her strange tale is explained to visitors on labels, in newspaper cuttings, photographs, school reports and through personal mementoes.

Naomi showed great aptitude for art in the face of complete indifference from her family and school. But in 1991, a few months after her father drowned, Naomi, then 13, her mother, and her four siblings mysteriously walked out of the family home in Gravesend, Kent, and despite extensive police inquiries, none of them has been seen or heard of again. A cutting from the Kent Messenger discloses that in September 1990 Naomi won "the prestigious North Kent Student Art Prize".

In August the following year the paper reported that police were concerned because the family had vanished. Neighbours said the family seemed "cursed". David Jelish, the head of the family and a road mender with Kent county council, had drowned while saving one of the children, another child had recently survived electrocution and Vanessa, the children’s mother, was suffering from a stress-related illness following the death of her youngest son in 1989.

A book accompanying the display at the Saatchi Gallery goes on to say that Naomi’s precocious drawings were recovered from the abandoned house some time later by the late John Ivesmail, a science teacher at Naomi’s school who had befriended the family. Though beguiled by her sketches, he waited until 1999 to show them in a small exhibition in Gravesend.

Soon after, he passed Naomi’s pictures to a friend, a young artist called Jamie Shovlin, who curated an exhibition of the drawings, along with all Jelish memorabilia recovered from their house and the newspaper cuttings.

The story of Naomi is moving, but it is a hoax, the products of the imagination of Shovlin, 25, from Leicester, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, who spent three years creating the fantasy.
He produced the drawings, the cuttings, the school reports et al in order, as he explained, "to test the boundaries of ambiguity".

Naomi V Jelish and John Ivesmail are anagrams of Jamie Shovlin.

Text by Nigel Reynolds

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks

Jamie Shovlin
Naomi V Jelish

2004

Extraneous Drawings, Private Sketchbooks & School Sketchbooks


Other Resources

riflemaker.org
Images and information of Jamie Shovlin

riflemaker.org
Exhibitions, works and images by Jamie Shovlin

naomivjelish.org.uk - The official website of Naomi V Jelish
In July 1991, 13-year-old Naomi V. Jelish and her family mysteriously vanished from their home in Kent, after a tragic year in which her father died after attempting to save her younger brother from drowning. Shortly after the family's disappearance, John Ivesmail, a retired science teacher at Naomi's school, unearthed a collection of the teenager's remarkable drawings.

naomivjelish.org.uk - Introduction by Jamie Shovlin
When Riflemaker offered me the prospect of displaying the work of Naomi V. Jelish arranged according to my good friend John Ivesmail’s wishes, I admit I jumped at the opportunity. John passed away in 2002 and left with me both the collection of Naomi’s drawings he possessed and the materials he accumulated in his attempt to mount an exhibition of her work (itself enough for a further exhibition).

naomivjelish.org.uk - Naomi V. Jelish by John Ivesmail
When the Parish committee offered me the opportunity to prepare an essay detailing my recent efforts in reuniting the disparate collections of the previously unknown Gravesend artist, Naomi Jelish, I do not hesitate in admitting that I leapt at the prospect.

riflemaker.org - Jamie Shovlin at Tate Britain, In Search of Perfect Harmony
Jamie Shovlin opened the Riflemaker space in May 2004 with his exhibition Naomi V. Jelish; an investigation into the life and collected archive of a twelve year old artist from Gravesend, Kent, who disappeared in 1991. The exhibition consisted of drawings, letters, school scrapbooks, a wall-size timeline pinboard and other documentary material about the prodigiously gifted child.

cca.rca.ac.uk
In 1991, the thirteen-year-old Naomi V. Jelish and her family mysteriously vanished from their home in Kent, never to be seen again. Shortly after their disappearance, John Ivesmail, the retired science teacher at Naomi’s former school, discovered a clutch of her sketchbooks.

newcontemporaries.org.uk
Fictional alter-egos are a strange species in art; a form of liberation from being responsible for your output, in a profession that can’t help itself when it comes to privileging the individual.

tate.org.uk - Art Now: Jamie Shovlin
Jamie Shovlin is interested in the tension between truth and fiction, reality and invention. His painstakingly researched and executed works combine inherently flawed systems, pseudo-scientific exactitude and doubtful philosophical propositions with the seemingly objective experience of the archive.

artlab.org.uk - This Much is Certain - workshops report by Peter Bonnell
Together the four parts that comprised This much is certain explored the significance of the document and the documentary in contemporary art and contemporary society, focusing on how documents are usually relied upon by the public to be trustworthy and factual.

news.telegraph.co.uk
Naomi showed great aptitude for art in the face of complete indifference from her family and school. But in 1991, a few months after her father drowned, Naomi, then 13, her mother, and her four siblings mysteriously walked out of the family home in Gravesend, Kent, and despite extensive police inquiries, none of them has been seen or heard of again.

tulliehouse.co.uk
Virtual tour - Naomi V's Jelish- Jamie Shovlin