Fremantle Biennale – Jessee Lee Johns’ South Mole Resort at Commonwealth of New Bayswater

Resort photography by  Deanna Shanahan

Written by Michael Barker

Jessee Lee Johns, a Freo artist, has come up with one of the most original ideas the Fremantle Biennale is ever likely to see – a pop-up resort, with services, for paying guests, at South Mole!

Largely made from scavenged materials, as our accompanying photographs show, the structures are solid and quite beautiful in their own way. But it is an ‘installation’ in the modern artistic sense in the word , although rather than just look at it, you can live in it.

The Resort is part of Jessee’s ‘Commonwealth of New Bayswater’, effectively a place inhabited and controlled by him alone – although he grants you permission to step over the border into the Commonwealth, into his world, for a bit. There’s more than a tad of Hutt River permeating the joint!

It’s a place you can shut yourself off from the ‘real’ world in – assuming nearby Fremantle is the real world!

The Resort comprises two accommodation units for couples, Jessee’s two level home with penthouse and superb panoramic views of the harbour and the ocean, a general store, a bank (with CoNB’s own currency that you can buy and spend on the Resort’s custom packaged beer) and a pop-up bar and bistro. What more could you ask for?

One suspects one could live in the Resort for an extended period. I think I actually could!

Well done Jessee for the concept and it’s realisation. Let’s hope it pops back up some time in the future, in some form or another.

Click on our interview by Michael Barker with Jessee below where he explains the Resort and tells us more about himself.

Jessee’s art goes way beyond Resort realisation. Not only does he dabble in installations like this, but also in murals (like that at Freo Social), and he paints. His work is superb. Recently one of his big pieces was acquired by the University of Western Australia. Have a look here at his website.

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