Art works have always been at the mercy of a subjective eye. While one will see a masterpiece another will invariably say, ‘I could do that’. But, for artists like Juju Roche, exhibiting and selling her work is just a happy bi-product of getting to do what makes her heart soar. Her self-described ‘ethereal figurative landscapes’ pieces are inspired by travels to Africa and Asia and, of course, Australia. A lover of the ocean, everything about Juju exudes that free-spirit energy you’d expect from a visual artist. But, there’s no living too hippy dippy a life – she’s a wife, mother of two, Rosie (2) and Jimmy (1) and very much a business woman. We couldn’t wait to meet with Juju at her home to peek into a life of a different kind of beauty – she’s almost as much in love with a kabuki brush as she is a paint brush. In the midst of debuting her latest exhibition 'Blue Ain’t Your Colour' at the Pushmataaha Boutique, Paddington, she took the time to take us through her skincare and makeup routines, the lessons her mum taught her and her connection to the natural side of beauty…

“I have painted for as long as I can remember…

… and have always been infatuated with colour and shapes. Growing up I had a framed Matisse print above my bed that I used to stare at endlessly. I remember being mesmerized by the crisp blue and the sharp lines of the cut-out figure. Art stirs up a beautiful, and very distinct emotion within me that I can remember feeling in my childhood years. After school, I went to Sydney College of the Arts and did a Bachelor of Visual Arts. My tutors pushed me conceptually which was frustrating at the time because I wanted technical guidance. But looking back now, I am grateful for the more abstract approach to teaching, as I feel very fluid with my style and like exploring and challenging the concepts behind my work.

Unless I am meeting a client or visiting a gallery I can spend full days in the studio without seeing a soul.

My studio is my place of refuge! It’s where I am if I’m not playing with the kids or gallery hopping. The space is connected to the house which is super handy- when the kids go down for a nap, my work is easily accessible. I now work full time as an artist (around my two delicious kids) and couldn’t imagine myself in any other industry.My focus is on the health and happiness of my kids, my gorgeous husband and the fact I’m able to be around and create art daily. I am very lucky and don’t take these things for granted.

My mum is a very down to earth woman. She instilled in me at a very young age that beauty comes from within.

She has always looked after herself but puts equal emphasis on emotional and spiritual growth and wellbeing. She always encouraged me to be myself and to not follow trends to closely, but to remain authentic to my own style. This advice has been invaluable. Mum looks after her body with relatively natural products and being an active country woman, keeps her skin safe from the sun. For me, being a mum of two kids under three, there are very few days I look in the mirror and think gosh…I’m looking fresh! But what has stopped me from ‘resisting ageing’ to this point is the thought of going through with cosmetic procedures but then never being content with the outcome and always wanting more. Ageing is a fact of life and our lines tell a story and I am comfortable with them at the moment.

I try to wear natural products where I can.

One brand I love is Aesop. My fave product is their aluminum free deodorant. It smells amazing and it also lets your skin breathe. Another natural product I’ve become a little bit obsessed with is RMS beauty balm, the ‘living luminizer’. This product is 100% natural (coconut oil and pigment) and is a terrific highlighter for the upper cheekbone. It’s also compact so super easy to pop in the handbag if heading out.

After having children my pigmentation was quite noticeable…

… so I grabbed a few serums to help treat that. I think with time it fades regardless, but sometimes you just need to feel as if you’re speeding up the process! The Lancome Multi-Liftis another product I use (generally under the eyes) to help hydrate the bags after what may have not been a full night’s sleep! (Kids!) While pregnant, I kept my skin as supple as possible by oiling up with Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body TreatmentBio Oil or rosehip oil. Like most women I was terrified of stretch marks so I had oil baths and moisturised my hips and tummy most days. I don’t know if this is why I didn’t get stretch marks but I’m sure keeping my skin super hydrated helped. And I never leave the house without my sunnies (particularly my Michael Kors) and a leather tassel purse my mum had handmade in Bali.

ecause I swim in the beach do laps in the pool, my skin can get rather dry…

…so a bit of a theme that runs through my products is how much a moisturise. The Mecca Hydrating Moisturiser is what I mix the Juno face oil with in the morning or after swims. I like that it doesn’t have a strong scent and it gives me a healthy complexion. It also sits really well under makeup. Witch hazel is a natural product my mum introduced me to at a really young age. Totally accessible and reasonably priced. I use it to cleanse, tone and take off makeup. If I’m out and about in the sun I generally wear La Roche-Posay after moisturising. I like Laura Mercier bronzer, and always eyeliner. I generally try and have my eyelashes tinted, so will only wear mascara if I’m heading out at night or to an event. I love the texture and protection of Santa Maria Novella SPF lip balm.

I have wild hair…

… and when I’m not in the studio I am at the beach, so one way I calm my mane is by applying Moroccanoil to my end after a swim or a shower. That combined with O+M shampoo, conditioner and treatment keep my hair hydrated and under control (most of the time). I try and do a Skin Republic Detox Charcoal face mask every now and then to freshen up and feel the charcoal based formulas work the best for my skin type. The O&M detangler usually stays in my swimming bag – a necessity once the cap comes off! Because I swim a lot in the ocean, I use a leave-in treatment/conditioner after swims and between washes. Or I leave it salty – I love the fresh feeling of salt in my hair and on my skin.

I have always been an active person…

I love swimming and running, and try and squeeze in a few pilates sessions each week. The reformer pilates has been really beneficial for me (while pregnant and post pregnancy) to maintain and then improve my core strength. During summer, I swim every day down at Bronte or laps at Bondi Icebergs. From a competitive point of view, I enjoy Sydney’s coastal ocean swims over the summer months. I was definitely a water creature in my first life.

I am a massive salad fiend and think I am probably a top 10 salad designer in Australia. I’m pretty creative with my ingredients! To beef it up if I’m serving hungry males, I usually throw in some poached chicken or marinated beef. I generally eat well. However, I do have a soft spot for wine and chocolate.

Blue ain’t your colour’ is the name of my upcoming exhibition…

…it came about when I was working on two of my larger canvases (137 x 167cm). I had nearly finished the work…and subconsciously had used 6 tones of blue in the one work. A shudder of fear run down my back as I thought to myself… What if blue isn’t their [the audiences] colour? That is where the title was born. I love working with blue (indigo blue, ultramarine, turquoise, cobaly blue etc) and at the end of the day you hope to sell your art. But, you can’t purely paint to suit an audience. You’ve got to paint from the heart and hope that that the concept and passion is felt through the works.”

Juju exhibited Blue Ain’t Your Colour with a sell out show and will be exhibiting at The Other Art Fair in Sydney 26-29 October

Book tickets for the fair and more info here.

Story by Rikki Hodge-Smith; Interview by Sigourney Cantelo; Photography by Myles Pritchard

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