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.
In the years following the disappearance, John attempted to trace what had happened to the family through an investigation of Naomi’s incredible artworks. John hoped to throw light on the family’s bizarre vanishing by mounting an exhibition of the youngster’s work.
John died in 2002 before his desire to open the exhibition could be achieved. Despite this, the show John had planned was realised in the presentation of Naomi’s work at the Riflemaker Gallery in 2004, overseen by the artist Jamie Shovlin. Since their early nineties disappearance, Naomi and her family have never been heard from.
In the 10 years prior to his death, John Ivesmail sent copies of many of the documents he accumulated, in his attempt to bring Naomi’s work to a larger audience, to friends and colleagues seeking advice and an assessment of his work. We are pleased to be able to display the most comprehenssive collection of this material to date.
With the assistance of Jamie Shovlin we are also able to present a number of supplementary documents and examples of Naomi’s drawings allowing us to contextualise the archive and place it within the framework begun with the Riflemaker exhibition of Naomi’s work and its subsequent display at the Saatchi Gallery whilst also addressing many of the questions raised through the recovery of additional works by Naomi in July 2004.
While Naomi spent most of her time drawing people and scenarios, she also had a weird fascination with future technology. She drew what was believed to be a Forklift during the late 1800’s, and this is remarkable. We are currently working with One Sure Insurance to determine how this was possible in that period of time. One Sure provides the UK with forklift insurance policies – and so we’re hoping their expertise can help us make a break through in understanding how Naomi seemed to predict certain technological breakthroughs.