The Legend of Billy Jack of Diamonds. . .


The origins of the name Jack of Diamonds - six degrees of separation and childhood epithets...

I am often asked about the origins of the name Jack of Diamonds - Jack of Diamonds is almost another name I wear when I find myself a little too close to the workings of my studio practice.

While I have established this place as a venue for the sharing of my creative and enterprising pursuits rather than those of a more personal nature, in this case I will share a little in order to properly introduce the Jack of Diamonds as I find him.

The 'Jack' hails from a time when endearing nick names from my parents were frequently used in place of our given names. I had many, but I particularly liked 'Brianna Jack' - due in equal parts to my desire for a middle name and my tomboy-ish leanings.

Fast forward a little way into my early years of higher education and forays into creative pursuits and you would have found me viewing films from the era of the bombshell. Hitchcock and Howard Hawks film featured on the screens of my living room for many years and while I began watching for academic purposes I soon found myself drawn more to the extraordinary fashions and women of the time. A particular favourite was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. The double show-stopper in this feature is a song called Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, which is performed in two different scenes by both leading ladies with exceptional peacocking of vocal and comedic talents. Hence the 'Diamonds'.

The name Jack of Diamonds was cemented when I fell for the beautiful song Silver Stallion by Cat Power from her Jukebox album. Years on I still find the lyrics and beat resonate with me. The words from this album were constantly played while I sketched, planned, sampled and knitted the range of knitwear I titled ...all is fair and showed as part of my graduate exhibition.

Long after I had named this wonderful adventurer Jack of Diamonds I discovered a rather strange connection of these wildly different elements. I asked my father why he chose the nick name Brianna Jack for me and he introduced me to Billy Jack, a character from a series of (rather B grade) films in the '60s and '70s and in my attempts to watch these I discovered a cameo from Jane Russell and a Cat Power look-alike sharing the screen with Billy Jack. . .
image sources here and here
There you have a little peek into the hatching of Jack of Diamonds... The name is a humble nod to where I have come from but Jack of Diamonds has become more like the character in the song by Cat Power...


The sun is gonna burn into a cinder
Before we ever pass this way again

I'm gonna chase the sky forever
With the man, the stallion and the wind