Georgie Hill, @VISIONS
Interviewed by Adam Bryce
Photography by Sam Hartnett
We chat with New Zealand artist, Georgie Hill, on her new exhibition at Visions and pushing materials to their limits.
Concave Iridescence (3), 2020,
watercolour onincised paper, 490 x 450.
Your work is created using traditional mediums, but has a very ‘future’ feel to it. Do you find inspiration from other art and artists?
In terms of watercolour on paper being a traditional medium, I really work to push the materials to their limits, by applying the paint in unexpected ways, and by creating line work by making incisions or perforations into the paper surface, challenging the perceived vulnerability of the medium. I work with a heavy weight Italian hand-made paper, Fabriano Artistico 640gsm, it is 100 per cent cotton but the surface is very smooth to touch. My paintwork and the raised edges of the incisions create a very tactile, almost textile-like surface, a textural nature that is difficult to perceive in images of the work.
I find that I make connection points with other works that resonate with my thinking and
feeling… often from the past, but also current, things that I encounter in fiction, songwriting, art or architecture. I have been researching a number of artists who undertook very early experiments with abstraction and were also active as spirit mediums, such as Madge Gill (1882 – 1961), Georgiana Houghton (1814 – 1884) and Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944). During the making of Concave Iridescence I was also very engaged with the writing of Anna Kavan, in particular her 1967 novel Ice, and some of her short fiction, compiled within the volume Machines in the Head: Selected Short Writing (London: Peter Owens Publishers, 2019). Ice is set during an apocalypse, and deals with climate catastrophe and extreme weather.
This year has been a tricky year to navigate for most, has it felt different creating new work during this time?
I have a home studio, so it has been relatively easy for me to carry on with making work. The support of the C Art Trust over this time has been very helpful in enabling me to continue to focus on working towards this current exhibition at Visions gallery.
Talk us through your new show, Concave Iridescence, for someone seeing your work for the first time? What’s it about?
The work has a diagrammatic feel and evokes ideas such as weather patterns and systems, zones of force or influence, or schematic descriptions. This quote about my work by Andrew Clarke is a good starting point:
“Georgie works thoughtfully and methodically, building her works piece by piece, as if assembling the complex inner workings of a finely-tuned instrument, either musical or scientific — or both. Hill’s works resemble diagrams, although their function is as much lyrical as it is schematic. Her work is perhaps best interpreted in terms of verbs, rather than adjectives, as a sequence of actions taken by the artist: directing, measuring, repeating, sensing, connecting, superimposing. Likewise, the way Hill’s works are made involves multiple layers of painting that react and respond to one another.”
What’s next for you?
In 2021, I will hopefully be undertaking a three-month residency in Tokyo, at Youkobo Art Space, if all goes well in terms of international travel restrictions being lifted. The residency opportunity is funded by The Asia New Zealand Foundation, and was originally scheduled to take place from September to November 2020. In Tokyo, I will be researching the depiction of rain in art forms from Manga and Anime through to Ukiyo-e prints, and learning how to make Rakusui washi — “Raindrop-marked washi”, handmade paper that has been exposed to drops of water during production to create a delicate pattern of holes in the surface.
This project was inspired by an image I saw in 2015 at Suginami Animation Museum, of Anime artist Takayuki Goto cutting straight slanting lines on a cel (transparent celluloid sheet) to evoke a moving image of rain. The image resonated with my watercolour paintings, in which I make incisions into the paper with a craft knife to create lines, like channels through which the paint can bleed.