Nature Inspires and Sustains
Currently based in Tannum Sands, Georgina Hooper is a visual arts lecturer and professionally practicing artist. Her contemporary works connect deeply with her practice-led research into the Chinese landscape painting technique. With gallery representation and collaboration with fashion label Dogstar, you will find our catch up with Georgina to be inspiring, truthful and fascinating.
Can you explain your artistic technique and how it has evolved over the years? ~ My work and its associated technique has really evolved largely because of my continued academic study of art. Going to China as a research scholar was a key turning point for me artistically.
My recent academic and practice-led research into Chinese landscape painting and the sublime is what really honed my technique. I work with five calligraphic strokes and indelible mark making. These are techniques synonymous with the Chinese landscape painting tradition. I also approach my practice like the Ch’an Buddhist landscape painters of the Northern Sung period. They created their art as a form of concentrated mediation.
I use oils on linen and also work with ink and watercolour on ricepaper. I’ve recently been working with an apple pen and iPad to test my colour palettes first. This inclusion of technology has been a really helpful addition, but my true work happens in the studio, in solitude and silence. Music is too influential on my mood and thoughts.
I’m always continuing my theoretical research. At the moment I’m reading about the science between Zen and the brain and how art can facilitate peak experiences.
Where are you based and how have you engaged within the community? ~ My family I recently moved from Brisbane to a little coastal village six hours north called Tannum Sands. Its been an amazing opportunity for me to really concentrate on my art and family. I am pretty reclusive. Like the hermits of Chinese landscape painting tradition, it takes a lot to get me out of my cave (studio). Being a full-time Mum to our two year old means there is little time for anything else. On the weekends it becomes Daddy daughter time and I shut myself in the studio and work.
Who are your biggest influences? ~ Chinese painter-critics from the 6th century onwards, the Ch’an Buddhist landscape painters from the Northern Sung period, and Modernist’s colour field painters Mark Rothko and Kenneth Noland. The influence of Modernism in my work is present in the way I have approached Chinese landscape painting abstractly. I really resonate with Mark Rothko and his belief in the effect of colour on the mind and the idea of art as a spiritual thing. Art as a spiritual practice is something that is integral to the Chinese landscape painting tradition too. My biggest influence of all though is nature. I love surrounding myself with nature. It inspires me and sustains me.
How do you plan and develop a body of work? ~ It’s a very organic process that is also reigned in with practical boundaries. I choose the sizes I want to work in, keeping this relatively consistent to two or three sizes. My visual language has certain rules to it but there is always variation that this allows for. One painting rolls into another just as one body of work gives birth to the next. As I work on one painting, ideas for the next paintings bubble up. I take notes and hold the ideas in my mind and then implement them as I go. It’s important to remain flexible, but also stay focused on my initial intention. Then it's about the space you plan to show your work in and that is what governs how many I do in the body of work. This time, with the infinity series though, I don’t feel like the body of work will be capped at a number. I am just going to paint this series until there is no more to paint. It might be a decade of painting before that happens. It might be even ‘infinite’. That’s why the works are untitled and are just numbered. I want to know how many I end up doing.
What does success mean to you? ~ Success to me is living authentically and peacefully. Being filled with a sense of ease and happiness and health and seeing my family living and feeling the same. Artistic success is part of an authentic life for me. Making art is who I am. I eat, breath and sleep it. Selling enough work to afford to keep making art as a living is important, but having galleries that will exhibit your work is vital. Art is a language with which I connect with people and communicate. For me, having a dialogue with people through my art, connecting with an artistic community through my work and making an intelligent contribution through meaningful work is really vital to me living a happy life as an artist.
Where can people find you and your work online? ~ I am represented by two galleries. Onespace Gallery in Brisbane and Nissarana Galleries in Hastings Street, Noosa. I have a website but my Instagram and Facebook are probably more up to date at the moment.
What have been your biggest challenges within the creative arts sector? ~ The biggest challenge for me was to develop a business mind! Longevity in the creative arts means thinking beyond the creative and philosophical. It means tax, costs and sales, merchandise, sales platforms and promotion. Nutting out how to run your creative practice like a business without compromising your artistic integrity was the shift for me from someone who created art to a professional artist.
It took me quite a few years to realize that being a professional artist is also being a small business owner. It was really uncomfortable for me at first to make finance in anyway part of my artistic practice. I didn’t think about cost or profit, I just did my creative work. Art and finance didn’t seem to belong together. But after I stopped work as a university lecturer and became a Mum, the external source of money to pay for my expensive art materials stopped and I realised to have any longevity in this creative industry you need to be savvy about business.
How did your designs end up on the dogstar clothing range in 2016 and how was it received by the public? ~ It came from mutual respect really. We love what each other does and when I met Masayo (Yasuki) at her Woolloongabba studio, it was pretty instantaneous that we wanted to work together on something. Our coloration was wonderfully received and it was great experience. Actually I was just chatting to Masayo the other day and we are planning another exciting collaboration soon.
What are your other interests and do they cross-over into your arts practice? ~ Travel, health, philosophy and Eastern art practices.
I am very interested in health and well being, learning and developing as a human. I practice meditation and yoga everyday and have been vegetarian for almost 30 years. I believe creative practice has a role to play in health and well being. I love artistic exchange and go to Japan and China as often as I can. Travelling in artistic communities and learning about traditional historical art practices from the East is a big part of what I love and what I do.
What are your plans for the next 12 months? ~ I have a group exhibition at Brisbane gallery Onespace this October. There is an article I’m writing for the TAASA Review on my latest work and another on women artists and cottage industry. Something exciting in the works with Dogstar will be eventuating and there is always more painting happening. My family and I will hopefully take a trip to Hong Kong and Japan at the end of the year. I have some very dear ceramicist friends who I want to visit in Japan and my husband’s family are in Hong Kong. I’ve also been thinking about starting my PhD at the beginning of next year and yeah, I have to update my website too. Never a dull minute here! There is not enough time in one lifetime to do all that I want, but I am doing my best to make the most of the time I have.