Georgina Hathway (better known as just George) is a London-based painter living in Sydney for a brief spell to, as she calls it, bash out some work.
I had the privilege of studying with George at National Art School in Sydney and own one and half of her paintings since our time there. George is one of those rare people that would literally give you the shirt off her back.
I was chuffed when I got a chance to write 100 words about her recent solo show, WE, at kind of – gallery for RAVEN Contemporary and that initial interview led to this much fleshier grab of her practice.
Who or what has been one of your greatest creative influences?
My drawing teacher, David Serisier, and, more importantly my painting teacher, Roger Crawford. Roger was a wonderful teacher, precise, exacting, passionate, disciplined, moreover he was very encouraging and had a wry, but not gallows sense of humour. He was perceptive and a man of integrity. I did not realize then how rare that is. You get a lot of quite jaded but still resolutely narcissistic teachers in art schools; he was neither of those things.
David Serisier made me obsessed with plane and precision. I could draw better than most when I went through NAS but Serisier made me really desire the best precision and 3d plane work in my drawing which I can’t seem to shake now. For better or for worse.
I was always interested in cartoons and comics and became fascinated with the work of Phil Hale around the age of 20. It really blew my mind apart. The precise figurative, muscular paintings and the intense viscerality of the subjects. The paintings had power! They had movement yet were static! I am still a massive fan and keep meaning to email him or something but haven’t had the gumption to. Maybe I will this year.
Going to the Musee d’Orsay and encountering Rubens, Courbet, Delacroix and Ingres on my 23rd birthday really invigorated me and I suppose washed away a few doubts I had about the worthwhile-ness of painting. I was always slightly desperately in love with it, as a compulsion really but wondered about it’s limitations. What was the point? Would I really be able to make manifest what I really felt/thought/ the sensation? The ideas? Was the content of the soul really able to be made manifest in any understandable way, have any justice done to it, with pigment on a rectangle? Painting certainly does have limitations, but I don’t worry about them now, because all art does. We can’t ask more of something than what that thing itself is capable of providing.
What do you try to capture in your paintings?
Inner visions, manifestations of the soul. Portraits, comments on the nexus of the city and its inhabitants/complexity of mechanics, engineering, congruence and confluence, Venn diagram, society, web, the individual and the many. Woven relationships, justice, beauty. Really, just the Sense Of The Thing.
Usually images come to my mind’s eye. I see them and then I arrange the objects necessary for me to paint them; I re-create the vision in reality. I heard Nicholas Winding Refn in an interview about Drive describe himself as a ‘fetish’ director, i.e. he makes the movies that he wants to see. I paint things I want to see but I wouldn’t call myself that. For me, fetish has connotations of objectification, of removal of the uniqueness of the entity, the holiness, if you will, from the real thing. It is an almost onanistic pursuit. I don’t really feel that way because I don’t feel a removal, and I don’t need to, or want to have total control over the finished work. It is an impossible thing to realise anyway. I do have images in my mind and naturally I just wanted to make them.
I love painting. The only thing I really hate about it is the solitary aspect. I’m a relational animal and I get lonely.
How is Sydney different from London in terms of opportunities for artists from your experience?
When I graduated from NAS I remember feeling that there were few opportunities for young artists. There were few prizes and few affordable artists studios. The Marrickville/St Peters warehouse scene had not eventuated and it was hard to galvanise people into collectives. It was very old guard. I think that has changed a lot since I’ve been away and there are more opportunities for people to be able to actually practice their art. Whether that necessarily transpires in to cash is another matter.
In London there is a much denser and more Venn-diagram-y vibe. There is more content, some of it bad, some of it good. There is also a much more active street art scene (I don’t understand why there isn’t in Sydney- the weather’s so good!). The recession and subsequent rush for real estate property as assets hasn’t helped at all.
A lot of artists are moving out, going to Berlin or just out of London. London is changing more rapidly than can really be understood by anyone right now and the London we knew and loved is being eroded. But I feel hopeful. I think there are lot of people doing really good stuff. There’s a few big commercial galleries doing the street art thing, there’s some other long-standing galleries such as flowers still showing good painters, there are little galleries such as doomed in Dalston.
There are more friends doing things together, trying to wangle a way through the property investors and everyone else. I think it is becoming increasingly cut throat though.
London’s just more of a melting pot. It has more notes on the scale to play with if you will. But I really don’t know what will happen in London over the next few years.
You have to be brave.
Tell us about mech and what you love about it
I cannot really articulate what I love so dearly about monsters and machines. It’s myth, allegory, hope, power, protector and threat. It’s sort of deeply wired to a sense of justice. Big robots with feelings are just the best.
(L-R) Works from George’s recent solo show, ‘WE’ at kind of – Gallery. https://georgehathway.wordpress.com/