Georgia Mathewson is an Ottawa, Canada based artist working in the fields of painting, mixed media, drawing, installation and, most recently, sound poetry in the group the Quatuor Gualuor. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art in 2008 from The University of Ottawa and has since been working in groups, collectives and through a solo practice.
Working from a meticulous process, her method is built on both intuitive and rational ways of thinking. One allows for ambiguous and fantastical imagery to unfold, while the other requires decisions to be made according to the boundaries and specifications of her materials. Her upbringing on a farm in rural Ontario informs her work, and she uses this experience to reflect on what it means to be a ruralist living in an urban environment.
On-hiatus Proposal Summary
Upon graduating from art school, Georgia enjoyed a period of fulfilling productivity with a group of other artist friends with whom she formed a collective named "Focus Group." (http://focusgroupart.blogspot.ca) She recalls that there was a great deal of optimism within the group during this period and it was easy to get caught up in the art making process, forgetting that they were all dirt poor, recently graduated, struggling, working artists. The group has since disbanded yet she looks back on these days fondly as one of her most creative periods in her life, and when she felt clearly a sense of purpose and a reason for making art. She has continued to practice art since then yet has carried a feeling that she has been on a kind of hiatus ever since her collaboration with the group ended. Furthermore, even though she continues to define and consider herself an artist, she admits a sense of disillusion towards her career path; there is so much pressure to achieve success, and this profession is all consuming, not allowing one to pursue other interests and desires.
Combined with these feelings was a belief that she should be fixing up her family's run-down farm that has been neglected for years; the same one where she taught herself to paint and where her creativity was nurtured. During her residency at RFAOH, Georgia will spend time raising funds and repairing this farmhouse, preserving a heritage site that just so happens to be her childhood home. She hopes that her on-hiatus project will allow her to leave behind her disillusionment and find a path of purpose again, with a little push and motivation from RFAOH.
Briefly, this is a photo of a letter I wrote in June. I wrote the letter so that I could participate in a meaningful way in a 10 year anniversary for an art gallery, not as an artist but as an individual who once exhibited there. I wanted to participate in a meaningful way but also in a way where I wasn’t breaking the framework of the residency. Perhaps pushing the boundaries a little bit, the letter indicates that it is not an artwork:
“Please don’t confuse this for an artwork. This is not an artwork, just a letter. (…) “Because the framework of my residency stipulates that for 6 months I not make or present art I couldn’t formally submit an artwork to exhibit so I wrote this letter.”
I was nervous about contributing something this way, the residency parameters still had me confused so I thought I should get permission. After discussing my predicament wtih the co-directors I decided to go ahead with the idea and I emailed my letter to the gallery. I believe when I emailed the co-directors about this my mind was already made up but I still wanted to talk it through. My initial contact at the gallery didn’t think it would work because it wasn’t an artwork, however the hanging committee decided to hang it! I got to participate as a non-artist, presenting myself as an artist on hiatus. I confused a few people at the opening who wondered where my artwork was.
The reactions of people when I tell them the nature of this residency is always interesting, an extreme type of Lent I’ve heard. A few have taken great offense, equating it to becoming a nun (not a pleasant thought for some), while others compare it to a spiritual awakening, a tapas. Tapas? The word tapas was new to me, I didn’t know it as anything other than the Spanish cuisine! However, it was explained to me as a yoga term. It is a self-discipline technique and a quick search on Wikipedia lead me to the Sanskrit, meaning “deep meditation, effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude, hermitism or asceticism (…) “the fire that burns within.”
For now I’ll leave it at that.
(Briefly- A(rt)A(nonymous) Report- Day 68)
The letter Blink Gallery decided to hang, the letter indicates it is not an artwork
Thinking about my art practice today. I’m not sure if I should be. Does that make this a confession?
Yesterday when I was on my way to the train station (heading back to Ottawa after spending some time working at the house), we passed a series of brightly coloured round objects on the side of the road. They looked like Christmas balls. Three of them. I caught myself thinking how nice it would be to have them and to incorporate them into an artwork. I haven’t worked with objects like this in a long time, why don’t I anymore? I was very close to asking my driver to turn around so that I could go and collect them. Would it be wrong to pick them up? I had a brief dialogue with myself: “We’re early, it would only be a little detour and they are just garbage at this point, I would be doing the community a service.” I wondered and we passed them by.
In my third month on hiatus I haven’t thought as much about my art practice as I am today. I suppose I did enough of that before going on hiatus. Thinking. Thinking about why I’m disillusioned and why I wanted (needed) this hiatus. A social media stream from my last art show also appeared today, popped up unexpectedly. A reminder of a period not that long ago. I remember, but I’m not tied to this memory. Here I am now thinking about making something new. Is it wrong? Within this thought stream I am also asking myself: Is there something special about an artist’s brain, that I would want to create something with such mundane objects? Or maybe my brain has been trained to think this way. After years of art school and working around artists is it now impossible for me not to think this way? Is it formula or instinctual? The artist’s curse? Geesh, when did not making art become so complicated?
(An almost detour – A(rt) A(nonymous) Report- Day 66)
Days late (did I really not write a report in June?), I apologize to the co-directors Matthew and Shinobu for making them wonder if I was still in this! I wrote to them yesterday to assure them that yes, I am indeed still in this! Time does seem to be passing by rather quickly though. It reminds me of when I was a child and school would let out for the summer, summer always flew by and here we are now already in July! I’ll start my second report by giving a brief update on June.
A lot happened and I can honestly say that I’ve been writing in my head for the entire month but for some reason not writing things down- the words are mostly lost now. It seemed easier, I guess, to just work through everything without taking the time to sit down and write. It’s funny because I found myself speaking to a lot of people about how wonderful the writing aspect of this residency is; that it enables the residents to be creative in other ways. Writing is something that I’ve always enjoyed but I don’t spend much time doing, with the exception of writing some poetry (here and there) and an artist statement, bio etc. I’ll be watching myself more carefully this month, making sure I take the time to physically write. It’s a fantastic way to process thoughts. I believe I have a whole chapter in my head right now about how I’ve been negotiating being an artist on hiatus while working in an art gallery, so look for a report about this in the future! June also presented me with the obstacle of how to find a place within the artworld as an artist on hiatus while not comprising my hiatus status. More about this later too.
Yesterday I went with my mom to pick up a building permit (it cost $100). I didn’t know that this would be a requirement to do work on the house. The house is owned by my family so why would we have to pay the town to renovate it? It turns out that that’s the law. Watch for it- there might also be a report coming about bureaucracy. 😉
The building permit covers the right to build as well as the right to demolish (take down). We’ll be taking down a balcony and another part of the house where the fire was and building around that. The balcony this summer, the other part I’m not sure when, time is limited. Interior work will be done as well.
Yesterday my partner, mother and I also spent time clearing away wild grape vines that have overgrown, growing over and around the house, suffocating the clothesline and a telephone wire. The removal of brush from around the house is integral to the prep work; before doing anything to the exterior brush must first be cleared away. I’ll be focusing on this for the next little while as well as figuring out how to bring a large balcony down! (see photos for more)
Reading other residents reports has made me recognize how much of my own project is tied into memory/history, and so I would really appreciate some direction from the co-directors (readers too) about whether they would like me to write more about this.
Until next time!
(Getting into it- A(rt) A(nonymous) Report-Day 64)
Covered Clothesline How do we approach these?
The grapevine attached itself by tendrils that seemed to mimic the wire of the clothesline
Getting a closer look at how the porch is attached