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.
Less than one week to go and I’m feeling quite anxious for what lies ahead. I didn’t know how it would feel to be on an artist’s hiatus, whether I would miss making art or not. I’ve found myself quite contented over the last six months just listening and learning, not making anything. Now I’m confronted with what to do once it ends and I’m quite dreading this actually. I’ve really enjoyed being on-hiatus.
I’d like to blog and create reports after the residency ends. I will let the co-directors know if I set this up so they can share it. I think once I become more active in the process of the renovating (I’ve barely scraped the surface , but it’s a start) people would like to follow it. Through my research I’ve discovered there’s a huge community of renovators out there and folks especially interested in heritage buildings, there’s a huge appreciation for this type work and I’d like to become more active within these circles. There’s still a lot of knowledge and resources required to move on with it.
In terms of going back to my usual art practice, I have had some moments where I’ve thought about painting and so I wonder if come November I’ll be inspired to pick up a brush again. I’ve been thinking about a new method to work in and so I’m pretty excited to try this out. As well the sound poetry band wants to get started again. When I think about regular sound poetry practices it makes me nervous because I think about all the time rehearsals take up. I ask myself would this be the best use of my time? We’ll see how I fare in a couple of weeks. Rethinking my painting practice has made me realize that I hold a lot of resentment towards my paintings and sketchbooks because they take up so much room, both physical and emotional space. In an ideal world all of my paintings would find a home and I would be relieved of their presence. There is an abundance of things in the world, certainly an abundance of art, and it’s this fact that makes me question the validity of art sometimes. I once had an art teacher who encouraged her class to get rid of 90% of our artwork. Remove the old to make room for the new? I can see the benefit in minimalist living, I really can.
Now, finally for a house update: the clean-up date the bylaw gave to have the exterior grounds tidied up has come and gone. The grass was cut short which was a satisfactory result for them and other odds and ends disposed of. Although I do think it’s ridiculous that bylaw can enforce certain rules on a property/landowner, this outdoor cleanup was long overdue and for that reason I’m glad for the kickstart. Not everyone is so complacent to these bylaws though as I’ve found out, in 2013 a man in the same area who also received a complaint fought it and made recommendations to the bylaw. His case was taken seriously and the 12 year old bylaw was going to be reviewed and a report made public. This man realized that there are problems with the policies after he saw a monarch butterfly on his property – he knew that if he were to cut his grass he’d be destroying the butterflies habitat. I’m not sure what’s happened to the report that was supposed to come out of this, if it’s out yet or not, but I’ll find out. I hope that whomever is in charge will come to the conclusion that in a rural area it’s particularly ridiculous that land and property owners are expected to treat their properties like doll houses with manicured lawns.
I also have more to add to the theft discussion : over the last couple of weeks something was taken from the property, nothing too important but it’s still disheartening that someone would do that and creepy.
Over the last five (now six) months of my residency I’ve developed a substantive reading list that has accumulated over time. Some of these books I already had on my bookshelf and some I have discovered along the way. I quickly realized that the nature of this residency encompasses a vast range of subjects and while at first I was a little overwhelmed by the vastness of these materials I’ve come to embrace and allow myself to dive into them, because they are all relevant. Thank you to individuals and to my own intuition for leading me to these sources – the list keeps growing but that means ideas are alive and I’m actively working when reading.
Flint & Feather, The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake by Charlotte Gray
The Archaeology of Home, An Epic Set On A Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider
Informal Architectures Space and Contemporary Culture by Anthony Kiendl
Sandbanks, Exploring the Dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park by Jayson Childs, Phil Ainsworth, Joanne Dewey and Yvette Bree Figure in Place/Figuring the Landscape by Frederick Hagan
Curationism, How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else by David Balzer
The Settler’s Dream, A Pictorial History of the Older Buildings of Prince Edward County by Tom Cruickshank and Peter John Stokes
Canada A Portrait In Letters, 1800-2000 by Charlotte Gray