Georgia Mathewson, Canada

Residency Period: 1 May 2015 - 31 October 2015


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." ( 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.

Final Report




recent comments

Back to Basics: Why ask why? – AA Report- Day 121

Balancing a day job with my art practice has always been a challenge. I believe every artist who has a day job has to maintain a balance between the two. Fortunately for me I’ve been able to find ways of connecting my
work to this residency. The fact that I work in an art gallery might make this easier and I feel very lucky for this reason. It makes the balance more manageable. 

This summer there was an exhibition at the gallery based on an artwork by Marcel Duchamp. Working on this exhibition provided the opportunity for me to re-read up on Duchamp – an artist known for giving up making art to play chess. How appropriate. 

I’ve always been interested in Marcel Duchamp. To me, he’s the perfect example of an older era artist whose working method was very contemporary for his time. I studied him in art school. One of my favourite works by him is The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923. I love that it is aesthetically beautiful but at the same time very weird and abstract, and I enjoy how difficult its meaning is to decipher and that he took his time creating it….8 years. 

As an individual Duchamp was very much an intellectual and someone who pushed the boundaries of what it means to be an artist. The founder of conceptual art and installation, it seems to me he was someone who lived and breathed his art practice and I suspect who also lived as if there was no separation between art and life. I can’t say whether I think Duchamp was a good person, I learned this summer about the prevalence of misogyny within the Surrealist movement (a movement he was very much involved in), however, I do believe he was a good artist and there are many ways his working method resonates with me.

When I first started this residency, back in May and even before then, I was really focusing on asking myself the question “Why?”. Why did I want and need to go on this residency? Why was I turned off from making art? There is reasoning behind this question, but what I’ve come to believe lately is that it is not always necessary to ask it.

Duchamp once said: Artist’s often do things without knowing why they do them (…), I never ask myself why. ( contemporary-art.html). I like this statement because it gives artist’s permission to be unsure. It was drilled into me in art school early on that artist’s should be able to answer the question why. That an artist owes this to their audience. I have a problem with this notion that everything must be explained or understood. As an artist and as a viewer I don’t think whether you know or don’t know makes something more or less relevant. Artists should allow themselves the freedom to make (or not make) without asking why. There is merit in simply doing because there isn’t always an immeditate answer, and there might not be an answer at all, which is okay. Besides, even if there is an answer it might not make sense to everyone. Our obsession with asking why is like saying that everything must be logical in order for it to make sense. If this were true a lot of great art wouldn’t be made and I wouldn’t be on this residency writing this because when I think about it it was actually completely illogical for me to stop making art when I did. I’d just finished a painting series and had plenty of more ideas but something inside me told me to take a step away.

Duchamp (like me) was a painter but he got bored with painting so moved onto other ways of making/not-making. His ideas opened doors for generations of artists, allowing them to break away from traditional notions of what an artist/art is. Speaking from personal experience I know that it’s easy for artists and non-artists to forget or maybe some do not even know that it’s okay to step away from something if it’s no longer fun. When something’s not broke you don’t fix it but what Duchamp’s legacy has shown us is that it’s okay to reinvent the wheel, no pun intended.

(Back to Basics: Why ask why? – A(rt)A(nonymous) Report- Day 121)


    Marcel Duchamp playing chess, 1952   and   The Bride Stipped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,1915-23 

Leave a Comment (3)

Georgia wrote on Oct 3:

That's weird...I must have written your name, Kelly, when I wrote my comment below!

Kelly wrote on Oct 2:

Haha, exactly- I believe also that sometimes we think we know what we're doing but we really don't.

Kelly wrote on Sep 30:

Yes! Loved this. In a workshop I took a few summers ago, the instructor said as soon as I knew what I was doing, I should throw the piece out - try to get uncomfortable with the unknown.