Since studying at The Chelsea School of Art, award-winning artist Georgina Bown SSA has successfully engaged with many types of artistic expression, from large scale metal sculpture to various printing and drawing techniques. Now living and working in North Berwick, Georgina is producing strong, bold linocut and monoprint pictures depicting the fantastic land and seascapes that take her attention every day. Georgina has exhibited at the VAS, SSA, RGI and the RSA Exhibitions in Scotland. In London, she has exhibited at The Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Society of Marine Artists and was selected for ‘Masters of Monoprinting’ at Bankside Gallery London. Georgina was also selected for the Derwent Drawing prize She is one of the exhibiting artists at Fidra Fine Art’s next exhibition – Printmaking.
Over the last few years, the work you have produced focuses on creating monoprints. Why this particular media?
After giving up making large scale sculptures and moving to East Lothian to bring up my two sons, I had to channel my creative needs somehow. I’ve always drawn, which links all of my fine art practice. It’s about mark-making as much as anything. The technique I’ve developed over the years has a strong drawing base. Monoprinting enables more marks, more depth and unpredictability; it’s the alchemy of all these elements that attracts me to this medium. You don’t need printing presses or expensive equipment, and the materials are accessible and inexpensive. I could work at home and still be with my two young children. From my very first attempt, I was addicted! The immediacy of a result and the areas of experimenting are endless. I’m very impatient and need a quick result.
How have your life experiences influenced your aesthetic style?
When I moved to Scotland 30 years ago, I would sketch in the streets and produce expressive architectural drawings. There is something about being physically engaged with my chosen creative processes; drawing has always been the backbone of my work and connects everything I do. I also believe printmaking and sculpture have a strong connection in terms of physicality, but also there’s a dirty, smelly workshop environment.
Have other artists or genres influenced your sense of aesthetics?
I visit exhibitions when I can, but there’s not a direct influence by a specific artist. Instead, it’s a mark, a line, a colour combination or a composition. It could be a tiny bit of a painting or drawing that gets my heart racing, and the computer in my head files them all away and releases them over time, but they are always there in the memory banks.
Where is your favourite or most inspirational place?
My favourite places are sat outside the Curling House on Gosford estate, the Pantheon in Rome and the Submarine Museum in Portsmouth. But for inspiration, it’s always looking out to sea – whether from the beach or a boat. The vast monstrous structures of the deep inspire most of what I do. Scale is important – I have to feel the vast scale of these beasts compared to myself.
What did you have to develop, try or learn to create this type of art?
Most of my printmaking is self-taught through experimenting at home. I am constantly pushing the limits developing my technique, and never stop learning. I use the method of inking up a glass plate, placing the paper on top, and then drawing. You can’t lean on
the paper, it pushes the ink on the paper if you do. So
I have to rely on drawing and drawing from the shoulder, which is where freehand drawing is important. There is an element of unpredictability when the paper soaks into the ink; lots of imperfections happen – sometimes, these imperfections make a picture, but they can ruin it too.
The COVID-19 crisis hit arts, culture, and the creative economy hard. Yet, for many, in times of crisis and isolation, the role of art becomes more central to our lives. Has the pandemic and various lockdowns changed your view of art and the way you work?
Lockdown was a guilty pleasure for me, and I know this is true for other artists too. To be given that amount of isolated time with no distractions. I completely immersed myself in my creative response to the pandemic and produced a series of photographic works, a new medium for me, that were exhibited in London. I was restricted to the materials I had, and that limit or hardship was exciting and challenging. I also completed two very large charcoal and pastel drawings. The local art shop Rock & Bird would leave a parcel of pastels on my doorstep when I got desperate for a specific colour – they were wonderful! This situation gave me the space, time, stimulus and opportunity to really focus on new work, and it was a very exciting time. Still, I do realise it was a very stressful and potentially dangerous time for everyone. How do we cope without this outlet?
If you had all the time in the world and unlimited financial means would you create the same art you create today? Or would you create something different?
I don’t think I’d change much, but it would be nice to not worry about money! I’m so lucky my career is what I’d do in my spare time. However, this does mean there are no days off and possibly no days work too. You can’t switch off the compulsion to create; it is a need, a requirement to survive, mentally and physically. With no money restrictions, I think my work would just get bigger and bigger, but the subject matter and the need to convey it would not change. I have been chosen, alongside another artist, to work at a space in Marchmont House during February. Giving me time and space but the money…?
Finally, do you have a favourite piece in the next exhibition?
The exhibition isn’t hung yet, so that’s a difficult question. Still, I’m excited to be exhibiting with some excellent Scottish-based printmakers and working with Fidra Fine Art. They are a great gallery to be involved with, as owner Alan Rae cares about his artists, making the experience even better.