Brooke Georgia – Artist Talk

Hi, My name is Brooke Georgia.

I am an artist living and working just outside Christchurch in Loburn. I work in drawing and installation sculpture

My artists statement usually works around these lines-

My work looks at aspects and experiences of loss of control and the binaries of passivity and violence. I am interested in the visceral and work that stands purposefully with its ownvulnerability. I draw and manipulate materials in a manner that is challenging and curious,using the familiar to distort perceptions and cultivate instincts.

So even before the earthquake my work had these themes of loss of control andvulnerability, and assimilation of my experience. The earthquake has made me get morecomfortable with the fact that a lot of my work is essentially driven by loss.


I made this group of drawings that are in the exhibition in Sendai, in the caravan that was our home for a couple of months after the earthquake. They were the first drawings I didafter the Quake. As Iʼm sure you know, drawing is a wonderfully immediate and low techprocess, and it felt amazing that I could still work given we had just lost our home and my studio,and that people had lost their lives. Looking back at that time through thesedrawings Iʼm surprised at the level of humour thatʼs present in the drawings.

Our large building was an old factory, that my partner and I had converted in our home andstudios. The was also studio space for several other artists. The february quake left theentire building a write off. It felt like we lost a lot but the bottom line is we didnʼt lose each other. I think that differentiates the scale of what happened here with what happened inJapan. I do feel uncomfortable talking about grieving a home to those of you in Japan andperhaps here in NZ, who will have lost someone not just something.Untitled2These pen & ink drawings were done when we had moved from the caravan to a sparebedroom. We have been able to regularly visit our property over the past year, and watch itdecay. Ground water and sewerage water and liquifaction mud flooded the building on theday of the quake, and rain has been pouring in through the broken roof. At the point ofdoing these drawings I felt (and still do as the building is still up) really responsible for thehuge mess of it. But I was also fascinated by the textures of moulds and fungi and varyingstages of dried to wet mud inside our home. (Photos?)Drawing is a process which allows me to move on from places of distress or anger, and Ifeel really lucky to have this tool available to me.Untitled3This set of drawings was done about 4 months after the Feb quake when we had moved to a one bedroom cottage. These came out of bodily sensations of weight and being blinkered. They told me how shocked and numb I was continuing to feel, and again that process of drawing the sensation, and the elucidation that the drawings bring me brought me some relief. But my hope is they also offer something to others, a place of  acknowledgement or connection. They are untitled, pen& ink, A4 size.Untitled4These drawings I did in my car because I was still taking my children to their old school in Christchurch and so I would draw in my car during school hours. They are from a series of Edward Muybridge photos. Titled ʻTurning and running away – after Edward Muybridgeʼ pen & ink, A4 size I was able to keep drawing for several months after the quake, but eventually the lack of being able to nourish my process with imagery and contemplative time caught up with meand I petered out.

After several months of not making or drawing much at all I decided to do the really obvious and start drawing the rubble. As an access point back into my work it has beenreally useful. I was feeling really upset about all the people who died in the quake, I didnʼt know anyone personally who died but it connected with some griefs in my own life andwith losing my home and neighborhood. I couldnʼt get upset about losing my home. It was like I needed to take the experience from the largest point downwards, so I started with thePGG and CTV buildings. I include them here as part of that process of finding my way back to where I am. These drawings moved on to more abstract drawings of the rubble. I was fascinated by photos where everything was so crunched you couldnʼt recognise any original objects anymore. These drawings are done in charcoal and are 1.25 x 1.25m.

Untitled5Looking back on work from before earthquakes that had that same sense of relief and elucidation is this series of self portraits that I began in 2007. They initially came out of really strong experiences and feelings of being judged, and I just wanted to get all those accusations out onto the page.

These are a few examples from a larger group of drawings. They are all self portraits done from a mirror but they donʼt all look like me, except perhaps the nose and mouth. It was really satisfying to draw them. Each drawing decided who it was, that wasnʼt a process I felt any control over, they just turned up, although the intention to draw that judgement was clear from the beginning. I plan to continue these portraits as a long term project.

Untitled6Untitled7Continuing on with this theme of the redemptive process of artmaking is this work is treacle painted onto the wall as part of a solo show in a small room at COCA here inChristchurch in 2010. The motive for using treacle came out of a traumatic experience as achild, and it felt great to smear it on the walls in a public space. So there is sometransformation even in the act of making the work, and then hearing and watching peopleʼs response; how they would be attracted to the smell and enter the room because it smeltcomforting like home baking, and children playfully asking if they could throw themselves at the wall and stick to it, or wanting to lick it, or that it was like giant fly paper. These weretransmutations for me that I could bring those meanings and materials to be transformedinto something people enjoyed, even while it has a note of curiosity to it.treacle imageAs artists we hold these natural disasters weʼve found ourselves in the middle of, in a more responsive and meaningful way than the hype and singular interest in the traumatic moment, of the media. We all know the traumatic moments, although often ruminated upon, are a tiny slice in the larger process. And itʼs that longer, more complicated and much less exciting, larger process that we need to find our way through with a sense of hope and connection. And I am very grateful to the hard work of the curators and administrators here, and in Japan, for providing this opportunity, for me at least, toexperience some of that resilience and hopefulness.Thank you very much.


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