It’s a clear Sunday afternoon in July, and there’s a young lady, feet curled to a side, sitting on the floor of one of the Belconnen Arts Centre studios, painting the sides of a transport box. You’ve most likely seen her work somewhere before: the You Are Here festival Paste-Up Project, across the walls of Braddon’s Lonsdale Street Roasters or Fyshwick’s Dream Cuisine, or perhaps you’ve stumbled across her website: georgeisat.tumblr.com/ — fact is, George Rose is a young Canberra creative, and over the past weeks, the Belconnen Arts Centre have, as part of their May Lane exhibition, welcomed the extraordinary artist.
This Sunday, August 5th, George will join Reuben Ingall (music); Jamie Winbank (dance) and Michael Bailey (theatre) from 3pm at the Belconnen Arts Centre in an artists’ forum. ‘The Next Gen’ is a free fifteen minutes of projection and postulation from some of Canberra’s finest young artists.
We sat down at our webdesk (in our weboffice, which we happen to share with Google) with George to talk about cooking visual feasts, metaphorical cliffs, and taking risks.
SPP: You’re George Rose – tell us a little about your work?
George Rose: Yes I am George Rose. I really really like making things. It’s hard to define what I do in one lovely little box- I can’t just say, “I’m a painter” or “I’m an illustrator” or “I’m an installation artist” etc. etc. because I work across so many different mediums. Sometimes I sit down and make lists (another favoured activity of mine) of what to call myself – but most of the time I can’t come to any formal conclusion. I think some people refer to me as being “cross disciplinary”.
Basically I like making visual feasts.
Recently I‘ve been focusing on illustration, painting, hand lettering and sign writing as well as installations. But I have so many exciting ideas and projects coming up!
Gee – now we’re onto the me telling you specifics about my work bit….
Hmmm… it’s hard to answer such a broad question when there are so many facets to my what I do, so I guess I’ll just pick one element. A lot of the time I find that I actually use my work as a means to figuring out what is going on inside my head. I exploit the creation of art as a sort of cathartic counselling session in which I purge a lot of internal conflict. Even if my internal workings are not a direct subject matter, I think the pure act of creating is quite meditative for me. I guess you could say a lot of my personal work generally reflects something about my current headspace.
SPP: How did you start to establish your name as an artist, and what are you working on at the Belconnen Arts Centre?
GR: That’s a pretty funny question. A while ago, probably in the awkward period between high school and the start of university I came to the realisation that: In order for me to accomplish anything I would have to have some sort of vested interest in what I did. Seems like a pretty straightforward concept, I know, but I knew so many people heading to uni and planning their lives around what would get them a job, what would earn them the most money, what their parents wanted them to do or what they were good at. Not what they actually cared about. I guess the difference between these people I saw and myself was, and still is, I’m lazy. If my heart’s not in my work or what I do with my life, I lose interest mighty fast and just kind of… well, firstly freak out, then give up. In short, I can’t do ‘life’, as the majority of our society functions.
Now I want to put a disclaimer in here that — yes…that sounds like a mighty grand ol’ wank. I think I might have offended a fair few of my friends in conversation when asked: so what do you want to do when you grow up, and I reply ‘well… I figure I’m just going to do what I want to do and someday someone might start paying me for it’ … funny thing is it’s sort of worked.
I feel I must have the sort of personality where I can’t sit still or not be doing a million things at once, this kind of goes hand in hand with having a short attention span. It can be both rewarding, but also frustrating, in that I’m never really satisfied.
At the Centre I’m planning on drawing for some paste ups, and getting back into aerosol cans. It’s been such a long time since I’ve used aerosol, and I was never really a big fan of it – but I feel like now is the time to put aside old differences and really throw myself back into the medium. Using aerosol really opens up a lot of options for my work- so I have a good feeling about my time at Belconnen.
Last week Abyss and I were asked to paint a few walls at the Belconnen skate park, and even though the day was so bitterly cold, I had a blast. I do like painting walls.
SPP: So you’ve developed from the ground up: as you said, you decided to do what you loved until you were paid for it, and that’s worked for you. In terms of getting to where you are now, how long as it taken you to develop your practice and reputation so far?
GR: I guess being noticed feels like a pretty recent development. To be frank, it is hard to determine how long it has taken to get ‘here’ because I’ve been too scared to submerge myself in my practice…yet. However that’s all about to change as I’m thinking about my art more seriously and focusing on developing my practice over the next 6 months culminating in a solo show, my first one. It’s honestly petrifying, that is, the thought of leaving a stable income and life as I know it to try to make something of myself. I’m scared witless. Deep down I do feel like it’s time to metaphorically jump off my metaphorically high cliff and see if I can metaphorically fly. Like all great control freaks I have a vague plan- so, fingers crossed!
SPP: How have you found being a particularly young artist?
GR: Hahahaha- well I don’t really have anything else to compare it to so far. I think its pretty good though.
Sometimes I feel time and experience unlock different ways to view the world. So the only thing I can say here is that I know how I approach my art practice will reflect where I sit in my life. How I carry myself now is only a result of what I have learnt so far. Knowing this leads me to think in a year, two years or five years time my experience of art will be different again.
SPP: How have you noticed your work — in terms of both concepts and themes — has developed?
GR: My work is constantly changing and evolving. I’m starting to notice patterns and trends in my practise, which makes me happy. I feel like I’m still figuring it out myself in a lot of ways, so noticing the reoccurring structure of the way I process art is really helpful for me. I can see that my education has really influenced the way I develop work. I wasn’t trained at art school but I did go to uni and completed a BA of Graphic Design. I actually think that my education as a graphic designer has put me in a pretty ace position.
SPP: Your work is often found outside in open spaces. How do you feel about your work as a legacy when its street art; vulnerable to ageing and the elements?
GR: I love that it’s in the elements and vulnerable to aging, being stolen, or general destruction! There is something quite amazing to be able to put so much effort into creating a piece and, on completion, be able to release the control over what becomes of it. I’ve found this process actually teaches me to be less precious about my art, which is a good mentality to have. I think sometimes people can be quite guarded with what they create; it is hard to push yourself and your boundaries when you’re always scared of letting go. I feel sometimes works of art can transcend their physical presence into a much more impressive notoriety especially if it no longer exists: think Banksy
In short… It’s kind of liberating.