Hannah is an artist, emotional and with powerful brows. She once dreamt of becoming a waitress but her calling for drawing and painting was more profound. Happily, instead of serving dinners and wines she serves girls in bathing-suits. A unique crew of funny looking girls who are timeless, athletic champions. With interesting shapes and looks they don’t pose to please. They are winners already.
Where are you from and where are you based today?
I’m from Milton Keynes originally, and moved to London when I was eighteen to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths. I’ll have lived here five years this September which is a bit spooky.
Who gave you those powerful brows?
My mum! Or my Uncle Anthony.. one of those two.
Was it your dream to become an artist or did the profession chose you?
I’ve wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. There was one summer when I was younger where I wanted to be a waitress, but aside from that it’s always been the goal. Making art - drawing and painting especially - has always felt second nature, like it’s the right thing to do. It’s a difficult path to try and navigate but I wouldn’t change it.
You draw funny looking girls, in bathing-suit/ gymnastic suits or naked. You also make sculptures and a ready-made: Pool. What do you think is the source to your motives? What is the formative inspiration to your artistic expression?
I initially painted funny looking girls accidentally as a result of process. In my first year at Goldsmiths I was trying to figure out oil paint and wanted my work to be loose and gestural; looking at artists like Chantal Joffe and Tala Madani for inspiration. I knew I wasn’t interested in working from life, and so would work from imagination or pick poses from photographs, and give myself a maximum of ten minutes per painting. The result was these messy and vaguely lopsided girls, but they had an energy to them that I really loved – I still have all those early paintings. I don’t limit myself with time anymore but the energy stayed, and I still have fun when I paint. The bathing suits are partly because it makes them harder to pin down to a specific time or place, and also because I like to think they could all be Olympic swimmers, weightlifters, shot-putters, etc. A few of them are probably bodybuilders too.
Has your style changed over the years?
The girls have definitely grown in confidence over time. They started out very messy and awkward, which they still are to an extent, but they’re able to hold their own a lot more now. I think my painting style has changed too, it’s more controlled. At the moment I’m working a lot to try and balance this control alongside their loose style – I want them to stay fresh but also mature, developing new depths and textures.
Do you work in a studio? Or where do you normally get creative?
I currently work from home. It’s fine for now, a large part of my practice is drawing based as that’s how I develop ideas, so they can easily be done at a desk in my room. I always carry a sketchbook with me so a lot of the time I’ll also get drawings done when I’m out and about, on lunch at my job or when I’m in bed. Painting is more difficult – I’m a very messy painter, and it’s nice to be in a space where that’s not a problem. I’m actually looking into a studio with a friend of mine at the moment.
What do you think people are doing wrong in the world today?
I don’t like to think of people doing stuff wrong on a large scale; I’m always aware that everyone will experience the world differently and react to it in their own way. In smaller terms, I think it would be brilliant if people could be more open with each other. It’s something I struggle with, but I’ve been trying more and more to be vulnerable with the people around me recently. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but it’s pretty rewarding when it goes right. I basically just would like everyone to not be afraid to ask for help when they need it.
I listen to a lot of bleak music. I’m a very emotional person, and listening to Leonard Cohen on a constant loop seems like a kind of self-sabotage.
Nothing set in stone currently, but there are a couple of potential shows in the works which is exciting. At the moment I’m mainly focusing on developing my practice as much as I can, steadily finding source material to draw inspiration from and doing new drawings. My most recent paintings feel like a step in a new direction - I’m super excited to see where the girls go! Fingers crossed for the Olympics.
Images courtesy of HANNAH WILSON
interview REBECCA LOVGRENS
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