“Capturing the brilliance of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef”
Friday April 10
Microcosm is an apt title for Georgina Hooper’s 2015 April exhibition of ink and watercolour paintings on rice paper, inspired by one of nature’s most successful ‘communities’ –The Great Barrier Reef. Microcosm is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “A community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger”. It is a word that is derived from the Greek mikros kosmos meaning ‘little world’.
For Georgina, The Great Barrier Reef and its ‘mikros’ or ‘little worlds’ is a wonderful example of how nature exemplifies the interconnectivity of life on our planet. An intricate web of interdependence, the Great Barrier Reef is a living example of how such complex interdependence and natural ‘community’ leads to thriving and magnificent growth, full of diversity and beauty.
Georgina Hooper, who believes that nature is our greatest teacher, has captured the diversity and beauty of Australia’s natural wonder in her latest series to express a deeper message about the interconnectedness of people, the environment and our basic need for community in order to flourish.
“I see the Great Barrier Reef as a metaphor for how we should live as humans and from an even more personal level, as artists”. Artistic communities who travel, live and connect with one another, fertilizing, supporting and encouraging the growth and beauty of each individual leads to a greater whole and artistic abundance that can be enjoyed and celebrated beyond our own individual practice. “Artists need each other”.
Georgina is very much a part of an extended artistic, global community, travelling regularly to China and Japan to create and learn. Her paintings in ‘Microcosm’ are very much reflective of her training in traditional Chinese landscape painting and a selection of the works she created while studying in Tianjin University will be exhibited alongside her more recent contemporary departures in the upcoming show. The artist explains
“I was amazed to find how the underwater landscapes of the Great Barrier Reef were so closely related to the mountainous regions of China that I had learnt to paint. The mark making and techniques developed by the ancient Chinese masters are so adaptable and I hadn’t realized this until I started painting this new subject matter. Capturing the peaceful atmosphere of the vast, yet intricate landscape of the reef was so much easier when I realized I could apply my traditional practice”.
Although it is not a typical Chinese subject matter, Georgina explains that she is still trying to capture that sense of the sublime in nature and the wonder and mystery of the natural world that can also be seen in work of traditional Chinese masters.
“I believe it is the common perspective and lens that we see life with or through that can connect us, across culture, place and time and through this, I am reminded that we are part of one, broad, human community”.
With her experience as a professional artist and teacher Georgina speaks of the importance of giving back to the artistic community. “I believe in the importance in working with young artists to help them lay a foundation for themselves and for more experienced practitioners to nurture them in their growth.” Hooper has chosen work by Lucy Brown and Satya Lawless to feature in ‘Microcosm’. These two emerging artists are students of Georgina, one of whom she now mentors each week as part of an extra-curricular art program she has developed to support emerging and aspiring young artists. A collection of reef-inspired, silver jewelry by Australian designer, Pierina Curties will also feature at the exhibition.
“I have been teaching for so long now, that I have begun to see my students grow into my peers and I love this. Albert Einstein said that creativity is catching, and it is true. I can constantly see the natural consequences of my infectious enthusiasm and passion for what I do. I strongly believe that art and life is not a competition, it is a community, and it is important to support one another.”
The Great Barrier Reef is fitting subject when we look to nature to exemplify community. A complex and teaming city, with highways of fish and life, moving, and thriving, it is magnificent and abundant and precious. A constant flow of exchange and connection, every member of this microcosm has a place and a role in the growth, health and continuity of the reef’s existence.
Georgina believes that you receive back the energy you put into something, through one way or another. “We all contribute to a greater whole and when our contributions are positive, healthy and wonderful, we help our community and its environment grow and thrive. To me the Great Barrier Reef is a perfect example of this and a wonderful reminder to us all of how we each have a larger impact by our small, every day actions”.
“Underwater landscapes inspire me further because of my experiences with scuba diving. Like my painting practice, diving is like meditation. Under the surface of the water we are encapsulated and more focused. Our senses are brought inward and we become more aware of our breath, heartbeat and the subtly of our every movement. The urge to panic or rush must be mastered and when we relax and find a rhythm of calm, slow movement we can find a harmony with this new environment and its conditions and can find a great sense of peace. It is only then that the surrounding beauty and life of the exquisite reef becomes truly visible to us, as both observer and participant. Letting go of much of our control, and swimming with the current, we can discover and drink in the beauty of the natural world that we are so inherently a part of”.
This mindful-slowness, conscious deep use of breath and acute awareness of our surroundings experienced when diving is something that we could benefit from in our every day walking life. Yoga and painting also helps the artist connect with this sense of mindfulness and wonder in her daily life too.
Georgina Hooper also feels a great sense of responsibility to the reef. “As an Australian, I am so blessed to have the Great Barrier Reef on my doorstep. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to dive in my own country and see this natural wonder in person. However, with this privilege, I feel it is also my responsibility as an Australian citizen, to contribute to the care and protection and raise the global awareness of this natural wonder and the very real danger it is currently in”.
The artist will be donating a percentage of all profits from ‘Microcosm’ to Fight For the Reef,
Georgina’s collection of vibrant, yet peaceful reef paintings serve as reminder of the importance and brilliance of communities. “As human beings we are, in ourselves, a microcosm – not a species removed from the natural world but creatures that are part of it and dependent on it”.
Hooper’s ‘Microcosm’ runs from April 7-April 20th at the Percolator Gallery in Paddington, Brisbane with the official opening night celebration on Friday 10th April, 6:00pm-9:00pm.
It is a testament to the artists painterly skill and her love of nature. A wonderful celebration of the beauty and inherent wisdom of the natural world and of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Hooper’s ‘Microcosm’ is not to be missed.
“The more connected to nature we are, the healthier and happier we will be” – Georgina Hooper