Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July exhibition interview (part 2) ::: Bonnie Hanlon

The July exhibitions by Bonnie Hanlon and Pia Johnson are two unique and personal approaches to contemplating our sense of self in the domestic setting.  Therefore I have decided to do this months exhibition interviews in two parts.  Part one is Pia's interview, part Two Bonnie's.  I thought it would be interesting to frame first questions very similarly, but as with the exhibition outcomes the endpoints are very different.

Bonnie Hanlon, 'Just my imagination (Running away with me)'. 2013. Embroidered Handkerchiefs.

JW - This months show's curitorally sit together very well.  In gallery 1 we have Pia Johnson's 'Finding Yourself at Home Alone' and in gallery 2 your show 'Hard on for Homewares'.  Both shows are exploring very personal spaces and ideas.  Can you tell us why some of the things you are putting out there in your show are making you a little nervous?

BH - There are two works in the show that I am a little nervous about, one work is pictured on the invitation- so I guess that's taken care of in a way, but I am still a little anxious about how that work will be received and the questions I may have to answer about it.

 I have written a blog post about where I was coming from with that work, a sort of 'didn't mean to be creepy, just wanted you to know I was thinking of you' type message, because the work is intended sweetly and I don't want it to be misconstrued.

The other work I'm getting anxious about showing is a figurative drawing titled "So I don't have to dream alone". This one is a two-fold concern for me because it is quite revealing- It's a nude self portrait on the one hand and on the other it is quite revealing emotionally. I think the latter is what is making me the most nervous, because it's not just my drawing that's being shown, it's a really personal and intimate scene that depicts my longing and my loneliness- and it has been a real challenge to allow myself to appear so vulnerable publicly.

 But aside from the social anxiety about being seen as a lonely-little-weirdo, I'm really looking forward to the show! 

JW - We are all looking forward to your show (and not just because we get to see you naked).
Do you usually come from such a personal place with your work?

BH - Ha! Don't get too excited, it's probably not what you think.

No, I haven't made work this personal before,I usually keep a pretty tight lid on revealing anything that makes me feel exposed or vulnerable.But it has been quite liberating- and a little daunting, not that every piece for the show reveals some great secret I've been holding, but unlike previous works that center around what I think, these works reveal more about how I think and how I feel.

Bonnie Hanlon, 'Seventeen Keys to find my way Home. 2013. Watercolour on paper. 76cm x 56 cm.

It's been a nice change to drop the bravado and allow my work to be more emotional, more nostalgic and sentimental. I've felt a real shift in my practice working towards this show, the work feels gentler somehow, calmer. Who knows, maybe that comes from opening up and making more personal work. 

JW - Being an interview about a show that opens really soon, I probably should ask; What is your practice and what is the medium of the work your showing?

BH - My practice is drawing based, although I am often seduced by a variety of media, and working in an art supply store really feeds that temptation. So I do a little painting and printmaking as well, but mostly I work in pencil and watercolour on paper.

Bonnie Hanlon, 'Unlocked #1'. 2013. Watercolour on wooden panel. 20 x 20cm

In the show I will have some watercolour works on wooden panels, I'm pretty excited to have found a way to do this and there will be a lot of Silverpoint drawings too.

I should probably explain what Silverpoint is for those who don't know. Silverpoint is drawing using a pencil like stylus with a silver nib that rubs off against the ground (traditionally a rabbit skin gesso) leaving behind a feint blueish grey mark that oxidises to a sepia tone over time.

Silverpoint's my new favourite thing, and now that I've found it I'll never let it go! It's a means of drawing that really suits the way I work and allows me to build up really fine, delicate marks, which is important to me because I like that really finicky, concentrated attention to detail. The ruler drawings for Span were a good example of the way I like to work, and I intend to revisit those works now that I've found silverpoint.

Bonnie Hanlon, 'Measurement across time II'. 2012. Watercolour and pencil on paper. 40 x 45cm.

There is also a work that is made from embroidered handkerchiefs (pictured on the invite). I agonised over including this work, because I'd always kept my craft-hobbies quite separate from my drawing practice, but in this case I felt it was important to bring this element to the show, because I find there's a real tenderness in needlecraft- and again, the process really suits that methodical, finicky way I like to work!

JW - It's interesting that you mention there is an obsessive undertone to your concepts as well as your techniques.   I'm very interested to see how this is going to come together in your show.

So tell us about the exhibition title.  Where the hell did 'Hard On for Homewares'  come from?

BH - Ha! I like to think of it as a knack for focusing my energies... But obsessive my be more apt.

I like word play, and short punchy terms, so Hard-on for Homewares seemed like an efficient term to use to describe my desire and excitement for Trinkets, furnishings and anything I can use to feather my nest. The term has pretty strong sexual overtones, but so does the nesting process, it all comes down to biological drives I suppose, so it seemed a fitting title for all of the themes in play in the show.
JW - What do you hope people experience when they check out your show?
BH - I just really hope that people who come to see the show can share an intimate space with the work, that they can sense a kind of longing, a comfort and a nostalgia that they can relate to.
Bonnie Hanlon, 'Tiny Keys unlock big dreams' (series) Silverpoint on Wooden Pannel. 12 x 10cm
Bonnie Hanlon's Exhibition, 'Hard-on for Homewares' at Stockroom runs from the 13th July until the 4th of August.