AboutGeorgie Hopton lives for part of the year in Upstate New York, in America's Catskill Mountains. In 2005, after conquering the perennial bed, she moved on to creating a vegetable garden, which quickly became a passion and a preoccupation. In 2006 Hopton tentatively made the first photographs of herself and her garden's wild output, beginning a series she called âHarvest'. Continued each summer since, 2009 was her most abundant 'season' to date, with vegetable prints and sculpture being added to the series. Work from each year will be shown in this exhibition for the first time.
In Cut And Come Again the garden and the artist's relationship to it is the subject under scrutiny. Grown out of the need to work, whilst immersed in the new found joy of gardening, the products of sweat and toil are wheelbarrowed or trugged from garden to studio and form both the materials and inspiration for the artist's finally more burning purpose; the creative act. The result is a visual celebration of the symbiosis achieved between the fundamental urge to feed the body and the existential need to feed the soul.
Hopton's photographs in the âHarvest' series are humorous, strange and thought provoking. Parts of her semi-clad or naked body are juxtaposed alongside often peculiar looking garden produce. Aprons, last seen in Glorious 1950's Technicolor and here snatched up for modesty and whimsy's sake, all at once revel in, gently chide and eroticise an idea of domestic bliss no longer relevant. Hopton enjoys this ambivalence, loving to excess the sensual pleasure of a scone-scented kitchen and the opportunity her Upstate life gives her to create one, whilst detesting the relatively recent notion that women existed only to provide a warm, welcoming and nourishing home for their husbands and children to return to. The candour and attitude that each image holds is quietly liberating, mirroring Hopton's ârevelation' on realising that the garden need not be a retreat from the creative process, but an integral part of it.
These images serve as a self-portrait that examines the relationship between the artist and her crop, the external and internal self. The vegetable prints, meanwhile, explore the realms of the imagination and the conscious notion to recycle and adapt materials so prevalent amongst serious gardeners and today's conservationists. The instinct to make pictures is channelled through the childish activity of potato printing. An abundant vegetable garden provides numerous variations on the potato and the artist is able to satisfy her desire for fresh/new printing âtools' by the bushel. Gourds, pumpkins, beetroot, courgettes, aubergines any vegetable tough enough to withstand the weight of paint and pressure is sliced and daubed. In the tradition of Botanical Art, the artist has conjured flora, which, shaped in thick acrylic paint, sit heavily on contrasting, weightless newsprint and appear at once sculptural and flat. These marks are imbued with the story of the journey that has brought the artist and her work this far and appear like the physical manifestation of Hopton's dependence on her garden and its living and dying joys and disappointments.
Hopton's journey ends with the casting in bronze of the potatoes and chopping board, the materials of her print process. Resembling the traditional artist's palette, a motif Hopton has adopted often and has great fondness for, these sculptures complete a body of work, which has the satisfying sense of a cycle. As the title suggests, the garden provides the artist with a bouquet whose plants will re-flower after picking, yet it is not the garden that will work to put on the next display but the artist, through her wish to honour every part of her crop. Not quite Nose to Tail Eating, rather root to tip lauding.
âHarvest' is a bold salutation to life. On the surface there is an inviting simplicity about Hopton's enquiry, which once inspected more closely, ask questions about the transience of life, the necessity and futility of pleasure, and the ultimate certainty of death.
The photographs, prints and casts of Hopton's homegrown produce offer a closer reading of life and the living, a celebration and a memory of the artist's relationship to what was alive and has now gone.
Georgie Hopton graduated from St Martins School of Art in 1989. Solo exhibitions have included âThe Three Cornered Hat' at The New Art Centre, Wiltshire in 2008, âLaughed - I Could Have Cried' at Milton Keynes Gallery, which travelled to Firstsite, Colchester, in 2003. Hopton has exhibited in various group shows at the Arnolfini Bristol, Marc Selwyn Fine Art - Los Angeles, Kate Macgarry London, South London Gallery, Barbara Gladstone Gallery New York and Spruth Magers, Cologne. Hopton was nominated for the Maxmara Art Prize for Women in 2007.