In conversation: Katelyn Geard
Image: large-scale graphite works by Tasmanian artist Katelyn Geard (2022).
Driven by emotion, expression and body language, the art of Katelyn Geard will leave you captivated in the detail.
Largely working with graphite as a medium, Geard shares an introspective exploration of identity through her work utilising the human body and its form as a source of expression.
Recognised by QVMAG as one of Tasmania’s most significant emerging artists of 2023, Geard’s works titled (Dis)apperance, (Be)longing, (Dis)comfort and I Appear Missing (2022) hang within the exhibition RISE at the Art Gallery at Royal Park, offering an intimate and emotive representation of her practice.
“Graphite is so versatile … you can make so many different marks and textures. I love the texture; the tonal range, the variety I can achieve whether I'm using pencils, powder, brushes, sponges and blending stumps. I love the way it captures light, and the way light interacts with it,” Geard said.
“I am interested in the body and its forms of communication and expression, and my works are introspective explorations of embodied identity and experience. I combine bodily expression with material and mark making expression.
“I find every day in the studio is different. Some days are hard, other days are wonderful. It's great to have a space that's dedicated to your practice, somewhere you don't have to clear away every day to use it for something else.
“It’s somewhere you can surround yourself with inspiration, studies, past and finished works, tests and works in progress. Getting into a state of flow and hyper focus is much easier in the studio.”
Image: Tasmanian artist Katelyn Geard working with graphite. Photo: courtesy of the artist.
When asked about her creative influences, Geard said the work of Rodin, Claudel, Schiele and Caravaggio have been on her walls and in her journals for a long time.
“Early in my practice, I tried to find as many artists as possible that also work with photorealism and graphite. I learned a lot from watching them through the internet,” she said.
“I learned a lot of skills and techniques and discovered materials I [now] use to manipulate graphite through other artists working all over the world; that's the beauty of the internet.
“Some of [my learnings] came about entirely as accidents, or at least were unplanned, and I think those are the best kind of breakthroughs.
“Every time I discovered a new tool or technique [it] would help me get a different effect with my medium. These discoveries often came from watching other hyperrealism artists talk about their work.
“Learning about photography as a part of my practice and learning about negative space and incorporating this into my work was another key learning.”
While discussing the challenges of being an early career artist in Tasmania, Geard said accessibility and cost can be barriers to exploring creative practice.
“It’s tough starting out when you might not be selling much work or have the suitable space to make work.” Geard said.
“Studio rent, gallery hire fees and the cost of materials all add up very quickly and it can be really hard to get your work onto gallery walls so people can see it if you can't afford all these things.
“There's also a general lack of suitable and affordable studio spaces for artists. Most spaces are full, or too expensive for an emerging artist to afford, and without a studio space, it can be hard to make work in the first place. If you're not selling work, you can't afford all these things.”
Image: the studio of Tasmanian artist Katelyn Geard.
The new biennial exhibition RISE at QVMAG has been designed as a platform to showcase works from the State’s top emerging creatives.
“I am so grateful to be a part of RISE. It's such a fantastic and important program for emerging Tasmanian artists. I'm so honoured to be a part of it and I hope it continues to grow and support artists for a long time,” she said.
“I'm honoured to have been given the opportunity to show in an institution like QVMAG as part of an incredible group of artists. This will be an early career highlight that I can look back on again and again as my career develops.”
As advice to fellow emerging artists, Geard said it’s important to surround yourself with other creatives.
“I’m just starting out myself, so I'm not sure that I have much sage advice as of yet, but my main advice is to go and see as much art as possible whenever possible.
“Find yourself a community of fellow artists, even if it's just two or three other people; but the more the merrier.
“Art is not the easiest pathway, it's important to surround yourself with fellow artists.”
(Dis)apperance, (Be)longing, (Dis)comfort and I Appear Missing (2022) by Tasmanian artist Katelyn Geard are on display within RISE at the Art Gallery at Royal Park until 15 October 2023.