The gallery is delighted to welcome Georgina McMaster, who is one of Scotland's brightest young emerging artists.
Georgina was born in 1980 and trained at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) from 1998 to 2002. However it was her Grandmother Souchonne (Georgina's middle name) who encouraged her in her art and drawing from a young age. Souchonne was herself a figurative painter. She was also given a great deal of encouragement by her parents and the other main driver in her art development was her art teacher at St Columba's, Kilmacolm, Maria Robertson. It was she who really taught Georgina how to paint and mix colours and she gave her the time in one-to-one tuition and encouraged Georgina to use her talents to go on to art school.
You get an insight into Georgina's character when you consider her approach to studying at art school. Georgina has a powerful inner strength and real sense of her own direction; she has a very considered and individual approach. Georgina avoided fine art and drawing, where she had the benefit of feedback from her older sister Sally's previous study. Sally described the 'so-called' tuition as being very much left to your own devices 'it was just like, here's the space and a framework and now you will just be left to get on with it'. Georgina, who was keen to use this time to learn responded by opting for a more diverse course of art study within her degree, with fashion and design, illustration, graphic design, photography and screen printing components in addition to the more traditional painting and drawing classes. So Georgina got to study the broader technical areas that she wanted to and there is no doubt that had she followed a more traditional learning path the 'originality' of the style that she developed would probably have been choked and squeezed out of her.
Georgina has a refreshing inner drive and confidence. When she talks about animals, she immediately smiles and becomes animated and has a certain 'sparkle' in her eye, and when she describes them as 'beautiful' and 'I love them', you are left in no doubt that she really means it. Where did the interest in animals start ? 'Well, I was brought up with four cats, a dog and three horses and they were my friends and a big part of my life'. This proximity to her pets is probably is at the core of her interest in painting animals or wildlife; she sees them as more than objects that 'we fail to notice' or take for granted. At first her interest was linear, she was drawn to their sense of movement, but this has moved to an interest in texture, the face and character and a representation of the 'soul' of the animal. Using techniques inspired by fellow Scottish artist Jenny Saville, she loves to combine detail in 'the eyes' with loose brushwork and layering in the representation of the fur or feathers, an effect that she can only achieve with the use of acrylics as a medium.
Georgina describes 'I love to capture the texture of the animal and I want it to look like you can touch it and engage with it. I want it to come alive and be a part of your daily living space. People should be aware of animals and be aware of the importance of nature'. She started with everyday animals, like cows, hens, birds and horses and she has progressively expanded her interest to the 'more exclusive' animals, like eagles and deer and threatened species like tigers, the animals that people don't always get to see or get up close to.
Georgina McMaster is an important Scottish contemporary artist, who uniquely examines an important aspect of our natural environment: the animals around us. In using a largely blank canvas as her background, she makes the animal her prominent significant subject and she uses careful compositional techniques to give and bring out the animal's personality and character and to make them real to us. She then uses the eye as a device to lock to engage with us in a friendly and proximate way. The whole effect is very cleverly constructed and she achieves and we get, a relaxed sense of closeness and relationship with our new animal friend.