We recently caught up with local artist Geraldine Kos to talk art, animation, and art competitions.
How long have you lived in the Manning-Great Lakes?
I moved here from Sydney in 1979, so this has been my home for more than half my life.
What brought you here?
We wanted to raise our children in the country and to live a more natural lifestyle. We were looking at a small acreage in Bellingen. When that fell through, we just happened to notice an ad in the paper for our property at Bobin, a place with a funny name we’d never heard of! So we came out to take a look, loved it and made an on the spot decision to purchase our 100 acres.
What do you love about living here?
I think the Mid North Coast of NSW is probably the best place to live in Australia. Excellent temperate climate, great scenery, huge open spaces in which to roam and a country feel that the city totally lacks. We discovered a truly wonderful sense of community in our new home. One of the first things that struck me was the clear winter sky – so blue. The other (funny) thing I noticed was the way that people casually double parked in Wingham CBD without a care; or so it seemed. Totally unthinkable in Sydney! I’m sure that sort of thing no longer happens, of course.
You worked as a freelance animator. Tell us about that …
Ah yes, that was an interesting time. When we first moved here, the company I worked for in Sydney was quite short staffed, so they were reluctant to let me go. Normally the artists were paid by footage completed, not by the hour. Sometimes this could be a ‘goldmine’, and at other times (with a really complex scene) it could be very unfair. So, they did a deal with me to work freelance on selected scenes, often difficult ones, at an hourly rate. This suited me well; although, it was very sad to be stuck indoors while the sun shone outside the window. The scenes were flown to Taree via the now defunct East West Airlines, and I had to pick up and return the finished work to the travel agency in town. Many years later, my next door neighbour hosted a rival animation firm to film the live footage component of one of their Dot and the Kangaroo series. Coincidental? I was also surprised to find another animator who had worked for the same firm (not at the same time as me) was living not too far up the road. Small world, eh!
What do you think about the current state of animation and companies like Pixar?
Well, to be honest I’m not really up to date with current animation techniques. When I worked in this industry, it was very different. Each frame was hand drawn and coloured, then photographed one at a time. It needed 12 frames per second i.e. 720 drawings to produce one minute of animation. So, I think the digitising of animation is much more cost effective. The effects are marvellous and not really comparable to the original product. A whole new world really.
Sometimes it’s a bit too slick for my liking but of course, there’s still room for all types of animated filming. I’ve always had a fondness for those films done with rough drawings or torn pieces of paper which appear to jiggle about as you watch. One of my favourites is Angela Anaconda; such a clever script, and I still love Wallace and Gromit and the very charming Miniscule.
With your current work, where do you draw your inspiration from?
So far, I’ve focused on figurative work – mainly portraits. I tend to choose the people I love, family and friends, as subjects. Lately, I’m beginning to experiment with more abstract work – linear, layered work, probably owing a lot to my history in animation. I’m very much inspired by the sometimes controversial English artist Jenny Saville, who constructs lush nude portraits with broad brush strokes. Fred Williams, Robert Juniper and John Olsen are Australian artists whose landscape work I admire.
You are currently studying the Diploma in Fine Art at TAFE. What’re the benefits of doing the course?
Fine Arts at TAFE is comparable to university study, but maybe more hands-on. If you’re considering studying at uni in the future, this course is an ideal start. It articulates with uni, counting towards about half your degree. The course offers a broad grounding in fine art. I’ve studied photography, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, painting and the history of western art, among other topics. It’s been great fun, as well as a challenge to try new techniques, research other artists and to move out of my comfort zone. I would recommend this course to anyone serious about developing their artistic practice. It’s possible to study only selected subjects if you’re not interested in a qualification.
You are a finalist in The Flair Illustration Awards and have just entered the Manning Art Prize. As an artist, how important is it to enter competitions?
Students are encouraged to try their luck in competitions. There is quite a lot of work involved in framing, preparation, image capture for entry requirements, so it’s a useful exercise, even if you don’t expect to win. Of course, it’s very exciting if you are selected. For established artists and students alike, there is the opportunity to showcase your work and to vie for the prestige and financial reward of winning a place.
For shows like the Archibald with big prize money, an artist can support his/her practice for a year on the winnings. And this is important, as many artists struggle to live on their earnings. Having said that, many artists regard these competitions as a circus, feel that selection is a ‘lottery’ and believe that competition debases their work. Always controversy, eh!
Where can people find your work?
People can see some of my work on display at The Bean Bar in Pulteney Street, Taree. This exhibition and some additional works will move to Hallidays Point Library later in the year. The Flair Award for Illustration will be on exhibit from Wednesday August 31 until September 11 at the Manning Regional Art Gallery, where you can view my ‘malevolent magpie’!
What are your favourite words to live by?
“The ones who matter don’t mind. The ones who mind don’t matter.”