THE WOUNDED TULIP
In Georgie Hopton’s multifarious practice she considers the fecund and the dying with a lightness of heart and a touch of dark humour. For her second solo exhibition with Poppy Sebire, the artist continues to explore the convergences of vegetable and human, nature and culture, in a characteristic cornucopia of forms.
In her work, Hopton’s abundant passion for the ephemeral joys of gardening, eating and beauty is reined in, strapped down and for the most part, made to sit quietly whilst she considers its’ resurgence in another incantation. Contemplation and transformation are the pull and tug of Hopton’s working method and flowers, as the title suggests, provide the inspiration for the flesh of the show. The particular starting point in this case the title of a poem, overheard on the radio whilst photographing a broken tulip in the studio. Serendipitously seeming to hold tragedy, wit and compassion all at once in its’ grasp, this phrase continues to illuminate the artist’s ultimate ambitions for her work and sets the tone here.
In Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Tulips’, the eponymous flowers received as a hospital gift at once share the burden of her pain and torment her. Hopton is well aware of the anthropomorphism of flowers and embraces it. Tulips take on extra sexual connotations with their phallic stalks, tongue-like leaves and testicular, traditionally precious bulbs. However, when broken and wilted the flower becomes pathetic, emasculated. In the tradition of O’Keefe and Mapplethorpe, Hopton’s flowers become a vehicle for suggestive transformations both in their prime and after it, moving between visions of restrained sensuality to a more nebulous carnality.
Clearly inspired by British modernists like Hepworth, Lynn Chadwick and the like, Hopton merges her admiration for other artists with Ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arranging) and her interest in the Arts and Crafts and Vienna Secession movements. Celebrating the handmade and the anti-homogenous, the artist references this regularly forgotten legacy of modernism with her own textiles, needlepoint, mirrors, bespoke frames and plinths. She dreams of a world where every detail is hand forged and considered and indeed, offers us here her version of such a place. She drapes the gallery’s angles and hard edges and as a result, a strange, aestheticised domesticity keeps her house in order. Though magpie like in the multiplicity of her practice, the relationship between media is calculated and complex. Photos literally mutate into sculptures; sculptures seem to exist barely in the three dimensional and certain flowers, deeply sculptural in reality are made flattened masses through drawing and then collaged to return them back into the world of form. In the constant back-and-forth between the two- and three-dimensional, the artist enacts a material metamorphosis at once playful and painfully serious.
Georgie Hopton was born in 1967 in North Yorkshire. She divides her time living and working between London and Upstate New York. Solo exhibitions include The Naked Gardener, Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, Rome (2010); The Three Cornered Hat, New Art Centre, Salisbury (2008); Laughed - I Could Have Cried, Milton Keynes Gallery (travelling, 2003); and Sweet Exhibition!, Cabinet Gallery, London (1997). In addition to the forthcoming Sweethearts: Artist Couples, Pippy Houldsworth, London, group exhibitions include Galleria Suzy Shammah, Milan (2011-2012); Still Life, Kate MacGarry, London (2005); Independence, South London Gallery (2003); 20th Anniversary Show, Sprüth Magers, Cologne (2003); and 00, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York (2000). In 2005 she produced a public commission for the Home Office, London, and her work is in the Arts Council Collection. In 2011 Hopton was shortlisted for the Sovereign European Art Prize. She studied at St. Martins School of Art.