My work has been a lot about stories and storytelling. I use the repetitive nature of printmaking as a way of repeating, layering and evolving images to evoke a narrative, reminiscent of the repetitive practice of telling traditional tales, which themselves evolve as they travel across country and time. These stories bring with them histories revealed in structure, language and symbolism. Printmaking techniques I use to explore and express my connection to stories, include drypoint, etching and screenprint. Rather than printing editions, I use the same image to create a series where each print reveals a continual process of change and evolution.
In 1997 I stayed and worked in a remote community on Cape York for a year. Several of the older women in the community took me bush regularly. We collected grasses for weaving, wood for spears, roots for dying, went fishing, camped, cooked and drank tea on their beautiful homelands. That time exposed me to Indigenous families and culture and relationship to their country. And it gave me pause for thought about the profound disconnect colonisers and migrants experience here due to our language and culture evolving from integration with a very different environment. I thought that by telling and retelling our own stories we haven’t realised the knowledge from stories which already exist here.
My grandmother migrated as a young woman to Australia from Shetland Islands. The spiritual systems which she grew up knowing can be glimpsed in their traditional stories. I have told some of these stories in adult workshops and schools; created drawings and prints using the narratives and imagery; and written essays exploring their historical and social relevance. When I finally travelled to Shetland Islands to be in my grandmother’s place, I saw the seals, otters, orcas, bird life and cold North Seas which characterise their stories. These timeless tales continue to carry weight in daily lives and identities of Indigenous Shetlanders.
My most recent exhibition, 2017, was a collaborative installation about land and place – I installed 100 small water colour paintings depicting my local surroundings. The paintings diarised places I work and visit in Far North Queensland, Australia. This departure from printmaking allows me to be out on the field, to work immediately and gather information to tell a story about my present life.
Hannah has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from University of Wollongong, majoring in printmaking and writing. She works in remote and local Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland and Cape York Peninsula, facilitating printmaking and weaving workshops in Community Art Centres. Hannah collaborates with, and mentors, individual artists. She also runs storytelling workshops in local schools and community programs. Since 2000 Hannah has regularly had solo exhibitions of her prints and paintings; and participates in group exhibitions. Her work is in collections in Australia, USA and Italy.
The artist lives and works in Cairns, a regional city located in far northern tropical Australia. Along with reading and writing essays and short stories, Hannah loves being in remote places and immersed in our natural environment.
Please contact Hannah regarding sale of work.