Spotlight

Spotlight Artist Georgina Odell

Championed by Nick Hornby
The Wick - Spotlight Artist Georgina Odell
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The Wick - Spotlight Artist Georgina Odell
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Interview
Georgina Odell
12 June 2024
Interview
Georgina Odell
12 June 2024
This week, Georgina Odell unveils her final degree show at Goldsmith’s, the culmination of a “very private” body of work the artist has been developing for nigh on two years. In making the work, Odell, who started out working with textiles as her preferred medium, has been drawn towards sculpture, making steel renditions of paper fortune tellers, to create an electric contrast with softness and movement of her intricate and large-scale textile pieces – tapestries made of labels usually used for school items, but instead of names, each is adorned with ardent diaristic expressions of love, pain and loss.
Odell’s champion for The Wick is sculptor Nick Hornby, who met Odell in the spring. Hornby said: “Odell doesn’t label herself as a sculptor, yet her work is deeply rooted in the tactile and transformative process of making. If transformation is a core tenet of sculpture, then Odell is a master of the sleight of hand that turns metal into paper and thread into structure. From a distance, her modernist formats, like grids, reveal themselves as love letters written on children’s name tapes. For her degree show, she presents a Calder-esque mobile composed of geometric steel abstract forms—origami fortune tellers meticulously folded from steel. I can’t help but think of Richard Serra’s “Verb List” (to bend, to fold, etc.) where the action applies not to raw material but to the promise and deceit of nostalgia.”

Odell points to influences including “the confessional period of poetry, such as Audre Lorde, Anne Sexton and Adrienne Rich but I also find a lot of inspiration in music and songwriting such as Adrienne Lenker, who beautifully observes the subtle intricacies of relationships.” The resulting pieces – though apparently abstract in form – dovetail a long and ongoing engagement with writing and text, “narratives appear in fragments of text woven into fabric and scratched into the surface of metal. I am interested in the ways that language can reveal and liberate, but also how it can betray you. Words can be slippery and untrustworthy, they can honour a narrative or discredit it”, Odell explains.

Another recurrent source of inspiration is the artist’s own life – influences from childhood, memories, and the complexities and intimacy of familial relationships find their way into her works. “I play with nostalgia to explore the emotional significance of materials and objects, using school name labels as a narrative tool and giving paper fortune tellers a sculptural format by bending them out of steel.” These ubiquitous references root Odell’s personal experiences in a shared culture familiar to many, with half-concealed hints and Odell’s own past embedded within – you have to get up close to read the coded and cryptic excerpts. It feels courageous and raw. Does it make Odell feel vulnerable, putting her thoughts and feelings out in public? “Making work inspired by my own life can feel exposing, but as a result my art practice has become cathartic which has felt like a big achievement for me.”

About the champion

The Wick - Spotlight Artist Georgina Odell

Nick Hornby (b.1980) is a British artist based in London. His work is an enquiry into queer identity, semiotics and the art historical canon. He is known for his public sculptures which critically engage with the core tropes of public art – equestrian, memorial and abstraction. He studied at The Slade School of Art and Chelsea College of Art. Hornby has exhibited at Tate Britain, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge and The Museum of Arts and Design, New York. His work has been reviewed in Frieze, Artforum, The Art Newspaper, and The New York Times. In 2022, a substantial monograph was published by Anomie Press.

“She doesn’t label herself as a sculptor, yet her work is deeply rooted in the tactile and transformative process of making.”

Nick Hornby

Place of Birth

New Zealand.

Education

BA Fine Art and History of Art Goldsmiths, University of London 2021-2024 Foundation Diploma in Sculpture, Central Saint Martins, University Arts London 2019-2021

Current exhibitions

Goldsmiths Degree Show 2024, Royal Academy Summer exhibition 2024, ‘And Would You Believe It’, Critical Edge Collective, Copeland Gallery

Advice

The biggest advice I can give to anyone currently studying is the importance of just showing up! You can’t work in a vacuum and those informal conversations you have with other students over a coffee break or washing your brushes in the sink are just as informative as formal crits and tutorials. You have an array of young artists to talk to at your fingertips, make the most of it!


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