The new MBA: unlocking the potential of a creative mind with a masters in art and design.
Using dust and ash as principle materials, Hannah plays on the ambiguity of value and the concept of time to deliver temporary installations around the world.
Dust is an unusual medium to work with. How did you arrive at this?
I was a painter for about 10 years, and I was coming to the point where I just didn’t feel like painting was a medium that was expressing what I wanted to express any more. I decided that I would try everything that I possibly could as a way to figure out what I was trying to say.
During my Master of Fine Art at RMIT University, I started to investigate discarded and overlooked materials – things like scrap paper, junk mail, dirty water, orange peel, Minties wrappers – and I would embellish and bead them and transform them into something precious. Now my whole practice is concentrated on making decorative temporary work out of dust.
So how did you eventually make the commitment to making art your career?
I first did some research into other artists who have got careers that I would like to have, what they did, where they’ve exhibited, what prizes they’ve won, and then focused my attention on finding a path for myself.
I decided that I would give myself ten years to become a full time practicing artist, and if I’ve got nothing at the end of ten years – no shows, no work – then I’ll be done with it. But I’m going to give it everything I’ve got for that period.
What helped you succeed in those ten years?
I felt that I hadn’t really developed enough of a network yet, and I had only just started finding a way to conceptualise what I was trying to do, so I did a Master of Fine Arts at RMIT. The teachers have an incredible ability to reflect back and articulate what is happening in your work. Their depth of knowledge is so useful because they’re able to question you in a really productive way, not in a way that undermines what you’re doing, but that challenges you to know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
My philosophy is, ‘I do it because I must’. That’s it. There’s no ‘it’s too difficult’, or ‘it’s not possible’. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t feel like you have to.
What advice do you have for people looking to become artists?
Don’t limit yourself to Australia! It is a supportive place for emerging artists and there are a lot of opportunities, which are really fantastic, but I think it’s really valuable to think internationally. This isn’t because of any cultural cringe, it’s simply a recognition that we’re working within an international dialogue, and artists need to participate more broadly than their own city.