MEET: HANNAH DUNN, BY GILLIAN ADAMSON / by Gillian Adamson

This is my first ever interview as the interviewer. The last time I saw Hannah Dunn I was at an exhibition featuring a piece of her work (it was dreamy). The venue was unfamiliar to me. I needed to pee real bad. Hannah parted the crowd like the Red Sea and piously guided me to a bathroom with a rainbow floor. I feel like I am in very safe hands.
RYAN AND I MET HANNAH AT THE LASS TO TALK ABOUT ART AND STUFF.

You have an exhibition coming up, and it's your first solo exhibition. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Hannah: It's called Pas Romantique, which translates from French to ‘Not Romantic’, and is a tribute to the philosophy of the Romanticism Era of art culture and the Renaissance period. As the Romantic Era sought to rebel against the discipline and idealised form of the perfect human in the Neo-classic period, the series reflects and parallels these break-away ideas through a collection of acrylic paints.

Today, in a generation of social media and visual platforms such as Instagram, we are once again fixated on depicting an idealised reality, hiding and omitting elements of personal flaws and insecurities. My aim for this body of work is to create a series inspired by my own insecurities, the doubts and issues seen through several young people around me, and depicting certain personas that may be under-acknowledged, bringing to light the strength found in 'unattractive and unromantic' faults within the social media generation.

Through bringing these works onto a platform, the audience are invited to acknowledge the insecurities within themselves and find beauty in a more multifaceted view of humanity, thus creating opportunities to talk and be open with our issues and ideas.

I know you do painted illustrations and collaging. What sort of medium are you using for this?

It's going to be just illustration, but they're going to be big A2 acrylic paintings – which probably makes it the biggest project I've got going, which is exciting! 

I know that you did the cover for Altai [band]. Was that a painting?

Yeah. Apart from the work I did for Absolutely Hideous, it was one of the first works I did with paint for a commissioned work. I had worked with paint, but never took it that seriously. It was a sort of muck-around – like, I'd never really finished a painting properly. I ended up doing the whole thing with one tiny paintbrush.

Ryan: It kind of looks like a collage.

Hannah: Yeah, someone said that.

R: Me. I just said that.

H: Well now two people have said it!

I heard that you get up at 5am every morning, is this true? 

There was a very long period of time, a too-long period of time, where I did, yeah. That was to make sure I got enough work done, because I would balance everything with uni.

R: But what time would you go to bed?

H: Well, that depends. So, I would be in bed by maybe 9:30-10pm, but there were a few nights that I would be going to bed at midnight or 1am and then I'd get up at five. That wasn’t good. I stopped that after a little while because people were saying that I didn’t look well.

Has that influenced the work you've been making, having that stress of having to get up so early?

Yeah, actually. I've never thought of it like that. I find that I generally work harder with uni or art when I'm pressed for time. It does make me work faster and come up with ideas faster, but being a little bit sleep-deprived makes me think a bit differently. Maybe more abstractly. I'm definitely more productive when I've got more on my plate, which is ironic because the more I have to do, the more I end up getting done. For the YAIR (Youth Arts In Recovery) workshop that I ran, I wanted to put up a collage board to show, but I had nothing at the time to work with. So I pumped out all these ideas and different approaches. I ended up coming up with about six or seven in a couple of hours, but that was because I was sort of mentally prepared and set to go. Other times, because I'm so busy, I need a break and I'll play around with something and come up with an idea and it ends up being something else.

So in terms of time restraints or having to balance things, does that influence whether you're doing individual pieces of work, as opposed to a body of work? Does it interrupt that process?

It's definitely interrupted my solo exhibition because a lot of my other art projects are really short-term. Once it's done, it's finished and sent away, whereas this is just my work and no one else is relying on it to be done by a certain date. Things have been interrupted before due to my other commitments, but it has mainly just been my solo exhibition. I try to make time for everything.

Catch Hannah's exhibition 'Pas Romantique' at Watt Space Gallery - Northumberland House, Cnr Auckland and King Streets, Newcastle. Opening night is August 10th 6:30-8:30pm.