Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

Contending with complexity

Georgie Hill’s Prismatic Tectonics

I looked at the natural world, and it seemed to share my feelings, to be trying in vain to escape its approaching doom. The waves of the sea sped in disorderly flight towards the horizon; the sea birds, the dolphins and flying fish, hurtled frenziedly through the air; the islands trembled and grew transparent, endeavouring to detach themselves, to rise as vapour and vanish in space.[1]

—Anna Kavan, Ice (1967)

They get inside you, Georgie Hill’s watercolours. They are uncommonly rich in their materiality, emphasising the sturdiness of paper and the vast range of effects possible working with a single medium and a small number of hues. Spend any amount of time considering them and they begin to infiltrate your experiences, colour your vision of the world about you. Complexly allusive, they flicker through diverse entities and phenomena. A flood of rainwater surging into a drain. The glassy tunnel of a rolling wave. The ragged luminosity of a damp sky. A stop light staining a steam-covered window. The streaky frills of a conch shell. The evocations differ from moment to moment and, no doubt, from person to person. They dart between categories, now biological, now elemental, now physical, now psychic, now earthly, now transcendent. The sense of energy is undeniable, but it is essentially elusive—as potent as sunlight and equally ungraspable.

The influences on Hill’s work are diverse. Literature has occupied a key position in her research of late. She is an avid reader of Anna Kavan and Doris Lessing, being impressed by the acuteness, experimental nature, and psychological depth of their writings. She is also attracted to their use of science fiction to posit alternate realities by turns plausible and fantastic, dystopian and more hopeful. Kavan’s 1967 novel Ice, which explores a world mired in conflict and on the brink of ecological collapse, has been a particular source of fascination. Storm-like gestures and spectrum-like gradations in Hill’s works resonate strongly with Kavan’s speculations and recall such real-world climatic catastrophes as the recent inundations in Germany and the heatwaves and wildfires presently ravaging Canada and the United States. …


Continue reading on the Visions website.

Prismatic Tectonics
Georgie Hill

5 August to 4 September 2021
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

[1] Anna Kavan, Ice (London: Peter Owen, 2013), 134–35.

By Francis McWhannell
Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker


Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is Curatorial Adviser for the dealer gallery Visions, and Curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.