George Rose is often mistaken for a boy. She is actually a visual artist with a flair for not taking life too seriously. She spends most of her time up ladders painting murals and sometimes makes it into her studio just to try something a bit more normal. She feels most as home with a paintbrush in hand but also likes the feel of a pen, spray can, drill or Wacom tablet.
Since graduating George has thrown caution to the wind and abandoned her formal design training opting to pursue a multidisciplinary art practice. She has spent the last several years pretending to be a gypsy, rarely in one city for longer then a few months completing art commissions for clients in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. George had her first solo shown at Nishi Gallery and since has exhibited in group shows such as Curvy World Exhibition at aMBUSH Gallery Sydney, Uncommon Places, a part of Melbourne Fringe Festivals keynote event Melbourne, Bright Side Exhibition at The Chop Shop Canberra, Jannet Clayton Gallery Sydney and worked with various festivals including: You Are Here Canberra, ArtNotApart Canberra and This Is Not Art Newcastle to name a few. She has also completed several residencies creating murals with teens at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and is currently the artist in residence at Red Bubble Melbourne.
Damo: What’s your first memory of the Screaming Hand? Where does it take you back to?
George Rose: I spent my childhood in a couple of small country towns which were close to the beach so surf and skate culture was the norm. It was the early nineties so my uniform was regularly some sort of loose boys board-short and graphic tee combo. I think I always liked the idea of being a skater, but practically was not committed enough to the pursuit to even learn how to stand on a board till I was well on my way to adult life however I was always interested in art and thus graphics. I remember surf and skate graphics like the Screaming Hand as just being such a normal part of life – back then they had no greater meaning to me aside from these cool icons we wore but looking back you tend to see things a little clearer, these brands and graphics were more then just rad pictures they defined a sentiment in younger generations of rebellion against the more subdued suburban main stream culture. The Screaming Hand graphic was always so radical and aggressive. It really embodied the energy of the ‘fuck-you’ attitude of the skate culture and its crazy to think how long its presence has continued to influence each new generation. I guess mainstream society has continued to be ‘mainstream-vanilla’ so it makes sense that the the ‘fuck-you’ attitudes of alternative cultures continue to thrive and push back against what is the norm. To me the graphic of the screaming hand really takes me back to when I was young, living in little surfy towns, running around with scrapes on my knees and looking up to the teenage ratbag skaters kicking about.
Damo: In your opinion, what do you think the Screaming Hand has contributed towards the scene over it’s life?
George Rose: Like I said above I think the Screaming Hand embodied the attitude of a generation, not only within skate but youth culture alike. I think its why the image is still so strong today really. It has inspired so many artists and kicked off so many spin off ‘screaming things’ that it’s hard not to see its influence.
Damo: What do you think the future may hold for such an iconic image?
George Rose: Its hard to know what sort of life any image will take on. I think like most iconic images, the Screaming Hand really cemented its place in skate and youth counterculture – nothing can change the influence it has had on so many generations already. I love the way that it has been and will continue to be reimagined by artists. There will always be new artists emerging so really the Screaming Hand could continue to be re-imagined indefinitely, which means that not only will it never die, but it will be able to continually evolve as artists do. Thats a pretty great thought.
Damo: How does it feel to be selected to be involved in the project?
George Rose: I cant really explain how excited I am about being involved in this exhibition, to be shown alongside some crazy amazing artists who I’ve grown up admiring and continue to look up to. It’s such an impressive and formidable line-up that Eddie Zammit has pulled together so it is pretty intimidating and humbling to have been asked. I honestly cannot wait to see what everyone else done – it has been really fun to follow each artist’s progression with the project, mainly through online teaser images we’ve each been releasing in the lead up. I’ve been pretty quiet about my work because it’s a little left of field and I kind of don’t want to give away too much of the surprise. But I’m really looking forward to seeing the show in its entirety.
Damo: Why did you choose to represent the image in this way?
George Rose: I really enjoy crafting concepts and referencing layers of meaning within my work, my favorite art works are those where not only are the works bloody beautiful but they also make sense in their own context. With this project there were so many different elements and aspects of the hand’s history that I wanted to play with: from Jim Phillips surf or rock graphic background to the ideologies born from skate culture to the era the hand was born into, the year 1985 (such a good year) to the fact that Jimbo Phillips, Jim’s son, now walks in his dad’s footsteps illustrating graphics for Santa Cruz.
I wanted to try and come up with a simple and elegant solution that easily tied together all these different aspects of the hands past so I decided that creating an ‘animated’ neon light installation was really the only option. I mean – what says 1985 american skate and surf culture more then an ‘animated’ neon light? What’s more; the really excellent part of the whole thing is that whilst Jim Phillips is known for the screaming hand his son Jimbo Phillips is known for the Shaka hand (another iconic symbol of laid back surf and skater culture) and so I’ve managed to incorporate both hands into the one work with the shaka hand flickering on and off under the screaming hand. It is pretty impressive, but don’t look at it for too long or you might have Jim’s Screaming Hand burnt into your retina’s for good.