Geoff Wonnacott lives in Kinburn, Ontario, a small village west of Ottawa, Canada.
Geoff is a self-employed artist-contractor, fabricating and installing exhibit components for museums and galleries. As an artist, Geoff's work includes; performance, installations, documents, sculpture, photography, and collage.
I made my first collages over 40 years ago. I knew nothing about it. I stuck bits of cut paper onto a card, probably sourced from 2 or 3 used magazines or comics. I used mucilage dispensed with a clumsy and messy rubber tip or smelly glue daubed on with a brush attached to the bottle cap. I did my best, after all, as an alternative to a written essay, these were what I submitted for a course requirement to one of my university psych courses. Remarkably I passed!
I have continued to create collage works since then. Ripped through countless magazines, large-format picture books, movie posters etc. I have hundreds of files with thousands of pre-cut scrippets sorted into colours, textures, patterns, and odd things. I have many pairs of scissors, knives, and tweezers. I use an aerosol spray adhesive. I am strictly cut and paste. Analog?
‘Analog’ is a term often used by collage artists to describe works that are hand made using real materials to create a physical object. This term has been adopted by some collagists to distinguish their work from other ‘digital’ artists. With the tools available and almost unlimited image resources, digital work has its own techniques and aesthetics. Bravo, some truly great stuff out there. There is nothing digital about my works however and this has nothing to do with any sort of purist approach to collage. It is a preference. I enjoy the cutting, the sorting, laying out pieces, shuffling bits, accessing files, working on several images at once, enjoying the texture of things, and the sensory qualities.
Collage is a magic creature. One can become captured by the process so easily. No training required. Just get some simple tools and materials together, jiggle some bits about, stick’em down and presto, you’re an artist! Maybe not quite that simple. There are many precedents for collage in art history, most notably in the avant-garde of the early 20th century. Collage is well established as a genre and is today a popular and recognizable outlet for artistic expression. It can take many forms, from sentimental poetics, arcane narratives, chaotic rants to razor edge design or to whatever one can imagine or even never have imagined. It can seem the possibilities are endless.
I enjoy the process. Beginning with the recognition of potential from my sources. Cutting things up. Creating a file bank filled with anything I have imagined as useful. Laying out possibilities. Getting surprised, getting sidetracked, finding direction. I feel as though I can make whatever I want. Sometimes I work from a sketch, merely a bedside scribble on a notepad in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s an obsessive technical exercise or maybe I embark on a totally spontaneous session where I just start. Something. Whether it’s abstract, technical, narrative, portrait, landscape, even stop-frame animation, I try to create an image that exhibits an obvious presence within the framework. I try to make things clear, recognizable, not much deciphering. I want the works to resonate with the viewer on various levels. Be it, theme, subject, design, technical aspects.
I have a studio almost exclusively dedicated to collage. I have to walk there but it’s close. It’s upstairs, it’s small. I keep special things there. Mementos, curios, past works. All my collage paraphernalia is there. I can relax, give in to collage, welcome the state of mind.
I use black card as a base for my constructions.
It’s like a hole in my room.
I need to seal it up.
I use paper and glue.