Australian Fine Artist

Hannah Bertram

Visiting Artist At Chisholm Frankston

Workshop for Advanced Diploma Students over two days and Artist Talk

Quoting Hannah’s Biography: “Hannah Bertram completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in 2003 and a Master of Fine Art in 2005 at RMIT Melbourne. Her ephemeral works have been widely exhibited throughout Australia and Internationally. She is currently a lecturer at Deakin University Melbourne.”

Hannah’s practice investigates the ambiguity of value, the transformation of worthless materials and the passing of time. She has done a lot of work using dust as her main material. This can come from a variety of sources, so the texture, colour and other qualities vary allowing her to create designs that have tone, texture and depth. Her work is created to fade, move, deteriorate and either disappear by themselves or be removed. She is constantly on the search for how to create work and record it in ways that will not last.

As part of her two days with us, the Advanced Diploma of Creative Product Development students were given a full day followed by the next morning in a drawing workshop with Hannah. We talked about the creative “zone” that we search for when working, that place we want to get to where we are at one, totally connected with the work, nearly oblivious to the rest of the world. For many artists it is difficult to get the brain into the creative space, they don’t know where to start, or what tools may be available to help the creative process begin.

We explored methods of loosening up our thinking to allow the everyday to move aside for the creative to take over and methods of exploring new techniques in our drawing where we may find avenues to follow.

During the day we tried some different and sometimes, I felt, slightly weird ways of drawing objects, such as not looking at the paper, or not lifting the pen, which were fairly well trodden paths. Using both hands to draw each side of the same object in front of us, tying pens of two artists so that one followed and one led in drawing an object, drawing each other without looking at the paper, however, were a bit new.

The second morning had us working on projects that we had thought up. I had difficulty with this, which is unusual as I tend to be very project oriented. The goal of not having a real goal or completed drawing that could be identified had me at a loss. I explained that I am an observational painter and drawer, I like to see a result at the end as well as going through the process. I may have been missing the point of a workshop which in itself is process and not result targeted. However with a bit of thinking and some talk with Hannah we came up with something that we were both happy with. I explored some new methods and some subjects that I have been working on this year (humans), the restrictions were that everyone in the room is moving to some degree so I have to draw showing movement without the control of the models, I also split the drawing over two sheets one behind the other with slits in the front one. I moved the front sheet at twenty minutes and moved myself to keep drawing with pen always on paper and change of colour when people moved.

Hung on the wall it produced two in one artworks that you could see from different angles for different effects. I wasn’t too let down by the results or the process, so all good.

For her Artist Talk in the afternoon Hannah talked about her process of creating art with dust, where she displays it and the types of people who commission her to do the work. This has varied from private commissions to galleries and public art events.

For Hannah, the interaction with people during the creation and as it deteriorates is the important part of her practice. They are events meant to be at the time and experienced at the time. Hannah investigates through the medium of dust the intrinsic creativeness and source of dust be it star dust, the dust of galaxies and the beginnings of the universe, to the dust made through creating other things in our lives through to the finality of life, “dust to dust”. All of these are in her mind and the basis of her thinking and creativity.

What I took from the talk was continual assessment and research. Analysis and continual growth are what helps to keep our work fresh and us developing and learning as artists. What is the point if we get good at one thing and just stick to that one thing the rest of our lives? As artists we often do the strange thing to business, by going out and looking for another challenge rather than sticking to what has possibly become a profitable and successful model. (not that I would say just drop it, we all need to eat and pay the bills) I like the idea of continually looking to do better and conquer new horizons and of never settling for where you are, as there may be a better you just around the corner, or an exciting project that you could miss out on experiencing if you hadn’t looked. (by the way that won’t be dust related for me as I am extremely allergic!)

I want to thank Hannah for spending the two days with us, she was interesting and gave us things to think about plus a very nice artist to spend time with.

For any further information about Hannah go to her web site at:


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