About Geoff Cotton

About the artist

I’m a late starter.

But I’ve been experimenting with visual arts as a communication tool since childhood.

When I was aged three, I drew tractors all over the text in my father’s farm journals. At primary school, I won second prize in a drawing competition (the winner traced his drawing out of a book…). Then in high school, I rejected my art teacher’s encouragement to pursue my artistic talents, eventually ending up with degrees in science and education instead.

Conscious of time passing and artwork not made, I committed to the life of a full time artist in 2008 by returning to university. I majored in sculpture, but I still love drawing.

My focus

Since Modernism arose, artists have looked at new subjects, new materials and new media for inspiration. This has widened our ways of looking at the world enormously. It’s also driven us to seek what Robert Hughes called “The Shock of the New”, and like some addicts, we need stronger fixes of the new to feel excited.

But focusing only on the new, the young and the glossy leads us to overlook the beauty found in things as they mature, deplete and decay. It’s a subject that requires some courage for artists and audiences, but the rewards are great. The acceptance of these transformations and transitions is a mark of maturity, of wisdom. I’m hoping my work helps audiences to reach some peace with their own natures and destinies.

Current Themes

I work in sculpture, painting and photography.

Currently I’m exploring three themes:

  • Beyond ripeness: the beauty of the body and the manmade as it transforms beyond maturity, into decline and finally through death
  • Lust and other things: touching the body, touching the heart
  • Things we do to each other: we all carry the capacity to treat each other badly

Dreams

My dream is The bigBOLDart Project. This aims to develop “distributed” privately-sponsored sculpture parks with outdoor sculptures that are large and/or bold-challenging, adventurous, quirky, even brave-to help us make sense of ourselves as well as our relationships to self, others and the places we inhabit.

My thoughts on being an artist…

Being an artist is a crucial job in helping people understand today’s world, which is an increasingly complex physical and mental space. It seems that the more we know about our external and internal environments, the more we need help understanding what it means for us. Sometimes we need to approach these truths through mirrors and lies.

All artists are liars. It’s what we do best. And the best artists are the best liars. We make people believe that some smears of paint tell the most profound tales about the world around us. We turn bits of Styrofoam and plaster into the saddest examples of the human condition. We wash a room with coloured light to show things that aren’t there. But our power rests in these lies. If we can help viewers to see something in a different way by lying about it, that’s worthwhile. If we can use these lies to help our viewers see the truth of something, or better still, feel the truth, deep in their core, then we’re really useful.

Biography

  • 1953 Born in Tasmania, Australia
  • 1969-2007 Weekend painter and sculptor in stone and found materials
  • 2008-2011 Bachelor of Visual Arts (Sculpture), Southern Cross University

Awards

  • 2012 Third prize, Border Art Prize, Tweed River Gallery
  • 2009 Awarded the Kaske Award for 1st year sculpture student (2008)
  • 2010 Awarded the Kaske Award for 2nd year sculpture student (2009)