Tegan Georgette has been creating art “obsessively” since the moment she could pick up a pencil but this year, the Illawarra artist has come into her own.
The proof comes in the form of her upcoming solo exhibition, It’s My Pleasure, which will showcase 100 drawings of women, part of which was documented by videographer Alicia Granci.
Though the works are from the past five years, they are the byproduct of a 30-year journey.
From early on Tegan has gravitated towards life drawing. During her studies at Sydney’s National Arts School and the University of Wollongong, she would often spend several hours a day drawing the human form.
She said it’s like living in two different worlds.
“Nudity is not a controversial thing in the art world – it’s foundational. All day I was engaging with real bodies and real people and seeing so much diversity, while at the same time in the media and in the world, we don’t see much of reality at all when it comes to the human form,” Tegan said.
“This was huge for me. As a young teenage girl holding what I was seeing in the art studio and then going back out into the real world and seeing how other people perceived nudity – as somewhat taboo – but also, as a young woman looking at diverse bodies for seven hours a day, seeing how that impacted positively on my body image, had a profound influence on my creative outlook.”
Tegan started running the Life Drawing for Women workshops that introduced women to that experience and challenged the ideologies that nudity and sex came hand in hand.
“In life drawing there’s nothing sexual about the nude body, but the majority of people perceive it as a sex object. They can’t separate nudity from sex, whereas as an artist, they’re two very separate things and that separation is clear and ingrained,” she said.
“I want to show that to the world and give others the experience of what it’s like to just draw a body or be drawn, with it being nothing more than that. And I think there’s something really powerful and healing in that process.”
It’s My Pleasure will also be her first solo exhibition since she was diagnosed with ADHD earlier this year.
Tegan said in hindsight her neurodivergence has fed her creativity and made her prolific, which has helped her build her skills.
“I was an obsessive artist from before I could even talk. I was drawing and making sculptures out of paper ceaselessly all through my childhood. During holidays I’d lock myself in the cupboard and make artwork after artwork to cover the walls,” she said.
“I have realised that my obsessive need to make art was a coping mechanism for the overwhelm.”
Tegan said the title It’s My Pleasure has a double meaning.
“It acknowledges that people pleasing that women sometimes do – doing so much and saying ‘It’s my pleasure’ when so often, it’s actually not about their pleasure at all. But it’s also ‘It’s MY pleasure’ – and that change in inflection is about reclamation, owning your pleasure and standing up for your pleasure.
“I’ve been particularly interested over the past five years in coming to terms with my new body as a mother and my sexuality as a mother. So I’ve been drawing a bunch of other women who are in different stages of life – from youth to motherhood and women up to age 85. In drawing them, I’m hearing their stories and creating connection.
“This feels like a collaborative show with all the women who have modelled for me. It is a celebration of being a woman, loving our bodies and being happy with who we are, as we are.
“In a lot of ways I feel this is my first show. I’m launching myself as who I want to be, where I want to be. This is the art I want to make and I am so excited to share this with the beautiful community that has stemmed from this work.”
It’s My Pleasure will show from Thursday 2 November to Wednesday 8 November at Bad News Gallery, 4/324 Crown St, Wollongong.
Visitors are invited to follow the optional dress code of “weird, wonderful or whatever the f–k you like” to the launch on Thursday 2 November at 6 pm. For more information visit Tegan Georgette’s website.