Artist Georgina Brett Chinnery creates sculptural, poetic pieces that transfix with their uncanny likeness to the birds and other creatures that she is clearly fascinated by. She uses beautiful leather hides that she transforms by a skillful metamorphosis of moulding, embossing, tooling, gilding and painting. The result is an artform that has incredible energy and realism; her vision is beautiful, sometimes unsettling, occasionally whimsical.
Pictured: Georgina Brett Chinnery. Photo by Alun Callender
LEATHER IS THE MEDIUM OF CHOICE FOR GEORGINA’S SCULPTURAL NATURE WHICH SHUNNED ANYTHING FLAT, PREFERRING PATTERNS, TEXTURES AND RELIEFS
Her love of taxidermy and Victoriana can be seen in much of her work, not just in the birds she creates – often crows and magpies – but also in her hugely popular dressmaking dummies covered in gorgeously lavish hand-tooled leather. Her mirrors in a studded black leather frame or an intricate laser-cut form in intense vermillion leather, resembling a fiery autumnal leaf, bring high art to this everyday object.
Georgina’s work possesses incredible delicacy and precision. She talks of spending months practising making bird feathers out of leather well before moving onto the birds themselves. The technical challenge of creating something so light, so airy, out of something so durable and resistant as the vegetable tanned bridle leather that she favours drives the artist in her work. The dark, brooding corvids that have become her calling card have an incredible iridescent patina, and a similar virtuoso sense of colour is also seen in her playful, colourful kingfishers and macaws.
Self Reliance 2, part of her Bird Brain series, is a life-size heron, gilded with white gold leaf, that was shown at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 2019. It was a year-long creative process that saw the artist battle the natural resilience of leather, racking up countless sleepless nights, in an effort to re-create the graceful yet distorted curve of the bird’s neck. She works by creating a metal armature that she builds her structure around, dampening and bending the leather in a painstaking process before she starts the process of decoration and embellishment.
HER LOVE OF TAXIDERMY AND VICTORIANA CAN BE SEEN IN MUCH OF HER WORK
Working with leather was something that came to pass naturally; it was the medium of choice for Georgina’s sculptural nature which shunned anything flat, preferring patterns, textures, reliefs and the opportunity to emboss, mould and carve. She also takes her inspiration from leather wallcoverings and screens once found in wealthy Victorian homes. In her practice she makes the occasional foray into producing highly decorative leather coverings for one off items of furniture.
She is now on a journey to learn, practise and preserve traditional leather-making techniques. Whip-making is a dying craft in the UK, and one that Georgina is studying so that she can incorporate the principles into the organic snake-like, braided forms that she has been experimenting with. She is also dedicated to teaching others, passing on her own skills to future generations of artists.
Georgina will continue to exhibit at home and overseas. She can be contacted directly for commissions.