Heavy with the memory of illness, Giorgia Bel never thought she would be a full-time artist. Almost half a decade ago this Newcastle-based artist picked up a paint brush for the first time, letting the smooth strokes of paint on canvas calm her anxious and fear-ridden mind as she navigated a personal health crisis. Now, seven years on, Giorgia’s distraction has become her life force. Every day she lifts the large folding doors of her converted storage unit and paints. “Plants drape and sunlight beams down,” she tells. “I’m singing and my dog Cash, a three-year-old rescue greyhound, is looking at me on and off between dozing… it’s beautiful. I’m really fortunate to have this spot.”
Giorgia’s love of colour and line was first cemented through her studies at the Interior Design Institute in Sydney, where architecture was a particular point of interest. While her layered painting style is an ode to her early studies of the built environment, her translation of the landscape, in all its rugged glory, is her true subject. “Most works over the past few years have been landscapes: mountains trees and streams,” she says. “I find inspiration while walking through the bushland.” Back in her studio, Giorgia recalls her walking ventures with equal parts memory and make-believe. She calls these paintings “rather dreams”. The scene may never have been witnessed but has been created by piecing together memories and fantasies of a remembered place. Seascape or bushland, her works are an outline of the idea of a landscape – a version of the truth.
Through her years of recovery Giorgia relished in the tactility of acrylic and oil paints, allowing its simplicity and forgiveness to calm her anxieties. It began as a playful game: kitchen utensils or objects found along ocean shores became paintbrushes, colours were mixed blindly until she found a hue that sparked joy inside her. Today, her practice remains about joy, its charming naivety creating space for viewers to find their own moment of calm within the paint. “I guess painting has always produced stillness, peace, warmth,” she tells. “If I could ever hope to give anything to anyone through what I make with my hands, it would be this.”