Meet Geraldine Swayne

Geraldine Swayne is a painter who works mainly in miniature in enamel on metal. She studied Fine Art at Newcastle University from 1985–89 and in 1990 she won a Northern Arts Travel award to paint and make super-8 films about Voodoo in New Orleans. She then moved to rural France for a year, living as a portraitist and making a series of large outdoor paintings.

Geraldine in her studio

In 1992 she moved to the UK and became a pioneer special effects designer at Computer Film Company, in London and later, Los Angeles. She then made numerous experimental films including the world’s first super-8 to Imax film 'East End', produced by Cathy Shaw, and narrated by Miriam Margolyes with music by Nick Cave. After leaving the film industry in 2004 she worked as an assistant for Jake and Dinos Chapman rebuilding 'Hell'.

Geraldine Swayne, Self Portraits, Great Big Slag

Geraldine is best known however for her suggestive and mysterious paintings, populated by people on the verge of action, like film stills. The atmosphere is thick with tension and heightened emotion yet the narrative is obscured, like entering a room where a television has been left paused. Swayne’s scenes are often awkward, haunting, sexy, bizarre, dark, or amusing – sometimes all at once. Her oblique narrative references allow the viewer to project their own story onto the works.

New Bra and Knickers, Geraldine Swayne

The source material for Swayne’s imagery is diverse, from personal photographs to pornographic magazines. The ‘Lydia’ paintings are based upon childhood photographs given to Swayne by the writer and performer Lydia Lunch, while ‘Danish Dirty Dolls’ is named after the pornographic magazine from which the image came.

One thing led to another, Geraldine Swayne

The immediacy of Swayne’s work is evident in both her large-scale canvases, with sweeping loose, acrylic brushwork, and her intimate miniature portraits, painted with enamel on small copper or aluminium panels

Earlier in 2017 a retrospective of Geraldine's work was held at The Fine Art Society at London and was a great success. One reviewer asked 'Is Geraldine Swayne The Best Portrait Painter in Britain Today?'. The collection was entitled Silvering, inspired by the aluminium the artist tends to paint on, her repeated exploration of the colour and it's link with magic and ageing. On the project she said:

“A theme fairly quickly emerged, stylistically, in the use of silver, this is not initially a surprise since the majority of my work in recent years has been painted on aluminium, but silver also showed up as a device in several of the other paintings too. I love using it. It’s lustrous and impenetrable and armoured.

“Silver-ing is also the name of a difficult and arcane form of mirror-making, which is very close to photography, nearly trapping phantom reflections onto a surface, which is an idea I love. It’s also silvering, as is silvering hair! It was funny how ephemeral themes in my work got described by the material so well."

Geraldine Swayne

Geraldine has had success as a musician and film maker as well, which undoubtedly inform the work. She is a member of the Krautrock band Faust, and some of her artworks were made live on stage during performances with the group. 

Geraldine has been one of the best loved artists to have featured at The Other Art Fair. Watch the short film made by TOAF with Geraldine here. She has three postcards in this years auction so get ready to bid as her work is among some of the best being made today. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published