Your Space Or Mine
In personal and commissioned works – ranging from vivid, characterful portraits to murals and illustrative design for clubs, music venues, events and campaigns – the artist Molly Hankinson produces bold and subtly detailed, inclusive celebrations of feminine vitality.
The lush digital painting titled ‘Glasgow Tenement’ features a young woman seated at a tall, open sash window. She’s perched with one leg folded over the other, smoking a cigarette. It’s the colours as much as the composition that hint at this everyday solace being never-the-less a special time. Rich mustard walls, dark greens and purples, dusky blue sky outside and languorous plant life around her all suggest a moment of quiet calm. We sense the tranquil atmosphere and connect to a figure lost in her own thoughts.
Other portraits are brasher, equally enthralling but sometimes almost formidable. In the work titled ‘Jaconelli’s’ – the Scottish/Italian café famous for its fry-ups and ice cream – a womxn sits casually on the back of her booth seat, munching a chip and looking directly at the viewer as if to say, ‘This is me, taking up my space, get used to it!’ Again, striking hues compliment Hankinson’s unerringly bold design. The use of pattern and block colour conjures thoughts of Patrick Caulfield but spying the row of sweet jars in the background there’s wit and sense of place too. Anyone for a quarter of Soor Plums?
So, Hankinson is exceptionally responsive and inventive in visual terms. But her works are not only the result of closely observing her subjects – her analogue drawing skills are exquisite, check out her self-portrait w. a giant Swiss cheese plant on Instagram – she also listens to their stories and dreams, their challenges and triumphs. And then communicates these to the viewer.
A further look at Hankinson’s art projects posted on Instagram demonstrate her thoughtful commitment to social issues: intersectional feminism; empathic, planet friendly eco action; the championing of inclusive representation; mental health awareness; body positivity and the importance of being kind to yourself as well as others.
In tandem with such life affirming subject matter comes tactful linear skills. Digital portraiture can sometimes flatten personality, an individual’s spirit is lost in clotted outlines. This isn’t the case here. Maybe because her process combines the hand drawn elements made prior to digital development, Hankinson’s figures project dispositions that are variously distinctive, powerful – as noted above her subjects clearly own their space – and at the same time often exude warmth as well as supreme self-assurance.
The surroundings in Hankinson’s artwork can be just as ‘talkative’ as the people she depicts. There’s a bold use of architectural detail, dynamic patterning, inventive rendering of textures and cleverly abstracted forms – the flora is a particular delight – and a wealth of precious objects, the stuff we live with, the comfort of things. In commissioned pieces she captures her subjects’ likeness and then adds carefully curated details that embellish these portraits with clues to events and stories that carry further cherished meanings.
For this latest Build Hollywood family Your Space Or Mine outing Hankinson is showing sixteen of her brilliant creations across Glasgow. She explained that “Most of the works are either set in a particular place and/or incorporate a nod to Glasgow’s identity. Three of the pieces came out of a collaboration I did with a female-led independent business last year where we deliberately wanted to celebrate our great city by choosing famous/infamous locations from across Glasgow.” The city streets are in for a treat.