'Your curiosity is your style' - George Browne on his work

Pictured is George Browne. 

A body of work by George Browne deconstructing iconic predator football boots and turning them into masks, photographing them and making prints. Pictured is George Browne. - Credit: Kev Foster

Each week, I speak to a Norwich local making an impact on the arts in our city. This week, artist George Browne, of Philip Browne.

MBR, by George Browne.

MBR, by George Browne. - Credit: George Browne

1. How would you best describe your role within the arts community? 

I’m still finding my feet and gaining some rhythm with my own work, especially balancing my productivity with two young children.

My time in my studio largely consists of painting, but I’m interested in collage and sculpture too. 

With my paintings, there generally isn’t an idea or theme running through them, only that I aim to be as present as possible when I’m in front of the work, and eliminate any form of execution of an ‘idea’ unless I actually have one. 

Early forms tend to be born out of curiosity with mark making and texture, and then the mind tends to drift off into a playful state. 

The space in our front window at Philip Browne is multi-faceted. It’s a great space to present products we sell, but also to approach each idea as a potential installation - which offers the opportunity to work with artists and creatives. 

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We have just finished a collaborative installation with Anmar Mirza and Moosey art. He’s created a fantastic work celebrating the arrival of spring.

Celebrating the Arrival of Spring, by Anmar Mirza.

A collaborative installation between Philip Browne Menswear, Anmar Mirza and Moosey art. Celebrating the Arrival of Spring, by Anmar Mirza. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

As an artist, having this space as a blank canvas is really exciting and unique. Sometimes I go to bed thinking of the most extravagant ideas. The best part is collaborating with our fantastic team at Philip Browne to make it all happen and we always get such positive responses from the public.

One day we would love to collaborate with NUA to potentially give aspiring creatives the opportunity to showcase their work in a public space. Our next artist collaboration will hopefully be happening in July.

2. What do you love so much about the Norwich art scene?

I love seeing the growing variety of work and possibilities for aspiring and established artists in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and the region. 

The Fairhurst Gallery, Moosey Art, Outpost, Norwich Museum and The Yare Gallery to name a few favourites - keep up the smashing work! 

Norwich itself is building momentum, and recognition of the arts are the backbone to this. The Norfolk and Norwich festival has been a fantastic asset for the community over the years - we’re looking forward to its return in May!

It's All OK, by George Browne.

It's All OK, by George Browne. - Credit: George Browne

3. What are you working on at the moment?

In all honesty, it’s been tough to get in the studio of late to paint, but I’m always dipping and diving between ongoing projects, ideas and conversations. 

I’ve had an ongoing project called “When the fun stops, stop”. This is Coral’s slogan to help battle gambling addiction - the irony in this is the basis of the project.

I’ve been collecting betting slips for a number of years now and making collages/works out of them. I’m hopeful that one day they’ll be presented, raising questions about the gambling industry in sport and the catastrophic problems they can create.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?

When I was at art school, I felt the overwhelming pressure to have my own style...? 

This is a total fabrication of the mind and leads to unnecessary battles with yourself in the studio. So I would say this: your curiosity is your style - let that drive your creativity. 

If in doubt, subtract and simplify. Sometimes it’s easy to over-complicate an idea or process, especially when we’re trying to extract meaning from it.

CBLB, by George Browne. 

CBLB, by George Browne. - Credit: George Browne

5. What does an average weekday look like for you?

My day starts with the kids at 6am (if I’m lucky), I have a nine-month-old girl and a three-year-old boy - they keep me on my feet in the mornings, after a wearied eyed coffee, they give me more energy than the caffeine does. 

We tend to dance in the kitchen whilst eating porridge, cup of tea to mumma and then either a drop off at nursery for the lad or I walk to work, headphones on, setting my agenda for the day in my head.

Get to the office and discuss with my right hand man Kev Foster and brother Sam, attending to our product imagery for our website and socials. 

If I had something going in the studio I would nip in on the walk home, alternatively I would get in there once the kids are down and the belly is full, but currently I’m in the far too luxuriously wonderful habit of slumping on the sofa with my partner Rosie.

6. Where is your favourite spot in Norwich?

It was the mushy pea stall on the market, but sadly after 75 years and without warning they shut up shop. 

So it would have to be Norfolk Daily Fresh, a store opposite the Artichoke on Magdalen road - they have the best fruit and veg, a bakery, a butchers and all the trinkets in between.

7. Can you name one East Anglian creative whose work you admire?

Jamie Andrews. Not only is his work beyond brilliant, but he’s a top notch bloke and I owe him a lot as he taught me at city college when I was one. 

He made me start to think about the endless possibilities of what art can be, and without his influence I’m not sure where I was going. Thanks Jamie. Also Colin Self, Anmar Mirza, Sophie Giller and Bruer Tidman.

For more, follow...
@georg.ebrowne on Instagram and cargocollective.com/georgebrowne