Georgia Grinter’s Biro-based drawings are inspired by overheard conversations

A move away from painting led Georgia Grinter to discover the “underrated utilitarian quality” of Biro.

9 January 2020


Listening in on people’s conversations is something we are all guilty of from time to time. For Georgia Grinter, these overheard snippets, particularly from the elderly, have provided inspiration for much of her work.

“I was fascinated by the sassy things you say when you’re older,” she tells It’s Nice That. “It’s like we grow to be adults to eventually become children again in the realisation there’s only one life and one of you and we should say what we want. I sit in Waitrose cafes, where there are always golden-war-agers taking advantage of the free coffee deal, and I listen in on conversations.”

Finding inspiration from things as simple as a supermarket cafe, the Glasgow School of Art graduate’s Biro-based drawings explore a range of human emotions. “I like to depict underlying sensitivities avoided in everyday life, or the opposite, where people are comfortably themselves,” she says.”Objects become each other and people become objects as they move around in the happenings of daily life, reflecting each other’s mood.” This fluidity is clear in her work, where you can often find human outlines merging with the objects and furniture around them.

Having been based in Glasgow until recently, Georgia held her first solo show of Biro drawings at The New Glasgow Society. After leaving Scotland this summer, she then went on to complete a one-month art residency with PADA in Barreiro, Portugal, where she collaborated with a mentor from painting magazine, Turps Banana.


Georgia Grinter

As the residency suggests, Georgia’s Biro drawings have lead to her painting again, something that was actually a catalyst for her move to adopting a more simple method in the first place. “For a while, I felt I didn’t have the capacity to unload an image onto a page and to react to colours at the same time. I felt overwhelmed by oil paint and that I couldn’t be sensitive to it; as a poor student, I was fearful of wasting money on what would end up becoming brown sludge,” she explains. “I started off sketching with Biro, often because it was the only thing to hand. I liked its underrated utilitarian quality and its familiarity.”

The simplicity and ease of using just one piece of equipment in one colour was ultimately something that allowed her to focus on her work more clearly. “I am drawn to folk artists’ use of basic, near at hand materials; it creates an immediacy in their work that I find really moving. With its sticky scratchiness I found I was able to ‘lean into’ my work with Biro, and create tonal shadows, which is really important to my style,” she says.

When it comes to producing a finished piece of work Georgia has a rather strict approach, forcing herself to “sit outside somewhere awkward or cold where I’ve found the right people or shadow,” she says. “I need to make the drawing quickly when I’ve sensed the necessary energy, then the composition evolves and feels like a most immediate response.”

Having worked across a number of mediums over the last few years, Georgia is continuing to diversify. “I’ve just returned from a three-week workaway near Carcassonne, working with a weaver, knitting and taking time to work on my French while exploring more deeply how language affects communication,” she says. “It’s a deeply complex matter that most inspires my work.”

Having moved around a lot recently, Georgia’s plans are to base herself in London for 2020. You can look out for her in a supermarket cafe near you…

GalleryGeorgia Grinter


Fishing for hands


All Fours


We Go Around

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Georgia Grinter

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About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.

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