Artist Gerard Hanson was born in Bradford of Jamaican and Irish parents and much of his art explores his heritage and identity.
"I spent one year at Bradford Art College on the Art and Design Foundation course, in 1989/90, and I can quite honestly say it was the most exiting year out of all my time spent in education. Highlights included mark making week, which was simply an exercise in making as many marks as possible using anything from boot polish to tooth paste; and location drawing, where we spent a lovely day on Shipley Glen drawing. Life drawing sessions were particularly strange as the model was a chap who was extremely tall, so no matter how good your effort, he always looked slightly wrong. But I think most of all what stood out was the fact that we were all making art of some kind, every day for a whole year, which for a first for all of us. At lunch or after College we would all go to the Tumbling Inn across the road. This provided a great place to hang out and get to know each other, as we came from all over Yorkshire.
Having had very successful year, I went on to study a BA (Hons) Fine Art Printmaking and Photo Media degree at Central St. Martins, culminating in a Masters in Fine Art Printmaking at Wimbledon School of Art.”
Gerard combined his professional art practice, with teaching part-time at Buckingham Chilterns University College and Oxford & Cherwell Valley College (De-Monfort University). "I have always referred back to Bradford during my teaching career in further and higher education, using some of the tips and tricks acquired from the likes of Ian Taylor, Dave Rowling, Andy Griffiths and Chris Broughton, being careful to leave out the flowery bits, as Ian used to call them!
I have worked on a wide range of art projects over the years ranging from public art commissions to solo exhibitions both in the UK and abroad. Currently I am living and working in Kingston, Jamaica on a new series of work. I am here with my partner and two children for one year as a trial, though we might stay longer.
My first experience of coming to Jamaica when I was twenty gave me a very strong feeling of belonging and I have been coming back on regular basis ever since." Gerard's responded to this relationship with a vibrant show of acrylic paintings, Jamaica Was My Father's Home exhibited in Oxford, Newcastle and Jamaica. His current major project, People Out Of Place, "explores these itinerant communities within British and Jamaican society revealing many different signposts representing the past, present and future. Exposed is a generation searching for missing pieces of their cultural jigsaw, simultaneously finding acceptance and solace contrasted with rejection and torment. Such experiences are succinctly encapsulated in the offspring of mixed marriages who feel 'out of place' both 'here and there'.
Bradford has a very unique history of migration. My grandfather was Irish and I was lucky enough to spend time over there as a child, so at some point I hope to weave this element in also. It's not uncommon to find relationships between Irish and Jamaicans, as they were both subjected to exclusion after their arrival in Bradford. My mum and dad still live in Bradford so I come back when I can. Increasingly Bradford seems to be emerging as a place of fond memories even though times were pretty tough as a mixed race family. It's strange relationship I guess."
Gerard is also working on some other projects while in Jamaica. He is contributing to a group show with the concept of the black male in smart dress at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham in January 2010. He is also planning to show his work in Jamaica in Spring 2010.
"It is an honour to be part of Bradford College's Hall of Fame. As they say here in JA, 'one love!'"