ABOVE Hannah Secord Wade stands before finished oil paintings; she also works in acrylic.
AS TOLD TO SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
In her Woolwich garage, Hannah Secord Wade wrestles with containing chaos in vibrant, richly layered works.
ABOVE A stash of artificial fruit that conjures the piles in some of her art provides inspiration, but she doesn’t paint from it. A giant hand-woven and beaded rug has been a side project for seven months.
Living in cities, finding and keeping studio space was always a struggle. You share it or there’s no heat or a landlord leaves with your security deposit. So when my husband and I found this 1830s farmhouse on 26 acres of hayfields with a semi-heated, post-and-beam garage for a studio, it was perfect. We came from New York apartments so we’re still decorating. But it inspires me to have empty walls. I think, ‘what could I fill them with?’ I have a lot of ideas about what I want to put on large canvases and so I have to decide which are most urgent. They come from my sketchbooks and I use an app called Painter that’s helpful because I can be out and jot down something quickly in full color. When I start on the canvases, the original idea isn’t what I end up doing because I’m reacting to marks I make and washing away ones that aren’t interesting. Objects start out clear and, as the layers build, they sort of get washed away too — I call this representation being eaten by abstraction. The works also depict this cycle of gathering and letting go. Baskets, fountains, the edges of a canvas are ways to contain things, but they don’t work — things spill over the edges. It’s somewhat universal, this feeling of being out of control and trying to gain stability, and I never get tired of exploring it.”