At times, facing a blank canvas can be a daunting prospect for any artist, but facing a blank cow is quite another matter! Minna George was working as an artist in residence in the Darren Baker Gallery, London, when she was approached by Vines Group [BMW & MINI ] to paint the cow they had sponsored as part of the Surrey Cow Parade. Where does one begin to paint a cow? Minna considered carefully the three significant elements the cow would represent and her concept evolved from there. She felt she needed to represent the charity the cow would be auctioned for, the sponsor who had kindly provided the cow for her to paint, and thirdly, pay homage to her own style of work.
The benefitting charity from the auction of this cow will be Dreamflight. This registered charity brings children with a serious illness or disability, accompanied by a medical team, to Florida, for a superb adventure filled holiday. Dreamflight enables children who have come through great trials, to experience a memorable and joyful break from the daily difficulties they face. The cost of a Dreamflight trip currently stands around £3 500 per child. Children love to laugh and have fun, even in the worst of circumstances, and it was Minna’s desire to reflect joy and humour in the cow, and so a superhero cow was born! It has a superhero’s cape in the form of the Union Flag fluttering over it’s back, and as every superhero requires a mask to shield or impose its identity, this one is extremely fortunate to have a 24 carat gold leaf mask, no less. A public vote through social media helped Minna make the decision to name the cow “Minna Moo”, which dovetails with the Vines Group sponsor, who retail MINI.
The more it is studied and observed, Minna Moo, unfolds itself, like the superhero theme it represents. Minna George is highly trained artist, gaining a Distinction in her Masters degree. She is currently celebrating and marking 20 years as a professional artist through her new book, “MINNA GEORGE – THE COLLECTION, VOLUME 1, 1996-2016,” Her exceptional skill becomes increasingly apparent with each viewing of this embellished animal. Applying gold leaf is an exceedingly skilled technique. In her early years at school in Bulgaria, Minna studied the art of Icon painting, which uses gold to represent the brightness and glow of spirituality. Gold is precious and treasured, as are the children Minna Moo hopes to uplift. As a heartening and inspirational piece, Minna wanted the cow to be bright and cheerful. In order to achieve this in her work she uses raw pigments to make her paints. These begin as extremely vibrant colours, which she gradually subdues as required. On Minna Moo she has certainly achieved her goal. There is a burst and riot of colour on both sides of the cow, integrating swirls and details of exuberant patterns that delight the eye, and turn a familiar form into a complex work of art. The black horns represent the more solid and serious note of children having to endure illness.
One of the main influences throughout Minna’s life in art has been the Expressionists. She sees herself as a romantic artist, referencing the weather, mist, landscapes, how light passes through tree crowns, clouds and leaves. Through her art she then interprets the emotions these natural phenomena evoke. It is impossible to duplicate her work as it develops organically. On this piece, the shapes were all inspired by the natural shapes of the animal, which unlike the normal medium of a canvas, are not flat. The two sides of the cow are very different, representing seasonal change using the organic development of colour and line to create a complex and alluring design.
Minna Moo is a Superhero cow in motion. The cape flutters on it’s back as it goes about it’s important task of bringing joy to children so they can experience one of the simplest yet most profound gifts of childhood – what it is to smile and have a giggle at something extraordinarily wonderful. The Dreamflight children, more than most, know what it is to overcome and feel like superheros.