Louise Hall

We know we tend to focus more on designers and their ilk more than “artists” but today we chat to Louise Hall, a local fine artist with a number of exhibitions and years of teaching under her belt. We chat to her about how art is perceived and why drawing and teaching is so important to her.


DIY:  For those who have not come into contact with you or your work, can you please give us a little background information on who Louise Hall is?

Louise: I am a working artist and have exhibited my work nationally and internationally in solo and group shows. My work is part of private and public collections in South Africa and overseas.
I am currently registered for a practice-led PhD at the Centre for Visual Art, UKZN, having completed a Masters in Fine Art cum laude at the same institution in 2007. I have art teaching experience at high school, university and adult education levels. I am also an experienced facilitator, having worked in the organisational and development facilitation context. I was a founder member of DWEBA, an NGO that worked with rural craftswomen and developed a participatory training methodology using drawing as a central component. This methodology was published as a resource guide in 2001 entitled, “Drawing Our Lives”.

Like many contemporary artists, drawing is a primary medium and process in my work. The media I use include oil paint on board and canvas, as well as conté, charcoal, pencil and ink on paper. My work presently explores figurative images and ideas of impermanence, transition and change.

My most recent solo show, Fine Lines, was exhibited at UJ Gallery, Johannesburg, in April 2012 and KZNSA, Durban in June 2012. The last leg of this travelling exhibition will be shown at Grande Provence, Franschhoek from 30 September – 25 October 2012.


DIY: How would you describe the way your work has evolved over the years? Where do you see it going? What is the most defining characteristic in your work?

Louise: My works have always involved drawing in both paint and drawing media. This central medium and process of skilled drawing has ‘over the years’ become a clear focus in my work. I suppose my work has become more confident as I have come to understand my artistic process. Where do you see it going? It is difficult to be precise – the outcomes of artistic practice are usually a little unpredictable. But my plan is to keep working as inventively as I can. What is the most defining characteristic in your work? The drawn figurative element is key.


DIY: What are some of the stories behind the pieces in your Fine Lines body of work? What were you hoping to resolve within yourself with these explorations? How was this exhibition received in Johannesburg and Durban, was the feedback positive, negative or a mix of the two?

Louise: The image I have explored in the installation of 19 drawings entitled, Becoming, 2009 – 2012, is a motorcyclist which I treated as a pupa. This motorcyclist pupa I intend as a metaphor for transition. Having completed Metamorphosis, 2009, (120 x 240 cm oil on gesso) I started drawing real pupae and larvae in my search for clues to develop images and ideas about change and impermanence. I then realized that I could treat anything as a pupa – and the motorcyclist seemed to hold potential. I was initially drawn to the paradox of simultaneous speed and stillness. On reflection the motorcyclist pupa contains other paradoxes other than speed and temporary stillness. Some of these are noise and silence, or muteness; mechanical griminess and organic newness, rebirth/growth; power and fragility; absence and presence; masculine and feminine. The painting you, Stathi, have chosen to use as a Header reflects the motorcyclist pupa as a small (in relation to the imaginary landscape) negative shape. Art works are complex and can’t easily be whittled down to a single meaning or a single question. But one question I continue to explore by treating the pupa as an outline in this painting, is whether metamorphosis is about absence or presence? Being there or not being there?? Bit like Hamlet- to be or not to be? In this painting – to be there or not to be there???? Kidding but you know what I mean.

In general, these images help me come to terms with an age-old human concern of dealing with the uncertainty and impermanence of life. These works also help me better understand my own use of drawing. How was this exhibition received in Johannesburg and Durban, was the feedback positive, negative or a mix of the two? Very well, in both places.


DIY: You mention in the Fine Lines brochure that you hope this body of work “may contribute to contemporary drawing practice”. What conversations about drawing are you hoping to start? In what why do you think this body of work will impact the notion of drawing and how it is practiced and used in the current sphere of art?

Louise: Not really wanting to start a conversation but rather to add to current debate. Drawing has undergone a fundamental function and status shift in the last fifty years. From being historically a mainly preparatory medium it is a primary medium of expression for many contemporary artists. As a consequence of this recent radical shift, current drawing practice and discourse is fluid; drawing is difficult to define and there is also little consensus among players in the field over what drawing actually is. Much contemporary practice interrogates given traditions of artistic approach methods and process. In relation to drawing, some contemporary practice involves questioning for example, whether drawing skill is imperative. This body of work in Fine Lines asserts the value of skilled drawing. I would go as far as saying that I think through the medium of drawing. The skilled nature of drawing widens my choices in this regard and facilitates rigorous and inventive thinking. Another aspect re current debate that this work highlights is the element of line. Though drawing is difficult to define, one incontrovertible characteristic of drawing seems to be line. The work in Fine Lines underscores the linear nature of drawing. In what why do you think this body of work will impact the notion of drawing and how it is practiced and used in the current sphere of art? I’ll keep you posted – it’s hard to tell.


DIY: When you go about creating a new artwork, what are you hoping the eventual viewer will take away from that piece? What do you want the world to know about you when they engage with your artworks?

Louise: I never work with an audience or particular viewer in mind. But I do trust that aspects of the work will resonate with some viewers. What do you want the world to know about you when they engage with your artworks? I think the work is more important than me. So if a viewer keeps on thinking about an image or parts of an image or the way I draw – if the complexity of the artwork makes a viewer want to come back again and again to look a work, then I am happy.


DIY: How important to you is the viewer’s interpretation (or misinterpretation) of your work? Do you feel that your job as the artist is merely to put out that question or spark that idea that lets one’s mind form its own answers and thoughts? Is there ever a worry about your work being completely misread and how do you deal with that?

Louise: I don’t worry about misreading – I am always fascinated by viewers’ responses to my work. In looking at an art work each viewer brings their own experience and thinking. It is useful for me to hear what people think and see. It is useful because it sometimes helps me understand my work a little more fully.


DIY: You are regarded as a seasoned artist with many years spent teaching and exhibiting in solo shows. Is creativity something that needs to be nurtured? What rituals have you  encouraged your past students to practice daily?

Louise: Yes, constantly. One never arrives. What rituals have you encouraged your past students to practice daily? I don’t know about rituals, but I believe what is important to convey is that creativity is inherently risky and uncertain. What we as artists need to do is manage ourselves in relation to this process – rather than to try and control, play it safe, or run away when the process becomes chaotic.



DIY: What have you got planned for 2012?

Louise: This exhibition will be shown at Grande Provence Gallery in Franschhoek at the end of September. . . I am also waiting for my examination results (end of Sept early Oct) – this body of work also forms part of practice-led PhD and is one of the first in SA.

You can find out more about Louise and take a look at more of her work on her website


12 Responses to “Louise Hall”
  1. pissingblood says:

    “Fine Art” What a racket…

  2. Chef Goldblum says:

    Bullshit answers.
    Bullshit work.

  3. Greg says:

    I stopped reading as soon as she referred to herself in the third person. Ain’t nothing fine about Fine Art.

  4. Ry says:

    Cool drawings. Convoluted answers.

  5. Mary says:

    Wonderful interview. A nice change.
    These idiots above have just been put into a little box by Vega.

  6. Daniel Day Lewis says:


  7. Matt says:

    Now now kids, not everything happens in the blink of an eye. It is far easier to point fingers and scold than to actively think and interrogate; questions, answers and context. Some of the above comments sadly illustrate, initially by their authors pseudonyms of anonymity, the levels of calculated thought and perspective that are so entrenched and further perpetuated by self proclaimed know it all critics. Treat yourselves by thinking about your comments and actions on public forums such as this, write a comment that has some productive reference and not just something that you vainly hope might make your limited attention span seem relevant.

    Thanks for the great article

  8. Jonathan says:

    What does Vega have to do with the above comments? Great comment Matt.

  9. Thea says:

    I love Louise’s work 🙂
    Always the first artist that I look for in the Tatham.

  10. Fruglestein says:

    Ah the naysayers…the badass interweb critics safe under the guises of their preppy pseudonyms, eating niknaks behind their computer screens with no intention of actually critically engaging with the work.

    Sheesh, it seems a bit silly and nonconstructive to be an internet hater.

    Louise your work is phenomenal.

    Let the haters hate.

  11. Hannahbean says:



  12. Lori Clarke says:

    I caught your exhibit at the KNSA recently, and loved how you reworked that one image of the the biker . Very inspiring. I would totally ignore some of the previous comments. Your work is superb , Lori Clarke

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