Could you describe your creative process?
It still seems strange to try to define or explain my creative process, even after years of working & attempting to edge myself closer to that intangible and much desired moment where the completed image before me meets the glimpse of the initial idea that had formed in my mind.
In many ways, I don’t see my creative process as being a separate concern from all other aspects of simply being in the world. It’s a constant companion going with me through the day, making notes on conversations, experiences and all that I see and take an interest in. Filtering, questioning, putting the pieces together in some new configuration.
My ideas tend to come to me as a surprise, flashing before my mind’s eye as though appearing magically. Often, only once they are executed can I fathom where they came from. Not all such images make it onto canvas, only the most persistent ones. If I place trust in them I do whatever is needed to make that painting exist, which is often a rather complex undertaking.
I work from my studio, which is a former saloon bar in an old London theatre. Much of my work has a theatrical aspect and I see direct parallels between the act of painting and that of performance. In 2009 I held an exhibition, ‘Roxana Halls’ Tingle-Tangle’ at the National Theatre, South Bank, London, in which each picture depicted a cabaret act. I paint directly from life, although I have my own interpretation of ‘life’. In order to make these pictures I transformed my studio into a kind of theatre company, built sets, made and sourced costumes & props and developed theatrical personas for each of my models. I have continued to work in a similar manner since then.
Which media do you prefer to work with and why?
The finished artwork is always oil on linen, but the hidden, ‘backstage’ artworks are constructed from many things, crockery, costume, fibreglass mannequins and food…board, fabric, sellotape and string… anything and everything necessary.
What do you intend for the audience to take away from your works?
I tend not to embark upon an image with a didactic agenda, I try to trust that the artwork will speak to those who are receptive to it and perhaps spark an interest or thought in those who are not. I do, however, have recurrent concerns which permeate all that I create. I consider myself to be working within the tradition of feminist art, and am drawn to investigate the meaning of key cultural trends from this specific viewpoint.
My work can be mischievous, humorous, sometimes a little uncanny or even sinister, but at the heart of it is deeply felt commitment to the painted image and all that it can achieve.
Do you have a favourite artist and could you tell us about them?
There are so many artists working in many fields I’ve looked to over the years, and their importance at any specific time is always directly linked to whatever I’m currently preoccupied with, but inevitably there are some ever present heroes. The art of Goya, Francis Bacon, Karin Mamma Andersson, Joseph Cornell and Phillip Guston. The films of Powell & Pressburger, Werner Herzog and David Lynch. The novels of Marylinne Robinson, Margaret Atwood and Tove Jansson.
What do you find most challenging about being an artist?
Being a working-class, self-taught artist has presented all the challenges you might imagine. Beyond that, those crushing moments when you have to acknowledge the gulf between your hope for an artwork & the reality of what you have made, and equally when you are forced to recognise that while you may strive for evolution in your work to an extent you just can’t escape yourself…it’s like looking in the mirror each day & saying ‘oh god, you again!’
Trying to bring a painting to fruition without overworking it & before the momentum has diminished.
Balancing working on different projects at the same time.
What did you most enjoy about Winter Pride UK 2014?
As an out lesbian I was delighted to be part of an event intended to highlight the achievements of the LGBT community & it has been wonderful to show my work alongside such a diverse range of artworks by so many talented artists.
Roxana Halls is currently working towards her forthcoming solo exhibition, Appetite, to be held at Hayhill Gallery, Baker St. London, in late 2014, alongside creating a new major project, a 7 interlinking canvas interpretation of The Wizard Of Oz.
To find out more visit http://www.roxanahalls.com or follow her on Twitter @RoxanaHalls
The Winter Pride Competition Finalist artworks can now be seen at Winter Pride UK: The Next Level, Office Sessions at East India Dock from the 13 February – 13 March.