Penny Hallas


Artist’s Statement:

The Black Mountains, Wales, where I live and work, is typically seen as a site of natural beauty. Yet it is riddled with the scars of industrial activity from the earliest days of the industrial revolution to current engineering projects seen as essential to the local economy. One aspect of my practice consists in walking the landscape and watching out for the cast-offs and remnants of such activity, many of which, having passed through the transformations of time and chemistry, have acquired, for me, a certain aura, almost akin to ritual objects. Once purely utile, they have acquired a poetic force and different kind of value. It’s now clear that the manipulation of desire, through the endless proliferation and marketing of consumer goods has global effects whose damage is out of all proportion to the apparent innocence of the products and their commercial theatres of display. The re-contextualised objects in these drawings have the virtue of owning up not only to their own damaged nature and the damaging nature of the economic forces which originally brought them into being, but also of pointing forward into the looming catastrophe. They are the aftermath which points to the coming aftermath.

The Covid outbreak brought new layers of understanding as to the depth of our reliance on capitalism and commercialism, highlighting the conflict we experience between necessity, desire and the fear of the ecological and human costs of such reliance. The full series of twelve drawings combine large structures with small found objects in a continuous landscape in the form of a myriorama, with interchangeable panels offering multiple variations and narratives. The confusion of scales alludes to the ambiguous position of the viewer/consumer in relation to past processes, at once distant and forcefully present in their discovered remnants; where a tiny object not only equates in visual and imaginative terms with a huge one, but might seem to stand for the power of vast transformative industrial/social/political events.


About the Artist:

Born and raised in Leeds, England, I now live and work in Llangattock, a small village in the Black Mountains, Wales. Whilst drawing is at the heart of my practice, I am a multi-media artist, using video, painting, photography and sculptural elements, often in the form of found objects. I have long standing artistic concern with perceptions of the countryside and the relationships, processes and impact between interconnecting systems: environment, industry, tourism, agriculture, rural/urban.

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