Transforming everyday items into objets d’art comes naturally for artist and UniSA lecturer, Louise Haselton. From correction fluid to cotton spools, discarded string to concrete, she is renowned for her ability to reimagine, repurpose and convert the most ordinary items into something special and new.
And when you see her works up close, it’s easy to understand why.
Standing in front of her two exhibited pieces at the Art Gallery of South Australia, it takes a moment to realise that this art comprises a collage of butterfly wings, encased within a white boundary of Liquid Paper. Unusual materials, yes, but together they work, and according to Haselton, this assemblage is all about looking at the inherent quality of materials and trying to work out how they relate to each other.
“I’m drawn to everyday objects from the world around me, which could be anything that I find and like the look of. But it’s also about displaying things and exposing them for what they are,” Haselton says.
“It all begins with being engaged with the world, sitting down and noticing something. The starting point is having an experience – then I just make a start, and things evolve.”
This ability to amalgamate and transform materials has seen Haselton named as the South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival featured artist for 2019.
SALA is Australia’s biggest community-based visual arts festival that presents the works of more than 9000 living artists in 700 exhibitions and events across Adelaide and regions.
This honour will see Haselton’s work displayed in a major exhibition at the Samstag Museum in 2019, and grace the cover of the 2019 SALA Festival program and poster. She will also be commemorated in the official 2019 SALA monograph, funded by Arts South Australia to be published by Wakefield Press.
“I'm thrilled to be selected as the recipient of the 2019 SALA/Wakefield Press artist monograph and as a featured artist in the 2019 Festival,” Haselton says.
“The monograph is really special. It’s essentially a book of my complete works, accompanied by commentary from Leigh Robb – the senior curator at the South Australian Art Gallery, Gillian Brown – the curator at the SAMSTAG museum, and local writer Jenna McKenzie.
“Plus, being invited to have a solo exhibition at Samstag Museum is a real honour and it will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase my work, both new and existing.”
The SAMSTAG exhibition will feature a range of Haselton’s artworks from the past 10-15 years, including the striking three-dimensional sculptural piece Scrutineers, created from copper, brass, rocks and mirrored discs. It will also feature a range of new works which will be created over the next six months.
“I have lots of ideas floating around at the moment, and to be honest, I have to sit in the gallery and get to know the space,” Haselton says.
“In some ways you’re a designer as much as an artist – especially when it comes to creating sculptural pieces; this is when the environment becomes really important.”
Haselton’s sculptural artwork has recently been exhibited in Do It Adelaide at the Samstag Museum of Art, Magic Object: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, at The Art Gallery of SA and Fabrik at the Ian Potter Museum and Sutton Gallery Project Space, Melbourne.
As a UniSA lecturer since 2003 with UniSA’s School of Art Architecture and Design, Haselton’s students also benefit by learning from a practising artist.
“Being a working artist and a lecturer, means that students see that this kind of career is not off limits to them; that it is accessible and achievable,” Haselton says.
“The students get to know me as a person. They see that I have foibles, just like anyone else, and that I’m able to continue to have this as a career. And in this way, it brings the career of an artist closer to them, allowing them to think, ‘yes, I can do this too’.
“But the inspiration, absolutely goes both ways. The students always bring inspiration to me too.”
And, her advice to students seeking to carve out a career as an artist?
“In the words of Nike – Just do it. Obviously, you need the skills and talent as well, but so much of success is about commitment and a sense of belief that you will get there,” Haselton says.
“And, you’ve got to accept that it’s a long-term gig. You need to quietly manage your life so that you can create and get by at the same time.”
To find out more about Louise Haselton’s work, visit the Greenaway Galleries website.
The SALA Festival runs from 1-31 August. To find out more visit the SALA website.