Tag Archives: My Art


I must start doing these round-ups more often because cool stuff keeps happening.

Art Stuff

Sister Diane from Craftypod bought one of my envelopes and wrote a rave review of it.

Diane Gilleland: Red drawing by Kirsty Hall, June 2010

Julie Shackson also bought an envelope recently and she loved it too.

If you lust after an envelope of your very own, click here – they’re a total bargain and who doesn't enjoy getting fun thing in the mail?

The sequins are coming along just fine: there's still masses of sewing to do but I'm starting to feel that I'm on the home stretch. I was getting dangerously low but fortunately found a supply of almost identical ones and bought an enormous bag that should be more than enough to finish the apron. If you're in the UK and need haberdashery stuff, I was hugely impressed by the service I received from JosyRose.

I've also been doing a bit of drawing but I'm feeling out of balance lately - far too much internet/business stuff and not enough studio time. Sigh, are we artists ever satisfied? I don't think so.

Want to win some of my art?

My dear friend Camilla Stacey is currently raising money for her MA. Camilla has been a huge supporter of other artists through her curating work and it would be fantastic if the art community could return that support. I’ve donated two original drawings to her fundraising raffle and there’s also the chance to win work by Alys Paterson, Claire Platt, Peskimo and Elin Thomas.

Camilla says, “I will be mailing out the artwork to prize winners totally free of charge, so for a mere quid you could get something awesome for your wall that would normally set you back ££££££££”

Raffle tickets are only £1 or 10 for £5. There are more details here or you can go straight to Camilla's paypal (don't forget to tell her how many tickets you want). Oh, and if you're in Bristol, pop along to her fundraising sale tomorrow at the Here gallery in Stokes Croft.

Internet Stuff

Honeys, I’ve been a busy little internet bee lately.

I did a long interview about lists, systems and productivity over at Craft Leftovers. It’s a lot more interesting than I’m making it sound!

I also wrote a guest post for Be Awesome Online. It’s called The Power Of Words and it’s all about how the titles we give ourselves have power.

And as usual, I've been talking my mouth off over on Twitter.

Business Stuff

My Internet Hand-holding consulting will be going up in price on September 1st, so if you’ve been thinking about buying some of my time and expertise, now is an excellent time to do so. Sister Diane bought one and she's already been seeing great results from her reorganisation.

I finally got round to putting a newsletter sign-up on the sidebar (look to your right and you'll see it). I need to prettify it but hey, at least it’s there. It’s only taken me three years! I'm still not entirely sure what my newsletter plans are but if you want to sign up, I'm be thrilled. I promise not to do anything evil with the information: let's face it, I'm just not organised enough to spam you incessantly!

Facebook Fan Page
If you want regular news but don't want to sign up for my intermittent newsletter or you find I talk too much on Twitter, my Facebook fanpage might suit you better.

Educational Stuff

I’m on a huge education kick at the moment and have been absorbing online classes, e-books and library books like a deranged info-product addict.

If you’ve been thinking about writing an e-book, Sister Diane still has places on her brand new e-book course, which starts on Monday. I’m taking part and it sounds like it's going to be an amazing group. I'm super excited about it. And yes, this does mean you can expect some e-books from me in the future.

Like many artists, I struggle with pricing my work so naturally I'm taking this class about pricing art. The fact that it's by two of my favourite internet people - Tara Swiger of Blonde Chicken and Catherine Caine of Be Awesome Online - was also a big incentive. I've worked with both of them before and they rock at explaining stuff.

I also joined The Creative Empire, a new subscription community by Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl and Megan Auman from Crafting an MBA. The forums are very good value, plus there's exclusive seminars and practical worksheets. I think the initial price of $15 a month only lasts until the end of August, so join now if you need a bit of support for your creative business.

Cool Stuff (In No Particular Order)

Gareth from Fight Mediocrity made a fab flowsheet (PDF link) inspired by my mantra 'is it useful? Is it fun?' It has ducks and chickens, people, ducks and chickens!

If you're in Britain and want to garden but you don't have space, or you have land but need help, Landshare connects people. I've joined as a landowner, I'm hoping to find some local people to garden with.

I've fallen in love with Kim Boekbinder's voice. Listen to her first EP for free here.

Knock Knock have crazy stationary and office products. They're definitely going on my Christmas list this year.

My new favourite eye candy blog is Things Organized Neatly.

LaVonne Ellis had a funny chat with her writer's block.

Lovely short video by Tanya Davis & Andrea Dorfman - How To Be Alone

Finally, check out this superb 10 min video from Scott Belsky about bringing creative projects to fruition.


OK, that should ensure you don't get a lick of work done this fine Friday!



As usual, comments are hugely welcome.


“Art is beautiful but it is hard, like a religion without a purpose.”
Gunter Brus

Close up photograph of artist Kirsty Hall performing Pin Ritual 01
Kirsty Hall: Performing Pin Ritual, Dec 2003

People who aren’t working in a creative profession often think that what we do is easy, fun, glamorous or exciting. And it can be all of those things. But it’s also a time-consuming, brain-melting obsession that will eat your life.

It is not ‘five minutes, boom, you’re done, sit back and drink a martini’ - that is not how the creative process goes for even the most talented people. Techniques take time to learn and perfect. You make mistakes. Then you make bigger mistakes and have to start over. Even once you’ve learnt your craft, it’s twisty: you fret, you fiddle and things go wrong. You can pick away at a problem for months or years with no guarantee that you’ll ever crack it.

Sure, some people make it look easy but I’d bet my granny’s pension that they’re working hard when your back is turned. They’re dreaming their way into a role; they’re thinking about their sculpture on their lunch break; they’re drawing for hours every day.

So you need to enjoy the process of what you do. Because that’s what you’re going to be doing all day.

Photograph by Kirsty Hall of red thread and needle
Kirsty Hall: Red thread and needle, May 2008

If you plan to make hats for a living, you’d better love plittering around with felt and feathers. If you’re going to carve wood, you’d better not be allergic to sawdust. If you want to act, you’d better be able to put up with hanging out with other actors, learning lines and spending lots of time waiting around.

Now, obviously no one loves every single thing about their job but if you dislike most of your process, then you’re in the wrong creative field or are using the wrong medium.

I know this sounds stupid but I see a lot of young artists making this mistake. They’re naturally great at video but instead try to make sculptures because they feel they ‘should’. Or they have a talent for colour but feel guilty that it’s ‘too easy’, so they chose to work in monochrome even through they secretly long to pick up that tube of orange.

If you call yourself an artist but find yourself making excuses to write instead of making art, you might really be a writer. If you find oils endlessly frustrating but make watercolours for fun on your days off, you may be using the wrong kind of paint. If you hate having clay under your fingernails, making pots is not for you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t challenge yourself by exploring new areas. Nor am I saying that everything needs to be easy – it won’t be. I’m saying that you absolutely must have a deep and abiding love for the actual processes of your craft. You need to be able to think, “Oh wow, sewing sequins on this apron is still kind of great, even through I’ve been doing it for a year & I’m kind of bored now”.

Photograph of cream sequins by Kirsty Hall
Kirsty Hall: Close up of sequins, Oct 2009

Because a lot of the time you will be frustrated, stuck or thoroughly fed up and in my experience, if you don’t have that core passion for your daily reality, then you will quit.


Sorry for the radio silence - those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I was busy making and installing a brand new piece for an exhibition last week. Then I had to stay in my pyjamas for four days because exhibitions turn me into a zombie artist. Braaaaiiinnnnns (ahh, I feel better after that).

'52 drawings' in progress
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

'52' was a group show curated by Camilla Stacey and Claire Platt, who work together under the moniker, Calm Air All Ice. Instead of just putting on a show of their own work, they decided it would be far easier to invite 50 of their favourite artists to show with them in Room212. Did I mention that Rooom212 is the smallest gallery in Bristol.

And in my infinite wisdom, I decided five days before the show to do 52 little drawings, coat them in wax so they could be seen from both sides, tie them all together with bits of thread and then suspend them in the window. Instead of doing something utterly crazy and unthinkable like just framing a couple of pieces that might possibly sell!

I'm blaming Camilla for this madness because she foolishly mentioned in passing that she was hoping I'd do a sculptural window piece.

Also, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

These things often do.

The drawings fell somewhere between realism and abstraction...
'52 drawings' in progress
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

...and referred to maps, diagrams, aerial photography, archaeology and suchlike things.
'52 drawings' in progress
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

For inspiration I looked at two of my favourite books, The Landscape Of Man by Geoffrey Jellicoe and Susan Jellicoe and Anno's Journey by Mitsumasa Anno.

I'm very into torn edges at the moment...
'52 drawings' in progress
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

...and I find it freeing to draw on non-rectangular pieces of paper.
'52 drawings' in progress
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

The drawings were easy - tying them together and getting them to hang properly was the tricky bit!
'52 drawings'
Kirsty Hall: '52 Drawings For Claire & Camilla', March 2010

Although I got the work up on time, I was quite mind-bogglingly disorganised about this show. I didn't do a mail-out for it and I didn't go back and get better photos because I collapsed with exhaustion afterwards. I'm feeling quite cross with myself about those two things. I'm trying to work out how I can do better in the future because if I'm being truthful, documentation and mail-outs are always a bit of a problem for me. I need better systems. Or a minion.

I did enjoy making the piece though. Even though it was a bit last minute, it was fun to have a break from the sequin apron (which is still trundling along like some relentless World War One tank) and I enjoyed actually completing a piece in less than a week. I'm still too close to it to know if it was any good or not but hey, I liked it.

The rest of the show was lovely - Claire and Camilla did a stunning job of hanging a huge number of pieces and there was a lot of good quality work. You can read a good review of the show here and there's also a series of mini-interviews with most of the artists over at the Calm Air All Ice blog. I bought a small piece by Cathy Cullis and would happily have bought works by several other artists if I'd had the money.


Hooray, I've finally finished the second report from last month's Front Room art trail. It would have been done sooner but I've been down with The Never-Ending Virus Of Doom.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009

As well as doing the Red Thread performance piece, I decided to listen to the voices of reason (aka Dave Devereux and Cat Vincent) and NOT make another sculptural piece at such short notice. Instead, I installed 3 Score & 10, an existing sculpture which was completed in 2005 but which had only been shown twice before.

It was a wise choice. Not only was it a lot less stress but it looked stunning in the space. It was also hugely popular with visitors - sitting at the top of the stairs, I would often hear people exclaiming in wonder as they came up the staircase.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009

3 Score & 10 is part of an ongoing series of work exploring the meaning and measurement of time. It comprises 70 long pieces of string, each containing 365 hand-tied knots. The knots represent the number of days (including leap days) that you would experience if you lived to your biblically allotted 70 years. It contains 25,568 knots and took just under two years to complete.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009

This piece is different every time it's installed. The first time, it fell neatly to the floor. The second time, it was shown in a tangle. And this third time, people were able to actually walk through the piece, which was very successful as it gave them a different visual experience from every angle.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009

I was fortunate enough to have many intense conversations with visitors about the meaning of time. One thing I noticed was that the majority were fascinated by how long the piece had taken to make and the fact that I'd done all the knotting myself. It confirmed my recent realisation that there is an intangible value in making these sort of pieces myself, even though it's undoubtedly slow and inefficient.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009

One conversation that really moved me was with a model ship builder who was initially rather sceptical about my work until he suddenly connected it with the intricacy, repetition and length of time it took him to make his models, at which point he completely switched around and 'got' what I was doing. It's these sort of moments that make showing art so worthwhile for me. I just love the generous way people open up to me and share their thoughts and ideas about what my work is about - it's a huge privilege.

3 Score & 10
Kirsty Hall: 3 Score & 10, 2005, as shown at Front Room, Nov 2009


Here's the first of two reports on the work I showed at the Front Room art trail in November.


The statement I wrote for this piece:
Red Thread
Red thread, white dress, gag, chair, table, plasters, scissors, pincushion, needles.

Red Thread is a brand new piece being performed for the first time at Front Room.

This piece is so new that even I’m not entirely sure what it’s about but part of the inspiration came from Snow White:

"Oh, how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony".

Red thread has great magical significance in many cultures and is often used to make talismans or protective embroidery on clothes. It is usually associated with luck, protection or fertility. There is a particularly beautiful Chinese myth that an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet - in that case, the entire world must be completely criss-crossed with invisible red lines.


I don't usually like photos of myself but I like the intensity of this one.
Red Thread 02
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009

Wow, I really should have ironed that sheet! But I put it up at the last minute to hide a corridor and didn't have access to an iron - it's always these little things that catch you out. Apart from that, my preparation for this show was very good.
Red Thread 07
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009

Cutting the knotted thread - many visitors noticed that both my pieces contained knots.
Red Thread 05
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009

I enjoyed the way the thread spread over me like a virus. Someone said it reminded them of mushroom spores.
Red Thread 10
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009

Doing the arms was tricky - I had to use my teeth to tie the knots.
Red Thread 08
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009

The little stool that I completely covered in medical plasters - a process that amused my Twitter followers for several days.
Plaster Table 02

Sigh, I love my cute little bird scissors.
Kirsty Hall: Red Thread performance, Nov 2009


Overall this performance went well, although I discovered fairly quickly that being gagged didn't work because people on art trails really want to talk to the artists and I needed to be available for that. So I abandoned that part for the duration. That's one of the joyous things about performances, you can react instantly to things; it's scary yet freeing. If I ever get the chance to repeat this piece in a more formal setting, I think the gag could still work.

I also managed to persuade a few people to join me in sewing. Even without the gag they were quite reluctant, possibly partly because of fears of blocking a narrow space but also, I think, because it's a strangely intimate act.


Back of apron 02
Kirsty Hall: Back of Sequin Apron, Oct 2009

I've been working steadily on my sequin apron and it's coming along; I'm trying to do at least an hour on it every single day and progress is being made but it's just very s-l-o-w. I'm currently on the outside of the pocket and should get that finished this week.

A few weeks ago I completed the inside of the pocket - a masochistic pursuit as it was awkward to sew and seemed to take forever but it was SO worth it.

Apron Pocket 02
Kirsty Hall: Inside of Apron Pocket, Oct 2009

Apron Pocket 01
Kirsty Hall: Inside of Apron Pocket, Oct 2009

I find myself quite fascinated by the patterns the sequins make when they're piled up in my little glass bowl. I especially like it when they form clumps. There may be a piece of work in this at some point.

Sequins 02
Kirsty Hall: Sequins, Oct 2009

Oh, and I made a short video about the sequins. Naturally, it also features the chickens; I swear, these chickens are going to end up more famous than me (which admittedly, wouldn't be hard!)


So, I reckon it's time to show you what I've been working on for the last couple of months. I'd have blogged about this sooner but it's an absolute pain to photograph and I had to do four or five different photo shoots before I got anything I could bear to publish.

Meet my sequin apron!

Sequin Apron 07
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, July 2009

Yep, in my infinite wisdom, I am covering the whole of this apron in sequins.

It's part of a triptych of apron pieces about motherhood. I've had the three aprons for several years but it took me a while to decide exactly what to do with them. This one represents the 'yummy mummy' aspect of motherhood; all the good, precious and wonderful parts. The other two aprons will be much more conflicted and darker in tone.

Sequin Apron 09
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, June 2009

The back of the apron: I'm being very good and sewing in all my ends as I go along.

Sequin Apron 06
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, July 2009

This piece had a bit of a rocky start. In February I bought samples of different kinds in creams, white and translucent sequins and after some thought, I decided on the ones on the left.

Sequin Apron 01
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, June 2009

Unfortunately, when I'd used up the small test amount I'd bought, I discovered to my horror that the shop where I'd bought them had replaced them with a very similar but slightly brighter version that Just Didn't Work. I then spent about two months trying to find the correct ones before finding the cream ones on the right and deciding to completely start over with them. As you can probably imagine, I bought lots of this replacement colour choice!

Sequin Apron 02
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, June 2009

It was annoying at the time - especially since I had to unpick that large section on the left - but I think the cream ones are a better fit for the piece. They're a closer match to the colour of the apron whilst still being iridescent from certain angles, which is what I'd originally been aiming for. I wanted a subtle hint of bling but nothing too over the top.

Sequin Apron 08
Kirsty Hall, Sequin Apron, July 2009

Now that I've got over that bump, the apron is coming on well although it's a slow piece to make. I've been working on it for at least an hour most days for the last six weeks but I'm expecting it to take me at least another two months. A couple of days ago, I was feeling very pleased with myself for filling in an area of about 6 square inches over a period of three hours. Then I hung it up, held it out and realised just how much there was still to go and I just started laughing hysterically at how utterly mad I am.


I was reading this post about titles over at The Painter's Keys.

Here's the original question:

"What are your thoughts on changing the names of artwork to fit a venue, exhibit, or buyer? For example, is it okay to modify my often generic titles to more specific places, particularly when sending things off to shows? Is this wrong or deceitful? And, if changed, should new titles stay that way?"

In my opinion, if you need to change the title, then you just didn't get it right in the first place!

Of course, this doesn't apply to 'working titles', which are merely placeholders until you have a proper title but I think that there is a point at which the title is set in stone. For a book, this is when it goes to the printers or when the advance publicity goes out. For a work of art, it's usually when the work is exhibited.

There are exceptions, of course. If you're constantly remaking a piece in different places, then altering the title for each remake can be an appropriate way to differentiate them. Antony Gormley does this with his well known piece, The Field but they all still contain the word 'field' in the title. Repeatedly changing a title could conceivably also be an important conceptual part of a work - for example, if your actual subject matter is the way that perceptions of the art change depending on how the work is 'framed' by the title. But I see a big difference between both these examples and changing the title just to suit other people or to try and score a sale.

I know that titles aren't important to all artists but for me, they're a vital part of the work. I don't consider a piece properly finished until it has a title and I think about them a lot. I keep lists of possible words or phrases in my sketchbooks and often find scraps of paper scattered randomly around the house with prospective titles written on them.

The only time I've ever changed a title is when the title I've given it didn't 'stick' for some reason.

For example, this piece was originally called Do More With Less. The whole piece was my sarcastic riposte to my college tutor telling me to 'do more with less' - because naturally, when accused of 'gilding the lily' my response was to do exactly that!

gilded lily 01
Kirsty Hall: Gilded Lilies, 2001

But the original title was clunky and I could never remember exactly how it went, so it was discarded in favour of the more prosaic Gilded Lilies. And in retrospect, I can see that the more fanciful title was, er... gilding the lily.

gilded lily 02
Kirsty Hall: Gilded Lilies, 2001

I've also accidentally named things twice when I've forgotten that I'd already titled a work. When this happens, it's obvious to me that the original title wasn't quite right or I would have remembered it. When I name my work, I'm trying to find a title that so precisely and elegantly captures the essence of the piece that a name change would be utterly inconceivable.

I try never to change a name once the piece has been formally exhibited (although I couldn't swear that this has never happened). Changing a title in order to make the work more palatable (something I've been asked to do only once) or simply in order to try and sell the work, makes me very uncomfortable. Certainly, I think that changing titles multiple times simply in order to suit the audience, venue or exhibition is confusing and dubious: the work needs to have integrity.

So what do you think? Is titling important to you? Would you re-title a work in order to sell it?


Pins In Cotton Reel
Kirsty Hall: Pins In Cotton Reel, May 2009

Yesterday was a glorious sunny day, so I made the most of it by taking one of my current projects out to the garden. Soaking up some fresh air and Vitamin D whilst making art, what could be better?

I've done a huge amount of work on the garden this year and it's really paying off: it's a lovely place to sit and work now.

The view to the left of the bench:
The view from the bench
Kirsty Hall: Looking Across The Lawn To The Air Garden, May 2009

The view to the right of the bench:
The Shrubbery
Kirsty Hall: The Shubbery, May 2009

I needed to turn the hem on a piece of linen so it can be hung from a wooden pole but it already had a thick seam and wouldn't fit in my sewing machine, so I decided to hand sew it.

Work In Progress
Kirsty Hall: Work In Progress, May 2009

Sitting in the sunshine listening to the sounds of birds, bees and children while I pulled my needle through soft, white linen, I experienced a profoundly productive peace even when my thread tied itself into subtle knots.

Plying My Needle

I've always said that I hate sewing and only do it when it's necessary for art purposes but yesterday, I finally reached an understanding with it and I suddenly felt that I could actually come to like sewing. It was a deeply satisfying experience.

The all-important cup of tea, without which no art would ever get made!
Tea & Thread