Through her figurative paintings, UK-based artist Julia Hall addresses multi-layered subjects and engages with social issues from representations of gender to the onslaught of news in our daily lives.
In her latest series, Common Thread, each work depicts a dress on a bare linen canvas rendered in oil paint and hand embroidery. The series is an exploration of the relationship between these "high" and "low" art forms and the re-discovery of historically invisible women; whilst the male and public art of oil painting has been celebrated, conserved and widely displayed across the centuries, sewing has been largely confined to a feminine, domestic sphere. Looking to her own family tree, Hall interrogates patriarchal lineage. She seeks to reclaim her female ancestors, of whom a piece of sewn art - a sampler, quilt or embroidered image - is sometimes the only remnant we have. Needlecraft, a skill passed from mother to daughter, forms an alternative matriarchal lineage threading its way down through the generations.
In 2018, the artist's series If Not Now saw her create a painting every week for a year that reflected the news stories of the time, from the rogue drone sightings that closed London's Gatwick Airport to Florida student Emma Gonzalez's impassioned speech at a gun control rally in the USA. Created in response to the frenetic media onslaught in contemporary society, the slow, rigorous layering of oil paint gives longevity to otherwise fleeting events. The works combine precise attention to detail in oil with outlines in charcoal.
Hall's approach to the figure celebrates the individuality of each of her subjects and her portraits range from tender representations of childhood to depictions of elderly friends visiting a museum. She captures unspectacular, unguarded snapshots of everyday life, preserving these moments in candid oil compositions.