3 October - 14 October
3 October – 14 October 2023
Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 7pm
Saturdays: 12pm – 4pm
..ranging from pop culture staples to totally obscure personal obsessions, here they’re forced to mingle in what might accurately be described as the cocktail mixer from hell…
James Hale // Artist Statement
Don’t Start is a selection of drawings made over the past six years.
These works have been steadily accumulating in my studio, filling bags, boxes, and suitcases. Numbering in the thousands and piled up in no particular order, this is the stuff of nightmares for conservators, but it suits me.
Looking back over old work, the earlier drawings are easy to spot. They are self-consciously “scrawled”, an affectation I thought was artful and one I sensibly gave up after a short time.
Other idiosyncrasies jump out. She/her pronouns for any and all persons described, and the use of one obscenity in particular. Both are a link to the antiquated gay slang language of Polari and more specifically to the foul-mouthed lesbian icon and Soho drinking club proprietress Muriel Belcher – whose name alone should qualify her for celebrity.
Throughout the drawings, heroes, villains, and victims are name checked or referenced obliquely. Ranging from pop culture staples to totally obscure personal obsessions, here they’re forced to mingle in what might accurately be described as the cocktail mixer from hell.
Different friendships have inspired different works. The stories and observations my friends share get the James Hale treatment, usually with enthusiastic approval.
Even more profound an influence on my work are eavesdropping and plagiarism. Bad habits that have served me in good stead.
Some works here I had forgotten existed. Others are embarrassingly bad. Others still were too cruel, disgusting, or libellous to be included in this exhibition.
It’s tempting to compare my work en masse to an avalanche or some other non-specific natural disaster. Perhaps an enormous din, a thousand voices talking at once, is more accurate.
This makes for, in my humble opinion, a perfect viewing experience.
James Hale is a text artist working in Melbourne. He makes colourful paintings and austere drawings in his Brunswick studio. His practice is rooted in the tradition of other queer text artists like Rene Ricard, David McDiarmid, Tracey Emin, and David Robilliard. He was the winner of the 2020 Fifty Squared Art Prize and was a finalist in the 2020 Paul Guest Drawing Prize, the 2021 Footscray Prize, the 2021 M16 Drawing Prize, and the 2022 Alice Prize.