Designer Christian Hall is currently spending more time in his four-wheel drive than in his studio.
In preparation for a JamFactory exhibition in May responding to the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus, Hall is looking towards landscape and the notion of ‘place-based practice’. He has recently camped in the Flinders Ranges and on Yorke Peninsula as a way to explore a sense of time, evolution and biology.
Hall is looking to the ideas of Bauhaus professor László Moholy- Nagy, who drew from structures in biology to create design for human use. “Early 20th century design explored the marriage of ecology and science and how we connect to the materials around us,” Hall says.
The creation of new work sits alongside Hall’s PhD research into the resistance of materials and the insistence of place. He is taking time out from full-time design and making to explore ideas and concepts about the human relationship to art and design. Delving into the writings of contemporary philosopher Alva Noë, Hall reflects that “art is an experience that gives us insight into how we organise ourselves and how we are organised by objects. Art changes human activity and offers insight into what it is to be alive”.
This period of study is having a noticeable effect on an artist who has established a significant design career. Hall is moving away from working on computers and what he calls the “predictive technologies” to explore the wildness and messiness of materials. He continues to focus on metals but is drawn to the permanence, stillness and seductive qualities of rock. This new body of work will bring together horizontal forms of landscape and the vertical shape of plants, with early models and maquettes hinting at layers of geometric forms and shapes.
In stark contrast to forays into sand and desert, Hall is travelling to Shanghai in April 2019 for a Guildhouse Yiwei Art Foundation residency. He is fascinated by the craziness and contrasts of modern China and says he will use the residency to explore “geometric confabulation with light and shadow as a starting point for new work to leave in China and work to bring home”.
It’s a busy time for this South Australian artist who, after this time of creating and exhibiting new work, will undoubtedly take off with his dog and swag to a camping spot beneath the stars.
Guildhouse is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting South Australian visual artists, craftspeople and designers to develop and maintain sustainable careers.
The Adelaide Review is a media partner of Guildhouse.