‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’ an exhibition by C.A. Halpin at the internationally renowned V&A Museum of Childhood, London.
In this the second of a two-part series of exhibitions that addresses the subject of children as political and social beings on both the domestic and global stage. The first part was held at the Angus-Hughes Gallery in London in July/August of this year to much critical acclaim, and was recognised as an important event, both professionally and within a wider social context.
In the current political climate this series is a potent social commentary of the position of children and the burdens and responsibilities that they carry in a hostile adult world where they hold little or no power.
Drawings featured in the exhibition:
Girl Carrying Water, Graphite on Paper 2013
Throughout the world girls often trek long distances to fetch water for their families, who live without drinking water or sanitation. This heavy burden that girls carry as main water suppliers takes a long time and often means that girls do not have much time for regular education.
Lance Carries Miles, Graphite on Paper 2015
Lance aged 10 and Miles, 7 are brothers who live in East London. Lance carries his brother, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is unable to walk. The drawing portrays them still similar in size emphasising the care, delicacy and strength that even the very young feel towards a sibling in need.
Y = YELLOW, Graphite on Paper 2015
Himandri is 6 years old she lives in Oriya Basti Colony, Bhopal, close to a chemical factory that in 1984 suffered a massive gas leak, which left thousands dead and its survivors with permanently disabling injuries. She is portrayed with her blackboard emblazoned with Y=Yellow a colour that can symbolize self-esteem, confidence power and ambition.
Philippines Pieta, Graphite on Paper 2013
This image shows a boy carrying a toddler in the aftermath of the terrible monsoon that struck the Philippines in 2012 and which in turn led to the destruction of thousands of homes and the displacement of its people. The boy looks directly at the viewer as he rescues this very distressed child, exuding a knowledge and maturity in a time of crisis.
The Little Things, Graphite on Paper 2015
Georgie and Elvis are children that are very close in age and who very early on in life had to grow up without their mother. They have always shown great love and support to each other and moreover to their father. They are pictured chatting in their bunk beds with a giant Elvis looking down on his tiny older sister.
The Ballad of Ricky O’Rourke, Graphite on Paper 2012
Part one of a triptych that charts the life of Ricky O’Rourke a young runaway who ended up living and dying on the streets of London. He is portrayed as a toddler like any other, with a name, a family and a future. The words that form part of the image are from a letter sent to the artist by Ricky’s parents following his death.
BLACK EYED SUSAN an Exhibition of Paintings
Arts Club East, 64 Shoreditch High St. E1 6JJ
Non members must view by appointment.
Contact: C.A. Halpin
BLACK EYED SUSAN opens 22nd October at Shoreditch’s newest members club Arts Club East. This intimate, yet traditional Truman Brewery designed function room above a pub, plays host to all art forms from music and dance to poetry, film and art exhibitions. BLACK EYED SUSAN is the second in their rolling programme of month long shows by the club’s members and invited artists. I have been invited for their second show and have chosen the smaller pieces in the series.
The series of 13 paintings dates from 2009-2012 that were last shown in 2012. The work continues Halpin’s long established way of working that explores the concept of portraiture through found words, images and notes.
BLACK EYED SUSAN was originally intended as a collaborative venture with then partner, artists and musician Mat Ducasse. This particular series uses personal letters, intimate and erotic drawings, notes and images made by the pair.
BES Do Not Believe Them 2012 Acrylic inks and pens on canvas is an square field of intense colours whose comet like tails streak toward a green filled void. Pock marked planets with their phosphorescent stars are drawn in faster and faster as they rush to the centre of a black hole of emotion. The original painting was begun in 2009 by Ducasse that began as a image of splashes and brush strokes at the centre of which was a green eye that seemed to question Ducasse’s trust in forces beyond his control, both on a personal and a global stage. By the time Halpin took up the painting later that year she felt the clue to its revival was to animate the canvas to give it a dynamic sense of timing and energy this was to become the first BLACK EYED SUSAN painting that later went on to become of a larger series. Other paintings including BES #1 and BES #3 were begun by both and worked on together in the early stages in 2009 and later finished in 2010 by Halpin, when the rest of the series was begun. The entire series was worked on by Halpin at the same time, with paintings being picked up, worked on and ideas left to brew as another canvas was started put down to be picked up and reworked. with the 13 paintings being completed at once in 2012
The works chart the history of a relationship from the passion and pleasure at the beginning, the storytelling, the messing describing the passion and tensions as tales were told and taboos broken, through to the intensity, anger and loss at the end of the affair. The written messages and images contained within the paintings are layered over and turned around until they become abstracted, distorted and almost impossible to read, yet giving the viewer an idea that they can be deciphered.
The majority of the paintings, were begun in unison, were worked on and were made by turning the canvas as the painting progressed until the images have no top or bottom, left or right with the viewer guided through this cathartic tale only by the forms that emerge and disappear in the fashion in which they painted.
The paintings and their original drawings owe a lot to the sounds that were incorporated in the concrete poetry written on scraps, scrawled with intentions accompanied by it home made musical score. The images were made as static animations that would be digitally animated from one to the next with BES Do Not Believe Them at the beginning and the end of the loop. This stage of the project has yet to be realized.
C.A.Halpin and Mat Ducasse continue to collaborate on projects currently as part of The Outside World All Stars, including It’s A Hard World For Little Things #2 multimedia exhibition, to be held at the V&A Museum of Childhood in 2016.
Original paintings and prints of the works are available from the artist.
‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’ comprises two multimedia exhibitions, by C.A. Halpin.
Exhibition One was at The Angus-Hughes Gallery from 3rd July to 2nd August 2015.
Exhibition Two will be at The V&A Museum of Childhood from 9th January to 17th July 2016.
The exhibitions that incorporate large scale drawings, sculpture, sound, performance and projection, are a positive portrayal of children carrying anything, from secrets to physical, psychological or societal loads. The portraits address both the domestic and the global politics of children and their responsibilities and how they deal with these every day.
The concept is inspired by the 1955 film ‘The Night of the Hunter’, a story of good and evil, seen through the eyes of two runaway orphaned children. While Halpin’s graphic works echo the film in style and tone, they lack any sentimentality in acknowledging young people’s strength and fortitude as they deal with life’s challenges. Halpin’s monumental graphite drawings render the ordinariness of their burdens iconic and cinematic, elevating mundane struggles to mythical storytelling. The themes that run throughout the shows are further explored in a soundscape with Charles Laughton’s abridged re reading of the book by Davis Grubb, to be accompanied by a choreographed performance and a projection of the original film.
The show highlights Halpin’s typically collaborative approach, with an ever-changing group of artists, musicians and performers, here named ‘The Outside World All Stars’, including composer Mat Ducasse, voice artist Fenella Fudge, Royal Ballet dancer and choreographer Vanessa Fenton and projections from Rucksack Cinema. There is also input from typographers Pixel Press and photographers including Alixandra Fazzina and Claire Lawrie, while The Bhopal Medical Appeal charity have allowed access to their photographic archives as reference.
‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’ is arranged across two multimedia exhibitions, with Halpin presenting a number of large-scale graphite drawings, which articulate the pressures and strains on young children, carrying the burden of the adult world’s expectations and hopes on their shoulders. Driven by their primal instincts of survival and preternatural resilience, the young subjects of her drawings demonstrate an innate humanity and kindness. But the dryness of Halpin’s eye and her firm, bold lines avoid cloying sentimentality. Rather, her work as ever, brings forth a remarkable alliance of technical mastery and poignant, apposite subject matter to reflect upon a universal human condition.
Arsalan Mohammad, Editor, Harper’s Bazaar Art
C.A. Halpin is a Londoner who lives and works firmly in the East End, amongst the landmarks and people that created Britart, the most successful British art movement for generations. A startlingly talented draughtswoman, that unfashionable but impressive activity, she is absolutely not caught in the past, and works across many media in a playful and unpredictable manner. Her thinking is utterly contemporary – finding connections with witty ease. Her meticulous eye, accurate hand and tender heart will ensure that her work will achieve the prominence it deserves.
Guy Kennaway, Writer & Journalist
At first glance upon the drawings, we here filled with an instantaneous combination of intense pain and extreme pride. Pain for the loss of our beloved Ricky and pride at how wonderfully Cate had immortalised him.
Grainne O’Rourke, Oldest sister of Ricky O’Rourke the homeless subject of the drawings.
The exhibitions features The Outside World All Stars: