More about my work
My work, both in an historic and contemporary context, has its basis in drawing.
At times it is preparatory to making larger and more complex works in a variety of media, it reaches for and researches the conceptual and the visceral aspects considered when making a work.
My medium is generally Graphite, paper, erasers and tape. I love the softness of using graphite and employ it in the same manner I would paint, pushing it around with an eraser, scraping out light, getting back to the rough surface of the paper, moulding and pushing in the blackest of blacks. I hardly ever use my hands to move the graphite around, in fact I try not to touch the paper at all when making a drawing. Instead I like to hover over the paper keeping a lightness in my hands that allows for speed and movement in the marks made. I wish for the drawings to be constantly moving, to retain some sort of living element an idea that the image will never be fixed, that you, the viewer, can never quite put you finger on it, your eyes searching for an outline that does not exist.
Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to have been taught by some incredibly talented artists such as Helen Chadwick, Peter Blake, Ron Kitaj, Eduardo Paolozzi, also by animators and film makers including Bob Godfrey and Andre Klimowski. I have also worked with some brilliant technicians who have enabled me to create both static and filmed work.
My love of the medium also embraces my work as a professional animator/director. I first worked in the industry in London in the late 1980’s where I learned traditional hand drawn animation skills, learning how to use timing in a work as well as drawing an object in movement. I had access to the knowledge from some of the world’s best animators, from Warner Bros. cartoonist Chuck Jones to influential British animators such as Mike Smith, Susan Young & Jonathon Hodgson. This early influence continues to the present day with the directing of my current performance piece that employs projected and animated sequences.
As well as my own practice, I have worked in many industries and am established in both London and Europe and have built up a diverse and important network of clients, collaborators and connections.
Working and Living in Europe
I have lived and worked extensively in Europe, which has allowed me the opportunity to work in several cutting edge animation studios creating hand-drawn films, sharing space and ideas with the likes of Raymond Briggs and my former co-director Dirk Van de Vondel. We worked together and as individuals, creating commercials and station idents for companies such as Kellogs, ELF and Canal+.
In 1993 my animated films won a National Museums prize for four pieces that I directed, designed and animated for the Jeu de Paume at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Additionally, in France I worked on a short film series entitled SIDA, a ground breaking AIDS awareness series, animating the drawings of renowned French cartoonists including the legendary Sergeui. I also made one in a series of films commissioned by the Musee D’Orsay based on the works of Toulouse Lautrec.
Whilst in France I completed a residency at La Musee des Sables D’Olonnes in Brittany, the hometown of Gaston Chaissac, renowned Art brut artist and major influence on Dubuffet. This began my passion for Art Brut and which led to my collecting, supporting and exhibiting Outsider Artists and eventually establishing “The Outside World”.
“The Outside World”
The original incarnation of The Outside World was in 1995/6 when I was living in Shoreditch, which was at the time the home of the newly sensational YBA movement. This was a time of vibrancy with the excitement of the new and the happening as artists moved to this run down area of London’s East End.
‘This establishment becomes a crucial social focal point for the artists, musicians, writers, beatniks and oddballs of what at this time was a true, thriving bohemia. Indeed, her inclusive open–door attitude to her life, becomes not only a springboard for this unique moment in British Art culture but feeds in interesting ways into her restlessly creative life’. Mat Ducasse C.A.HALPIN ’Inside The Outside World’ 2010
Here in my living/studio/gallery space I established and curated a program of exhibitions by myself and invited ‘Outsider’ artists and this experience has had a fundamental influence on my current practice.
Throughout this time I was visited in my studio by my contemporaries and the local YBA community that included artists such as Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Mat Collishaw, Phillipe Bradshaw, Gary Hume, Gregor Muir, Paul Fryer, Keith Coventry, Rachel Whiteread, Noble & Webster and gallerists Jay Joplin and Detmar Blow.
In more recent years I have worked with and exhibited a very wide range of artists including American Punk photographer Leee Black Childers, and held group shows involving Polly Morgan and Gavin Turk as well as emerging artists such as Tinsel Edwards and Michele Howarth Rashman.
This spirit of inclusivity, altruism, and of supporting other artists remains important to me to this day, as I continue to work with and invite artistic collaborations with a core team including Julieta Hernandez Adame, Julia Riddiough, David Vassie, Craig Hunt and long time collaborator Mat Ducasse, all of whom make up the ever expanding “The Outside World All Stars”, and now I am excited to count Vanessa Fenton amongst them.
My collaboration with these artists and others is intended to translate my passion for drawing into multi-faceted works with sound & movement, as visual interventions in time and space, allowing new work to be created that explores a common theme. I have also begun researching working with artists such as Victoria JE Jones creating evocative smells to add a further dimension to the work.
“The Invisible Woman”
I also work under the pseudonym “The Invisible Woman” creating digital collages using the device of my eyes onto found images of unsung heroines and heroes both contemporary and historical. Currently The Invisible Woman is in a frieze format, a device that I have employed in several exhibitions as 6 x 4” identical sized images. These complicated pieces consist of anything between 300-500 individual images and are able to be deconstructed and reworked for each individual space. This interactive work has recently been shown at Hantverk & Found Gallery in Margate and I am in the planning to take this to other venues and spaces.
I have a meeting in Liverpool in October with Professor Colin Fallows of Liverpool University to discuss future possibilities for the show to tour regional galleries.
“The Incredible Shrinking Man”
This is a new series of digital collages again using the same device of the eyes and the 6 x4” format. This series is aimed a pricking the inflated egos of the pompous and celebrating the underdog in society. This series, like The Invisible Woman, takes a wry look at a serious social and political subject of how we treat and respect others in society. This too will be an interactive series where members of the public get to try on the eyes behind The Incredible Shrinking Man.
My personal and professional relationship with Drawing
Drawing as a craft is a paramount component of my professional side projects, an on going series of commissioned portraits as “The PencilVainia Project.” This ongoing graphic projects exploit my skills as a draughtswoman and introduces a new audience to buying art. Although commissioned drawings may be seen in a slightly negative way in some quarters I make these technically expert portraits, using the same technique and passion that is found in the rest of my work. They are made deliberately affordable, with a size and pricing structure that allows buyers to own an original piece of art, whilst removing any traces of the exclusivity of owning art by what is generally perceived as the ‘Art Market’.
My photographic work is exhibited and is circulated globally in online magazines and publications and I actively exploit social media sites such as Twitter, facebook and Instagram as a platform. CAN TS PELLE: is a frieze of over 500 photographs using the same format as The Invisible Woman series, was exhibited at A Brookes Art 2012. I also created a smaller frieze for the brain injuries charity Headway East. This was curated and displayed by the regular visitors to the centre as an aide memoir for some people who have little or no short-term memory. The interesting thing with piece was that the frieze had been adapted added to by the members themselves.
These images celebrate the overlooked, the left behind, the lost and lonely articles dropped or abandoned. We are shown vignettes, where the protagonists have left the scene but appear in their detritus. The CAN TS PELLE series of photographs demonstrates the breadth and openness of her approach to accident, incident, the internal and external worlds and their strange multifarious relationship. This aspect comes to the foreground in the intriguing way language, found objects and the written word become over time more incorporated into the body of work. In other pieces, discarded scraps of human marks – shopping lists, drunken love letters, angry mis-spelt rants emerge, selected by the artist’s gimlet eye on her urban wanderings, from the lost detritus of the city. These orphaned texts are nurtured back into a poignant, often moving new existence, reborn into the artist’s sensual world.
My work is in the collections of The Pompidou Centre, La Musee D’Orsay, La Musee des Sables D’ Olonnes all in France. There is early work in the University of Sussex, formerly Brighton Polytechnic. Artists Mat Collishaw, Jake Chapman, Justin Westover, Polly Morgan and writer Guy Kennaway all have pieces of my work, as do other private collectors around the world.
The preparation for this exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood is as important and exciting for me for as the experience of showing the work, it will also give me an opportunity to take this concept to an entirely new audience of all ages who do not necessarily get to experience up close, contemporary drawing in its many forms.
In this project, I see my drawing as a potent and vital commentary on the current massive political and social shift affecting the lives of children and adults throughout the world today.
This is a culturally important time in London and Britain as a whole, and I continue to create, exhibit, work and socialise with inspirational and feted artists, yet at the same time I remain somewhat separated from it, working on my solo projects, collaborative events and constantly reinventing The Outside World.
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
‘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 marks 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
The Outside World Unit 3 14-18 Shore Road E9 7TA
Tel: 07814 430 852
I have practiced as an artist since 1983: I have worked in a broad spectrum in 2D, 3D, moving image & performance and have exhibited widely I have lived and worked as an artist/animation director in London, Barcelona, Madrid and Paris. I have experience as a teacher working with children and adults in both the private and the public sector. I ran The Outside World Gallery from 1996-2012 a small independent artist led space. I have also completed Artist Residencies in England, Spain and France.
1987-89 Royal College of Art, London
1981-83 Brighton Polytechnic,
C.N.A.A. Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Printmaking
1978-81 Brighton Polytechnic,
B.A.Hons. Expressive Arts 2:1
1977-78 Liverpool Polytechnic
Arts Foundation Course
1996 – 2012
The Outside World is the identity of my artistic practice incorporating my working studio. Previously the name was synonymous with the gallery holding exhibitions and performance as well as a teaching practice. The Outside World the overall platform for my work and the events by the artist C.A.Halpin.
C.A.Halpin: Recent Exhibitions & Events
2015 ‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’. Angus-Hughes Gallery, London.
2015 The Invisible Woman, Hantverk Found Gallery, Margate, Kent
2015 Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, London & Margate
2014 UpstART Gallery, Putney, London
2014 Sunless, The Bermondsey Project Space, London
2013 Jog On, Photographic Installation, Headway, East London
2013 I DRAW DOGS FOR MONEY, Drawing commissions.
2012 Mindsurfing, Seymour Magazine, Paris
2012 CAN TS PELLE, A BROOKS ART London
2012 BLACK EYED SUSAN, [email protected], London
Books and Publications:
2015 Seymour Magazine, Paris The ‘I’s Have It
2014 The Sabotage Times.
2011 Lost in Translation, by Chris Short
2010 SHIT LONDON by Patrick Dalton
2016 ‘It’s A Hard World For Little Things’ #2. V&A Museum of Childhood London.
Teaching Experience: Visiting Drawing Tutor
2015-Present Kumiko Community Arts Project Bristol
2005-12 Queen’s Park Community School, London
2009-11 Wassily Kandinsky School Of Art London
I read and speak French & Spanish
Polly Morgan: Artist. [email protected]
Kate de Syllas: Gallery Director, [email protected]