A conversation with Hayley Hamilton

Jacqui Smith sat down with artist Hayley Hamilton for a chat about art & an upcoming exhibition:

What changes did you make this year and what happened prior to prompt you ?

 So for many years my dear friend and business partner Karla Stevenson and I ran The Monster Company together – a ceramics business that supplies galleries throughout New Zealand. I had always painted and used to exhibit once a year, but slowly over time, the ceramics business took over and I painted less but never really stopped. A few years ago I had begun to produce a small range of limited edition prints. I could see that there was potential for me to make a living this way, but was happy where I was. Roll on to the first lockdown – I painted full time and had a realisation that I wanted to go back to the basics of exhibition work which, for me, is painting and  ceramic sculpture. It was a hard decision to leave the Monster Company as it meant not working with Karla everyday – its was a beautiful thing so to leave something that was pretty magical was very emotional . But I had to be true to my own creativity and in April this year I started on a new path. I’m painting full time and the goal is to show two exhibitions a year 

What is your focus now and how does it feel to have changed direction?

So my focus now is to be constantly improving my skills as a painter and to have the time to see an idea through to the end, especially with my ceramic work. It has been quite daunting at times. I have never felt so unsure as I did in the first few months; I lost confidence and direction for a while but I was reassured that I was having a threshold moment. I think I’m still standing on the threshold but hopefully will enter the hallway soon. Then I can open a couple doors. Maybe, if they are not locked! I still feel its going to be OK.

So what does your working day look like ?

Typically I paint most days. I have noticed that now I am working from a home studio and my children have left home my most constructive hours are afternoon and early evening. Weekends are no longer a definite break, it’s pretty fluid to be honest. My husband Craig was building but re-trained as a framer so we could make it a viable option to supply galleries. He also works from a home studio so it’s all in-house. Our studios are next to one another so it works pretty well.  Jane Galloway has been an amazing mentor to me and has helped to organise my Gemini brain into some pretty good systems now. Stuart Mackenzie and Jane do all of my printing through Palm Prints so everything is local, which is ideal .

How would you describe your work at this point?

Mm I’m still working that out. I do love the research behind the painting, the stories I want to tell. So I feel I am a visual storyteller, an illustrator and sometimes a painter. 

What usually inspires you when you create a body of work?

 Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. I don’t ever really seek it out as such. I always have a sketchbook and pencil close by and scribble ideas down; words, doodles, poems, even overheard conversations have been known to make it into my notes, but if I had to define my muse I would say curiosity. I am very inquisitive and oh I do love a good story 

Your use of words is exquisite. Have they always been incorporated in your work?

Ah that’s a lovely thing to say – thanks. I do love words; I’ve never really thought of that before but yes, they have always been a part of my work. 

 What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in a creative endeavour?

I feel just getting on and doing it is really important. It sounds so simple, but procrastination really is the thief of time. Don’t over think it 

Art is a business, for 95% of people making a living from their art they have had to learn some pretty hard lessons about what it takes to sell their work. Creating the work is very much just a part of being an artist. Not only listening to people that are successful but also those that are struggling – never stop asking questions. Striving to develop and improve constantly but not being too hard on yourself when things don’t go to plan – they never really do. Have a go, use different materials, don’t just do what you have always done. And for me I often feel disappointed with the end result of a piece and know immediately how I could have done it better, but now when I look back at older work it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I wish I could take my own advice on that one 

Where will you be showing for RAW  and do you have a website?

I have worked towards an exhibition throughout this winter and  have decided to incorporate It into the Raglan arts weekend so 

 “The Outsiders”  

A project in reassurance for those amongst us that do not fit in  will be at the Raglan Chronicle office, above Everyone’s Store on Wainui Rd


IG @ hayleyhamilton_create