Anna McNay

Portfolio: Roxana Halls


Portfolio: Roxana Halls

Growing up, Roxana Halls wanted to be an actor – until she
realised she was too shy. Luckily, at 16, she discovered painting. Theatre is
still a vital part of her art, however, as her studio is the saloon bar of an
old theatre, now bingo hall, in Streatham, and much of her work has theatrical
themes. Tingle-Tangle, an exhibition at the National Theatre in 2009, was a
celebration of all things cabaret, and recent commissions have been for
large-scale canvases telling the stories of Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard
of Oz.

All of her work has a feminist take and many pieces show
teetering towers of precariously stacked objects, a comment on the precarious
balancing act women must perform to uphold their facades in every day life. Her
recent exhibition, Appetite, at Hay Hill Gallery, was filled with paintings of women
eating, set on a sliding scale, with some scarcely daring to indulge and others
displaying a voracious appetite. “This has nothing to do with eating disorders
and body image,” Hall assures. “The food is a metaphor for life.”


Halls’ ideas come from all over and Carvery was inspired by Jack Monroe.
Representing many of the foods with which Halls grew up, in her working class,
east end family – savaloy, tinned spam, mushy peas and angel delight – it
argues that people can make it good, regardless of their income.

With glowing reviews by Brian Sewell, a studio to beat all
others, and commissions from the rich and famous, Halls has definitely proved
this to be true. Her one wish? “To paint Kate Bush. Now that would be perfect!”

Roxana Halls: Appetite

Hay Hill Gallery

25 August – 26 September 2014 

To see this portfolio in full, please buy the October issue of DIVA magazine