Jack Haslam is a young London-based artist whose tender and genuine works reflect the themes of ‘friendship, loyalty and control’, especially in his artistic treatment of wildlife.
Readers may have seen Jack's work in previous exhibitions at Mall Galleries in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award. He now has six works, predominantly portraits of animals, on Mall Galleries’ online gallery, Buy Art Buy Now.
Jack, why have you chosen these particular works to feature on Buy Art Buy Now, and how do you feel about being one of our Buy Art Buy Now artists?
I was delighted when I was invited to show my work on the Mall Galleries Buy Art Buy Now site. It is a wonderful opportunity as I have been exhibiting in various exhibitions at the gallery for several years. As a self-taught artist with Asperger's syndrome I feel privileged to participate. The Mall first showed my work as part of the BITE printmakers show in 2012 and many shows ever since. I chose these particular images for the online gallery as they are my favorites and show a variety of printmaking techniques, etchings, mono prints and silk screen prints.
Regarding media, you create pieces using many different materials and techniques, such as monoprinting, screenprinting, etching and embroidery. What is your favourite at present and why?
The main reason I have experimented with different media is mainly practical. If I am having trouble with my OCD with one medium I will move on to another so that I can keep working. I have had phases of casting, making dolls, models and painting and photography. But my favorite way of working is drawing and making prints. I love it when you peel back the print to show the new image. I now have a large etching press at home.
You have stated that your work is about 'rituals which make you feel happy and safe'. Is this ritualistic process linked to your creative inspiration? How do you go about creating work?
Drawing for me is like turning on a tap. There is no self reflection, ego or pretence about it. I sit at an old bureau to work, everything has to be just so: paper, pencils the right rubber etc. Then I will start by just drawing a few lines. When these are to my satisfaction I will proceed with the drawing using purposeful lines, sometimes without taking my hand off the paper. I work from photographs and life. I was once lucky enough to meet a pair of my favourite animals, anteaters, in their compound in London zoo. It was feeding time the keeper let me into the cage to get up close. I prefer to look at animals - I don’t like touching them in case it spoils it.
I love that you create portraits (as opposed to pictures) of animals, and my personal favourite is your monoprint of a bear, which you have rendered with great affection. Is there a story behind it?
I have always loved bears, I used to watch all the documentaries on the National Geographic. I love the standing position that they adopt and the bear in my drawing appears to be waving. The monoprint came about after a time away from the etching studio. I did not have much equipment to hand so went for a monoprint, making a drawing with a second layer of ink to create the very dark effect I wanted. The outside shape or silhouette is quite important for me in my drawings. I create images of animals to help me relate to humans, so I would like my drawings to find homes with people who like them and see what I see when I look at their portraits.
Finally, what is next for you creatively and in terms of exhibiting your work?
I have worked with Shape Arts for a while. They have been very supportive in mentoring me and I have exhibited in the Shape Open for several years. It is through them I have received funding from the arts council to make a short film with my assistant, Ben Frederick. This is a completely different direction but something I have always wanted to do. I want to make a sci-fi, zombie / space themed film in the new year. Print-wise I am thinking of working on a larger scale...maybe screen printing using more colour and maybe even trying my hand casting in bronze. I am also planning a field trip to Panama this year to see and draw some anteaters in the wild.
Interview by Anna Preston
View Jack’s Mall Galleries artist profile and works here
View Jack’s website here