Whitney Jade Halsted
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Whitney-Jade Halsted is a practice-based researcher exploring the movement and behaviour of watercolour painting in relation to imperialist thinking and the intelligible other. A personal connection to wildlife and remote wilderness areas of Zimbabwe is the origin of inspiration for her.
Born in 1988, the complexities of Whitney-Jade’s experience growing up in Zimbabwe and the navigation of her life now living in London, probe contested histories of colonialism and mechanisms of power that have given rise to a creative explosion of meaningful artistic endeavours. In 2012, Whitney-Jade studied undergraduate Fine Art at Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town, South Africa.
She moved to London in 2017 and in 2019 received an MFA from The University of the Arts London, Wimbledon College of Art. Whitney-Jade continues to expand her research completing her MRes Art: theory and philosophy at Central St Martins, London, 2021.
Wilding Watercolour, as she likes to call it, is the creative response that challenge the affairs of the mind which are rooted in imperialist thinking. Personal feelings of loss and sadness resonate in her day-to-day and although they are important themes they lend themselves to the desire to move beyond, the latter being the main protagonist in this story. It is the artist’s perception that through the trial of sadness the awareness of an extraordinary-self, a self is not the self at all, is present. This presence instils with it the potential for the mundane self to transform.
Whitney-Jade has always been bewildered by Nature. She is inspired by the natural environment and wild animals she has encountered whilst living in Zimbabwe and on her walks around London parks. To her, this is where she finds connectivity to superior principles that exceeds both herself and her socio-political environment.
The presence of dead imagery seen in some of her paintings serve her work allegorically. There is a profound identification with the depicted deceased animals and the social weight that is associated to the female that signify a tension between masculine and feminine stereotypes. This tension expresses a desire to return to a (non)differentiated unity also creates a space that is othering.
The contrasting imagery of domestic, wild animals and pot plants, inanimate and animate are symbols of a controlled and restrained environment. However, the de-configuration of shapes and the de-construction of figures advocate a will to move beyond the fixed-forms implemented by human supremacy.
Intuition becomes the forefront of interest and is the potential cause resulting in movement which abstracts the figures and create its own organic shapes and pattern. The trace of this movement is seen in the paintings as the abstract forms that have been loosened from their former constructs.
Attention to this intuitive development changes the course of direction in the body of work and leads the artist to question the base substance of watercolour paint used to create the works — resulting in formations of balancing rocks painted onto the paper surface. Her interest now focuses on the vibratory influence of light and colour as the foundation of all material interpretation.