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Penny Hallas - Statement
In 1984 I trained as an art-therapist, and have since combined part time work in the NHS with pursuing my own creative work. Although these activities are very different, there are points at which they feed into one another and much of my personal work echoes my therapeutic concerns: a fascination with internal states of being and the promptings of fantasy and dreams.
For instance, those paintings with motifs of disjoined body-parts are not intended to be merely gruesome or macabre. The tragi-comedy which the body parts enact represents for me something true about the human psyche, its fractured, splintered, assailed and hampered nature. This state entails anguish, but also joy, desire, fun, movement, potentiality, since a state of wholeness would be a static state, inhuman. The way I see it, the body parts are in motion, seeking each other, or avoiding each other; puzzling out their relation to each other and to the things of the world. Yearning, perhaps, for connection, for the restoration of a mythical wholeness, or perhaps simply wanting to be left in peace.
The head is perhaps the most regularly recurring motif in my work. It is, for me, the ultimate human sign, at once obvious and graspable and the focus for a process of transformations. What else could represent so clearly the idea of spirit, mind, soul, whilst remaining so incorrigibly and bafflingly a material object.