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Rachel Hall is a charcoal still life portrait artist. She reconsiders preconceived notions of what a portrait is by creating portraits of people by using their inanimate possessions. The belief is that the objects we keep, tell a story of who we are and represent varying and distinct aspects of ourselves. Every individual is unique and has a story to tell, and every drawing is accompanied by a short narrative.

Rachel calls her body of work, GreyMatters: The People I Meet and Know.

Her process involves spending time with each person, getting to know their story and collecting items from them that will best illustrate who they are. She then takes these objects and manipulates them until she constructs the perfect still life arrangement. A unique and intriguing drawing on paper is then composed. 

Rachel’s artistic influences include Italian artists Georgio Morandi, who specialised in creating tonal subtlety in his still life drawings and paintings and Caravaggio and his use of tenebrism, a technique in which objects are enhanced, through the contrast of light and dark. By using these methods, Rachel aims to bring the objects, and ultimately the human subject portrayed, to life.

Charcoal is Rachel’s medium of choice as she loves the texture and softness of it on the paper, allowing her to work sensitively to the individuals portrayed. Working in charcoal removes the need for colour. This means more time spent focusing on the slight tonal shifts that occur. The result? Stunning monochromatic charcoal drawings with a classic, timeless look. Viewers are encouraged to see differently, appreciating the shadows, shapes, tones and contrasts and ultimately the objects themselves. The anonymity of the human figure portrait replaced with their objects, creates a sense of mystery, intended to captivate and bewilder viewers.

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