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Phil Hale in conversation with Anna McNay

28th November | 4.30pm
Phil Hale stems from a family of painters. Following an early career in illustration, he spent a decade focusing on portrait painting, before deciding the genre was too limiting and extending his practice to include photography, film-making and surreal paintings, with figures performing various physical feats, usually in some form of confrontation or expressing some kind of tension. The driving force behind all of his work is the search for something “interesting”, some friction, some intriguing relationship – without stopping to question the potential immorality of painting, for example, dead soldiers. Hale collects myriad photographs and images – his own, and many from the internet – which he saves in a folder and later draws on and seeks to interconnect and collage together. At regular stages throughout his painting process, he will return to “ground zero” and reassess what he is doing, where he is going, and whether it is still interesting. “Every philosophical decision,” he says, “is locked in the surface of the painting”.

In 2007, Hale became the first artist to officially paint the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair – a work for which he received much criticism. In 2000, he won third prize in the BP Portrait Award and, the following year, he came second.

In conversation with Anna McNay, Hale will look back on his time as a portrait painter as well as discussing why he felt the genre no longer suited him and exploring what it is that holds his interest today.

About Phil Hale

Phil Hale was born in Boston in 1963. From the age of 16, he worked as an illustrator, apprenticing to Rick Berry. In 1987, he completed a set of 10 illustrations for Stephen King's long-awaited Dark Tower sequel, The Drawing of the Three and, receiving 1% of the book sales, was able not to work for five years, during which time he studied Fine Art and turned to portrait painting. Although still considering himself primarily a painter, his current practice includes photography, drawing and film-making.

About Anna McNay

Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She is Deputy Editor at State Media and former Arts Editor at DIVA magazine. She contributes regularly to Studio International, Photomonitor and The Mail on Sunday and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers. She has written numerous catalogue essays.

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
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Phil Hale in conversation with Anna McNay
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Founded in 1845, The Heatherley School of Fine Art is one of the oldest independent art schools in London, and is among the few art colleges in Britain that focus on portraiture, figurative painting, printmaking, illustration and sculpture.
Heatherley’s is controlled by The Thomas Heatherley Educational Trust.
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