In the 1990s Diana Halstead broke with the formal abstract paintings she had been exhibiting in the preceding years, and in a rush of work created a remarkable series of drawings, a selection of which are contained in this book.
Halstead used an unusual technique in the works. She began each image with a crayon, then added oil paint, then put on a layer of watercolour paint. This process has given the images a strange mixture of spontaneity and fustiness. The quickly drawn crayon lines make the pictures seem vigorous, intuitive. But the layers of paint obscure some of the crayon marks, and create a sense of age, even antiquity.
Looking at them, we seem to see an artist entering a trance state, becoming fused, confused, with animals. Men and women have beaks. Heads crumble and regrow. Whales fill vaginas. Mullet leap from fleshy hips. The distinctions between the human and the non-human dissolve. Nature reclaims us.
Diana Halstead graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1963, from the 1970s she has exhibited in various galleries including New Vision, Petar James Gallery and Artis Gallery. She currently resides in the Coromandel.