The Construction Specialist Turned Conceptual Sculptor!

At pretty much the exact time Hailey Atkins developed an interest in art, she also became a construction specialist. Her love for creating art and an interest in designing homes blossomed simultaneously, and Hailey went straight into drafting and building design from high school. 

Despite loving that job, the creative impulse would not subside, and Hailey ended up studying a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art while she continued her work at a roofing company. ‘Initially I had planned to major in printmaking, but I ended up thriving in the sculpture department where the possibilities seemed endless,’ she says. ‘The boundaries are very flimsy and so there’s a lot of room to play.’

Hailey uses industrial materials such as concrete, plaster, joint finisher, timber, steel to create her structures, as well everyday materials like paper and textiles or discarded construction debris. These are mulched, squeezed and moulded into her sculptural forms, which take the shape of anything from hand-cobbled trophies to freestanding abstract vessels. 

Rather than a thematic connective thread, common materials and a handbuilt texture give Hailey’s pieces their distinctive look. Apart from this, no two works are similar.

Testing the limits of materials is exactly what was lacking for Hailey in the rigid nature of industrial construction. In sculpture, there is room for experimentation – and for Hailey’s odd and wobbly creations, the point isn’t necessarily to make something beautiful.

‘I think the beauty zone is the place where objects go when they’re no longer able to pull at your gut or make you go “huh?”’ she explains. ‘It’s easy to get sucked into finding the perfect balance, but I think that it’s when things are just a little bit off, maybe even in a way that I can’t pinpoint, that my work is at its best.’ 

‘I don’t think the urge to make is ever going to disappear. It’s taught me how to think differently about the world, taken me interstate and overseas, and introduced me to some of my greatest friends,’ she says. ‘I think I’ve still got a lot of loosening up to do, but the older I get, the less afraid I am to make mistakes, and that’s when things start to get exciting.’

Hailey’s work will be exhibited as part of ‘Sunny Side Up’, an outdoor public art exhibition that explores Brisbane through the art of its emerging local creatives. The installed works will be scattered throughout the city’s CBD from November 30th – April 18th, 2021. See more here.

Learn more about Hailey here.


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