TACTILE – Louise Hunter – Book


This art book celebrates the work of Australian visual and installation artist Louise Hunter. Having lived experience of disabilities and semi-verbalism, Hunter presents a vibrant and tactile response to the world through her work. Louise’s sharpness of mind is reflected in her playful use of words and materials, which extend many ideas in contemporary such as Henri Matisse’s colour cut out works.

As Australia confronts the truths around inclusion and diversity, Hunter’s work presents as a profound comment on art, and what it means to be ‘gifted’ in the arts.

ESSAY: LOUISE HUNTER – Deconstruction And The Running Race 

By Alister Karl

There is an immediacy to Louise’s work that you rarely see. Louise is semi verbal and communicates with a mix of sign language, expression and sound. Stemming from this life experience, Louise’s work is concerned with and explores language in all its forms.

Her work Communication, 2009, (p. 28-31) made use of a photocopier to explore her hands and the expressions that she creates when communicating. She then took this theme and created a series of cards that could be used in the place of her hands to communicate.  

She often works with the written word. Sometimes placing letters in a combination that makes words, sometimes not. The visual language of photography is revisited again and again. She plays with the context of the images changing their meaning or just framing an image in bright red plastic electrical tape changing the composition.

In Louise's hands language becomes texture, it has weight and presence. Letters and words feel like mountain slopes. Images cut from magazines become architectural. Sometimes it feels like she wants to conquer language. Other times she is in a friendly foot race, not caring if she is winning just loving running with it.

There is a performative element to her work as she often creates a tape installation during an opening or as an art happening. Even when she is working in the privacy of her studio she has a performative element to her practice. When she works she adorns herself with the discarded tape (p. 65) becoming part of the artwork herself.

Every work feels like a journey that you take with Louise, as the act of making the work feels like the most important part just like the action painters of the sixties. Observing her in the studio you often see her carefully select images to collage only to completely cover them with new images throughout the process. Or she will add masking tape to an image only to remove it again leaving the paper furry where the surface was damaged. She will add layers and layers of tape to a work, the work feeling like it is finished ten times over the period before it settles, a little like the way Giacometti would work on a portrait. 

Louise has always explored ways to make her work interactive with the viewer. From her early experiments making flash cards of her sign language, to more recent experiments inviting viewers to add to her tape installations. She asks people to ‘talk’ to the world in the same way that she does. Often she will provide visitors with the tools and give them parameters to work within and let the experiment unfold.   

Her work is always concerned with deconstruction, deconstructing visual language, deconstructing written language, deconstructing verbal language. She deconstructs it in the same way you might deconstruct a radio to see how and why it works. Then puts it all back together in a way that suits her own ends and we all benefit for it.  

Alister Karl 2022


visual artist / sound artist

Louise has a background in visual arts, and has recently expanded her creative practice to include the medium of sound. Louise’s early career was incubated by the ArtLife Program at Footscray Community Arts (FCA). Many of the works in this volume were created at FCA.

Louise has actively shown work at a range of art galleries in Victoria, including Testing Grounds, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Brunswick Arts, The Window at The Edinburgh Castle, Wangaratta Art Gallery, JOLTED (JOLT Arts) and elsewhere over a 10-year period.

Louise’s practice focuses on tactile, hands-on art making, which has often been performative in nature, and influenced by craft techniques, such as weaving.

Louise is a member of the Sonic Adventurers Collective, managed by JOLT Arts. Since 2019 the collective has focused on gallery-based works, recently presenting the multi-disciplinary exhibition The Red Line at Wangaratta Art Gallery (2022).

Louise’s mentors have included: visual artist Alister Karl and the CEO & Artistic Director of JOLT Arts, sound artist James Hullick; and from FCA, Trish Thorpe, Mito Elias and Jamie Rawls.

Additional information

Book Format

Print Edition plus eBook Edition, eBook Edition only

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.