Louise Hayward is a printmaker based in London. Her work explores a fascination with housing – specifically the tower blocks and social housing in inner London, the place where she grew up. Hayward suggests that “this kind of architecture has become negatively associated with the welfare state and social decay while the buildings themselves often have a powerful, enigmatic presence in the city.” Her prints successfully convey this ‘enigmatic presence’; her buildings are looming, beautiful and austere.
Hayward uses relief printmaking processes to create her work, mainly wood engraving, lino cut and engraving on plastic. Most of her work is printed in monochrome. In some prints, she adds colour or other tones using separately-engraved thin plastic plates.
The use of a limited palette focuses our attention on the shapes of the buildings, and patterns within the image. Pattern seems especially important in Hayward’s work; in the tower prints, our eyes can become lost and dazzled in the hundreds of tiny windows – building up a sense of the buildings’ power over us and the dizzying experience of encountering a huge building.
Light and shade are crucial in her prints; light draws our focus to details, while shade makes the buildings sculptural through dramatic contrast. The shadow of one tower block on another (Point Blocks on the Tustin Estate) implies a light source that is outside the frame of the picture. This causes us to see the picture as a carefully-chosen, poignantly selected part of a wider scene.
Hayward also uses the composition of light and shadow to create a sense of moment – and narrative – in her work. By picking out highlights such as lit windows (Gordon House, Evening) or the faces of buildings lit by low sun (On The Brandon Estate) Hayward captures a fleeting moment, setting the picture at a specific time of day. We know that the sun will go up or down, the light will change, or more windows will light up, and the moment will move on and be lost. In this way, each print can seem like a still frame from a film, or a life.