Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

Hannah Maskell is a busy woman. Between looking after her two young kids, and working at a children’s bookshop, she creates intriguing artworks made from grids of vibrant colour!

The Melbourne-based artist floats between drawing and created painted wooden sculptures, translating her geometric motifs into playful, 3D wall hangings, mesmerising in their symmetry and simplicity.

Christina Karras

Hannah Maskell in her home studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

All of Hannah’s work has a distinctive grid-like pattern. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Hannah Maskell balances her duties as a mum with her practice. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Colour is key part of her work. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The grid format has been a constant for a long time, but has been in many different forms. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

In her most recent studio, her space was right in the middle of the house, ‘so there’s no escaping the goings on of the rest of the household’! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I can really only get much done uninterrupted if the kids are our or at school, they are in bed, or the are watching a movie. I have always said that time is more important as an idea of a studio than the physical space.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

A look into Hannah’s book, Hannah Maskell: Double Violet Continued. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘My wooden paintings need a lot more preparation before I can be experimental and intuitive, whereas drawing is almost instantaneous.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

For her wooden pieces, she starts by cutting up plywood into various length rectangles. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

They are then sanded, an undercoat of white is applied, before being sanded again. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Then they are ready to be painted! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Hannah says assembling the piece is ‘the fun part but also the hard part. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
31st of January 2023

Melbourne-based artist Hannah Maskell started playing with abstract concepts back in university, when she was studying fine art at the Victorian College of Arts. Creating both drawings and painted wooden sculptures, Hannah has always worked from her home studio, in between juggling the domestic responsibilities of looking after her two young kids.

The artist says her practice has been a ‘very slow burner’, but she’s shown at a number of artist-run initiatives around Melbourne and had a book of her drawings – Hannah Maskell: Double Violet Continued – published last year! This is on top of her time working at The Younger Sun bookshop, in Yarraville, where she finds the illustrations in the picture books ‘particularly inspiring!’

There are playful elements to her own work too, characterised by an intriguing geometric grid that has been a ‘constant’ in her practice.

‘I find the grid format calming and comforting,’ Hannah says. ‘Reliable and strong, as a visual and as a vessel to hold colour. I wonder if it is a natural inclination from writing the letter “H” in my name for my whole life, as a grid is an extension of the shape of the letter.’

Always returning to this shape and pattern of layered lines, this work has a beautiful sense of simplicity and symmetry, reminiscent of textile-based weaving. But for Hannah, her subject matter is less about the grid itself, and more about the colour combinations they’re comprised of.

‘I am inspired by colours found in flowers, clothing, Duplo blocks, the sky. The pencil box itself. Without sounding too airy fairy it feels almost spiritual to wait to feel for the right pencil to jump out,’ she muses.

Sometimes, this might be a colour she is repulsed by, or one that’s she’s been obsessing over. A lot of the time, certain colours also have a deep sentimental value for Hannah, such as violet purple, or olive green – which she named her daughter after.

All Hannah’s works start with a sketched out a map of where the lines will cross over or interact, before she uses her intuition to find the right colours.

‘If colours feel too harmonious together I won’t find it interesting,’ she says.’They have to challenge each other just enough, and find the right balance between right and wrong in my mind. I find it very similar to putting an outfit together. Some things work and some things don’t, for whatever reason. It’s a mixture of colour theory and colour therapy.’

See more from Hannah on Instagram here.

Recent Studio Visit