Artist feature: Ralf Haertel


Image: Northern Tasmanian artist Ralf Haertel with their work titled Look into my world.

'The inspiration behind my work is the exploration of my journey in Tasmania as a gay man living here for 40+ years, and the things that have changed or have stayed the same,' Ralf said.

'The the formal structure of my work, the sphere, is looking at the idea of my world.

'The thing that led to the creation of this work was really the invitation to be a part of this exhibition.

'I've worked most of that last 20-odd years primarily as a community artists, often collaborating on large scale works with other creatives involved.

How has it felt to be featured within Grounded: Place is Space?

'This project has been an opportunity and an invitation to reflect on my journey. Not just as an artist, but my journey living in Launceston.

'It's always interesting to look at the process behind each work. The first part of the processes is coming up with the general concept.

'I've wanted to make a sphere in this process for quite a long time. So, seeing the completed work hanging in the gallery now is great.

'The next step is to go hunting for materials. A big part of my practice is recycling, so the primary material used to make the sphere are actually recycled blinds.


Image: Ralf Haertel, Look into my world (2022) [detail].

'For a very brief period, I had a career as a drag performer. One of my first outfits was a recycled 1940's ball gown and I rehashed it into this drag outfit, which I found in my collection of stuff, and I've used some of this fabric in this work installation.

'There's materials in this work from various community projects as well.

'People will probably also recognise the material from the Mona Foma onesie project, a very strong blue fabric, is also incorporated in here.

'There's also personal fabrics in here form my life and from my friends. So, there's many hidden histories as part of this work.

'Materials hold many memories for us and there's a lot of meaning in this work, particularly for me.

'As an artist, it's great to be involved in this exhibition as it connects my passion and career as an artist to the queer community. It creates a space where people from all walks of life who identify as queer, or queer connected, to have a sense of feeling part of a community.

What advice would you share with emerging artists?

'Get connected with other people from the community and let your creative juices flow. Just go for it. Art is a great space to explore your ideas and reimagine how our world can be.'