Kitty Hillier’s work is rooted in what’s above and below the surface, with a belief that all things are connected. Seemingly tranquil, Hillier’s paintings are created with layers of overlapping biomorphic shapes derived from everyday details. Paths are captured crudely at the time or half remembered and shaped by imagined stories, histories and unseen realities. Despite their outward tranquillity, these abstracted forms conjure thoughts of huge sea creatures deep underwater, planetary systems, or the microscopic and atoms of energy, conveying a sense of an indeterminable threat bubbling underneath the surface.
Hillier uses ink, acrylic and enamel paint applied with various tools and experimental mark-making techniques to build up her plywood surfaces. Edges are meticulously rendered. She then works back into the painting, sanding, scraping and obliterating whole areas with chisels. A space is created for the viewer to be immersed and transported, to pause and contemplate. In her most recent exhibition titled Under the Surface, found objects and bodily clay forms were arranged or balanced around the gallery, sometimes as vessels for collected rainwater, bringing to mind the always changing and precarious relationship between humanity and the earth’s elements and creating a living, breathing and evolving 3D canvas.
How little we know about the soil, dust, algae, lichen, seaweed, gut, seabed, moon, tide, grasses and fungi. Perhaps re-connecting and gaining a better understanding of nature is the key for imagining a better future world in which science, art and a heightened awareness of environmentalism intersect to create a new symbiosis.
Born in London (1984), Kitty grew up in rural Somerset. After completing her Foundation year at Falmouth Art School she gained a 1st class honours degree in Fine Art Painting at Bath School of Art in 2007. She then won the Reveal Emerging Artist Award in 2009 and was awarded the SAW Abundance Commission in 2013, which included a two week residency at Stroud Valley Arts and site-specific installation at Cannington Gardens.
In 2019 she was selected by Hospital Rooms to make two works for the MBU Exeter visitor flats, and earlier this year she became a co-director of CAMP, a member-led network for the creative and visual arts community in Cornwall and Devon. During lockdown, Kitty launched @artinthewindow, using the old shop window of her home to show other artists work, and she runs an online drawing group @pubsketching, encouraging everyone to discover the benefits of exploring experimental mark-making with the simplest of materials.
Most recently, she has been selected as one of three artists to work on researcher and filmmaker Rachael Jones’ project: Moving Landscapes, which will take place in 2021.
Kitty returned to Falmouth in 2015 where she now lives and works from a studio at Islington Wharf Boatyard. Her work is held in private and corporate collections internationally.
To see more, including selected exhibitions, teaching experience and other relevant employment, please download the PDF below…