Monday, 29 July 2013

Artist of the Week - Nigel Hills

Nigel Hills produces paintings on the theme of 'Beauty In Decay'. He lives on the South Coast and will be showing his work at the Brighton Art Fair in September.

What was your journey to becoming an artist?
I started off being entranced by the art of comic books which I would 'read' or rather follow the stories, as much as I could, before I could actually work out what those funny little hieroglyphic squiggles in the word balloons actually meant.

Is being an artist your only job?
I'm solely an artist - these days in fine art, though previously earning my corn from various forms of commercial art which eventually enabled me to indulge in painting purely whatever I want to these days.

One favourite living artist? Soooo many to chose from but I suppose the most relevant answer here would be Sam Lock whose textures and forms belong in top London galleries.

 One favourite historical artist?
Again, sooo many to choose from, but I suppose the most relevant answer on this occasion would be Ditchling-based Frank Brangwyn who was a master painter, draughtsman and printmaker whose work seemed to straddle tradition and modernity.

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?I'm not sure I'd really be able to work with anyone else, but maybe as a decorator on some studio potter's vessels. Sussex has some fine potters and I particularly like the ethnic-inspired works of Sussex-based Chris Lewis and some of Carolyn Genders' works.

Who is your style icon?I think I'd probably be sued by anyone that I dared to suggest was responsible in any way for what constitutes my style.

Last book / film that blew your mind?
I only tend to read art books (probably a legacy from those early days looking through the comic books), but I once read a book of short stories titled 'Night Voices' by Robert Aickman because I was commissioned to illustrate its cover, and the story titled 'Stains' was very strange and powerful.

Last gig you went to?
That would be the magnificent Jon Anderson of Yes, solo in London. Still the voice of an angel at nearly 70, and his 'Olias Of Sunhillow' LP was the perfect production on every level.
How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?Quite a few, though mainly for enlightening myself and trying to source/discover new arty stuff rather than social networking matters which I rarely indulge in... I've a small circle of friends :)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
 It would be in a dream-house that I've roughly designed for myself, based on sections of old boat ruins that I saw in Purton, then symmetrised, spliced and generally juggled about in Photoshop. Sadly I think it will always remain just a dream, but if I could build it (or rather have it built by someone who knows their way around a hammer and chisel) I can't think of anywhere better than Sussex.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is just a very small table top. I like to try and paint with a controlled energy which requires little space and I find my work getting smaller and (hopefully) more intense. I often find that even the work of my artistic favourites can tend to be diluted somewhat as it grows in scale.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
It's better than it's ever been... I just hope I still have more time to enjoy it now I'm finally getting things sorted out.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

What would your dream commission be?
Seeing my dream home actually built and heavily funded so I could get all the trimmings made by my favourite designers. I'd like an organic ceramic fireplace made specially by Peter Hayes, and glass panels made by the wonderful Sussex-based glassmaker Lara Aldridge. I'd like to design it all, though still giving the talented craftsmen plenty of room for their own considerable creative input into making a wonderful celebration of arts and crafts of the last hundred years or so... and after my death, have it taken over by the National Trust as a kind of more contemporary version of 'Kettles Yard'.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?The London Royal Academy...I'd love to have a painting of mine illustrated in their Summer Exhibition's catalogue, as I have many of their historical copies going back to the post Pre-Raphaelite black and white editions. I stopped getting the later ones though, as the art within them tends (with a few notable exceptions such as the wonderful Norman Ackroyd) to get weaker and weaker sadly.

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