The first thing you notice about Aimee Hillman’s (@aimeehillmanart) work is how invariably striking it is. The depth and vibrancy of colour used in her pieces is mesmerising – revealing the artist’s innate appreciation of the power of a bold palette. And, of course, ‘Alpha’ – her new exhibition at our Borough Yards shop in London – is no exception to that rule.
A fresh exploration of the imagination and pop culture through contemporary and hand embroidered textile art, the show brings images selected from her own visual diary and carefully curated found images to life. Exploring the tapestry of modern life, the pieces present a vivid hyper-reality fusing influences from fashion, music, film, comic, and pop art. To mark the opening, we spoke to Aimee about her search for meaning in the world, why being an artist is a “never-ending learning curve” and the importance of giving back.
Why did you become an artist?
The choice to become an artist came from having an urge to create and following it. My creativity is a gift and I explore my talent and skills through different mediums and the desire to share what I do with others. I take huge joy and pleasure in the act of creation. I like that it’s a self-driven career and a never-ending learning curve about myself and the industry. I also feel the non-conventionality is really well suited to my personality – I thrive from change and love the variety of my days.
Why do you work primarily in your medium?
As a curious person, I've naturally been drawn to working across a range of mediums. I love being guided to multiple experiences, new feelings, and the element of discovery – combining platforms and techniques and adding layers of dimension.
I have specialised in painting, photography, and design but am always asking what is right for a project from the idea or inspiration, rather than dictating the form first. My journey of experimentation has also led me to textile and ceramic art. I welcome new techniques and the opportunity to find out something new about myself.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am fascinated by the power of suggestion and how it plays with the mind. By having a hyper focus, I am inspired to draw attention and elevate the perceptions and awareness of the world around us – often the overlooked details in everyday life. I draw huge inspiration from modern culture such as music, art, film, fashion, and nature.
I also find inspiration from within and my experience as one of many in the world. I’m a highly sensitive person and, with that, there comes a depth to what I feel. I can use that sensitivity for many things including my artwork.
How would you describe your work?
My work is an eclectic mixture of contemporary art, showing aspects of my own personality. It’s youthful, energetic, and stylised. It showcases a love, hunger, and appreciation for day-to-day life and the need to elevate it beyond what we may first see. I hope my appreciation of design and my deep, profound respect and relationship with colour shines through. Each piece is thoroughly thought out from the tiniest detail to the grandest gesture. Beyond the vibrance and positivity, you can discover the depth of my mind's inner workings. Although the aesthetic of the work is fun and a reminder that life can be light-hearted play to be enjoyed, there are also many layers to be explored.
What do you hope people take away from your art? What are you trying to say?
Joy. I also want to offer an experience for people to look at things in a different way – or reveal hidden insights. Sometimes the most difficult words are translated through creation, forming a visual language, using art as a vehicle and tool to express what was stuck or hidden.
I also have a desire to communicate that our imagination is boundless and our creativity limitless. Through the creative process we give ourselves permission to let go and set ourselves free of the restrictions of the mind. Diving deep into the unknown, often through the known, we are granted a space to explore self and through this we can create, express, learn, and release.
Imagery and intentions are powerful, and, in a more discrete manner, I like to put mine across while also leaving enough room for the viewer's interpretation. The depth of how far one takes their thoughts is dependent on the person, but at the very least I hope my artwork is pleasing to the eye!
How does being an artist affect your outlook on life?
When talking life itself, being an artist is a tool for me to expand on being authentic and true to myself and my desires. Finding meanings and seeing layers to things, adds a great amount of depth to my life and the world becomes vast simply from opening my mind to it. Just like art, life can be so poetic if you let it, with both the beauty and the tragedy.
How do you feel while you’re working? What’s going through your mind?
The feeling is expansive and feels evolutionary and exciting. Working with bold colour brings so much joy. It’s a release being able to have an outlet of strong senses taking place silently inside.
My favourite moments are when I finally see the rawness of my work begin to take shape. It’s remarkable looking back at something and being like ‘wow, that’s come from within me’. The tunnel vision and energy channelled into the artwork, sensing my way through on what changes, what goes where, how, does it belong? Analysing – without being pedantic – and learning about my strengths and weaknesses as seeing what arises with ease or with difficulty.
Do you have a particular routine or any “rituals” when you’re working?
Most often music, no distractions and making sure there is intention behind what I’m doing – and if there isn’t one, making sure I’m patient with the discovery of what’s to come. Sometimes it takes standing back, leaving things for a few days, and returning. Being open if something isn’t going exactly how I want it and trusting that something better is on the way. Depending on the project, the process of art can feel unpredictable and unknown and terribly exciting!
What does your typical working day look like?
I believe whatever goes into oneself, in the end, will be what comes out, so make it the best! Always staying accountable to this philosophy. Using every opportunity to let my true self shine through and give it to my art and others and pouring that essence into creating in my studio. The more I learn and evolve within myself the more I have creatively to feed on. I use my time towards expanding mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Practically it often looks like attending meetings, admin, sourcing new opportunities, and preparing for exhibitions. I also have other passions like horse-riding, padel, hiking, spending time with friends, and making custom jewellery designed to be wearable art.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you do and why?
Outside of my artwork I would like to mentor people, starting with children and teenagers. I believe it’s important to give back and, when possible, to help in areas that need improvement and more refined attention to reiterate positivity. When you’re sensitive and creative you might not always understand the world as it’s given to you and if I can be of support and guidance to help, that’s what I aim to do. I like to remain open minded to where and how I apply myself in society and my personal relationships.
‘Alpha’ is open now at Paul Smith Borough Yards until 24 January 2024.
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Words: Molly Isabella Smith