“Life is far too short not to have a fizzy drink”.
Seán Hillen pops his cork.
We’re standing in his north Dublin home, the likes of which resembles Francis Bacon’s Queensberry Mews or the mechanic’s garage in Robert M.Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. But, after talking to Hillen, one gets the feeling that everything is in its right place.
It’s the second bottle of Brut this evening but the artist has some cause for celebration.
Hillen is best-known for his socio-political, photo montages of Irish landscapes featuring nostalgic and, at times, kitsch imagery juxtaposed with international landmarks. The titles of which have comical inscriptions such as: Sr. Faustina Appears In London Newry, Miraculously Preventing The Illegal Photography Of Members Of The Security Forces.
Taking another sip of the fizz the artist announces a recent personal epiphany.
“My world changed a year ago when I got a diagnosis. I have a condition called Aspergers Syndrome. I’m not sure if it effected my work directly, it probably made me happier in my own skin. But I decided, there and then, that I’m not going to give a fuck about what people think of my work.”
Watch our interview with Seán Hillen above.
Seán Hillen was born in Newry, Co. Down in 1961. He studied at the Belfast College of Art and in 1982 travelled to London to further his artistic education at the London College of Printing and then at the Slade School of fine art. During the 1980’s his travels between London and his home led to him producing a body of photographic work which he later developed into photo -montage pieces that included the series’ Ideas for a New Town, Newry Gagarin and LondonNewry, A Mythical Town.
Presently, Hillen is busy preparing a new book which he says will be a definitive collection of a hundred works with a biography written by journalist Mic Moroney. The, as yet, untitled book will be designed by Eric Kessels under the working title: The Wonderful World Of Sean Hillen. The entire catalogue of work included in the upcoming book will be displayed in The Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast in January 2017.
“The thing that is very noticeable in my work is this desire and need to fix the world. This idea that there’s something wrong with the world and that I’m obliged to fix it by cutting up bits of paper and sticking them together.”
Seán has two other exhibitions based on Melancholy Witness which opened recently at the Westport Arts Festival and Newry.