Artist Profile – Dave Hilliard
We talk to artist and art therapist Dave Hilliard in the first of our new artist profile series.
What medium do you work in?
At the moment it’s mostly acrylic paint on paper, and that’s the way of working I tend to come back to again and again.
However, I also have done a fair amount of drawing, digital imagery and some more performative and installation stuff. I just choose whatever medium seems to fit for what I’m trying to express and whatever I’m enjoying using at the time.
How would you describe your art?
It’s the story of my life I suppose, I reflect on culture and my experiences and put these reflections backs into the world through art.
How would you like people to feel when they look at your art?
I think it’s actually quite hard to control how people will feel when they look at your art, which is a good thing. I usually have general feelings I want to guide people towards which might be excitement, or an eerie or disconcerting experience, but it’s up to them how they experience it.
You also work as an art therapist – what does this involve?
Most art therapy in the UK is non-directive, meaning you set up materials and allow the client to use them however they want and then respond to this. There’s a recognition that art making can help people to express and come to terms with that which cannot be expressed verbally. I worked with children in schools a lot; however, budget cuts have meant I now work in a more general young people’s mental health role in the NHS.
How does your work as an artist inform your work as an art therapist, and vice versa?
I think a lot of it is probably recognising how beneficial art making is for mental wellbeing, stress management and making sense of the world and our place in it. Children intuitively understand this, sadly many adults forget!
Who/what has inspired you?
The list of inspirations is endless and ongoing. Visual artists I like include Egon Schiele, George Shaw, Donna Huanca, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, Rothko, Ed Ruscha, Jean Claracq, Tracey Emin, Rachel Maclean. Memories of the United States and in particular Texas where I spent a lot of time through marriage inform a lot of my work, and there is an early Coen Brothers film, ‘Blood Simple’ set in Texas which I am in love with, in part because of the eerie Carter Burwell soundtrack. When I’m making artwork, I listen to a range of music including soundtracks and ambient things, plus a lot of abrasive electronic sample-based music. ‘Deaths Dynamic Shroud’ are one of the best of these, samples piled on top of each other, glitchy sounds like a cd skipping make it sound like music that’s attacking itself; it’s like an audio representation of the internet which is the sort of thing that informs the work I make.
What are your ambitions/hopes for the next five years?
To keep making artwork, to keep seeking out people and projects I want to be involved with. To keep helping other people live their lives as much as possible.
What motivates you to start and complete projects?
I feel that I have to make art really, I don’t feel as well psychologically if I don’t. Diabetics need insulin and I need to make art, it really does feel that integral a part of who I am.
How did you become involved with Arts Gateway/Arts Central?
I was aware of them as an organisation for a while through my work in Arts and Health, so when I decided it was time to get a studio again, I was pleased to find it was an option.
How has Arts Gateway/Arts Central contributed towards you achieving your goals?
Having a studio space has been fantastic for motivation. I was working on art from home before, but in my studio I can make more of a mess and leave things how I want them, which feels quite liberating!