Artist stories: Siris Hill
Something I always look forward to is visiting University degree shows; it’s just so exciting to see the work of new and emerging artists who could go on to become the exceptional talents of a generation.
One of the outstanding highlights from this year was Siris Hill, whose work provoked a stunning blend of emotion in me that I can only put on a par with seeing Francis Bacon’s paintings in the flesh for the first time. And I’m not the only one: Siris has attracted an Instagram following of some 10,000 people, and if you read the comments being made in response to his work you will see the significance that his work carries for other people. Furthermore, having recently sold his first original piece for a four-figure sum, Siris is certainly one to watch for 2019 and beyond. In this interview we discover more about the practice of this unique talent.
What was the initial driving force behind you wanting to produce your own artistic work?
I’ve always been creative and placed great importance on self-expression. As a child I would create music, write in various forms and would cling to films and albums that I felt reflected me. Music has always been very personal to me. As I grew, this creative side became blurred and when I became ill, a lot of the issues came from an inability to express myself to others, the disconnect that was created between myself, my mind and other people around me became isolating.
I stumbled into art making naturally to combat panic attacks, but becoming a painter was a conscious decision, I knew I wanted to learn to express myself and create emotive works such as the artists I admired. I wanted to create an insight into my mind, even if only for myself to allow me to process it.
How did you arrive at your style of digital painting?
Originally, I wanted to paint using oils, but due to health problems I was unable to. I messed around with acrylics for a little while, but I couldn’t get on with them. I stumbled across digital painting by accident by reading an article that was discussing the art created for whatever film it was advertising. From there I began learning to replicate techniques of 17th century artists and transfer them over to this new digital medium. As for my artistic style, this seemed to just develop after I learnt the fundamentals of creating works. For many years I had no style, I wasn’t creating my own works because I was studying, creating copies of other works to train my technical ability. My style came from my own tastes, not just in art, but film, music and literature. I focus on storytelling, each painting is a very personal depiction of myself in some way. I paint as I feel, combined with everything I have learnt and practised.
What meaning does creating artistic work have for you?
"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton This quote sums it up for me. My paintings have become my voice, they describe things I otherwise cannot share. Art making is my therapy, bringing a moment of quiet to my mind.
How has your work been received by the public?
Since sharing my work, there has been a drive to create from the responses I receive from others who have similar experiences with their own health. I receive dozens of messages every week from all sorts of people, who open up to me about their mental health or share their feelings about my work. It’s always so intense and people seem genuinely grateful for the work I create. Students often get in touch to ask me questions for their research journals. One of my favourite stories is a young woman who showed a collection of my work to her family and told them ‘this is how I feel.’ She said it opened a conversation between them all and that they’ve become more empathetic, my work gave her the confidence to open up and talk with them about it and now she’s getting the help she deserves and needs. I’ll never forget the message she sent me. It’s surreal to think my work has impacted someone in that way.
What do you make of the current art world?
I think art is so diverse now, there’s something for everyone. My own personal feeling is that Fine Art has created a bubble around itself and a lot of the general public have little interest in the arts as they only see what is in the media. I think this is a travesty. It’s one of the main reasons I have little interest showing my work in art galleries, I want my work to be enjoyed by everyone and a main part of the work is to raise awareness for mental health, so it’s important to me that it reaches all types of people.
What's your longer term mission as an artist?
I would love to mentor younger people with mental illnesses and teach them to utilise art making as a tool for self-help. I also hope to be able to have the opportunity to experiment with more installation based work and exhibitions. I want to create whole-room experiences based on the themes in my work.
What's next for you?
I am creating work for a solo exhibition I am planning for autumn 2019, this goes beyond just displaying paintings, focusing on installations that will encourage an interactive and memorable experience for visitors.
Many thanks to Siris for providing an insight into his unique and deeply personal practice.
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