Young Masters: Focus on Photography|Gillian Hyland

02. Gillian Hyland, Unforgiven, 2013, Photograph, 50.8x76.2cm Originally from Ireland, storytelling is part of Gillian Hyland’s heritage. Whether the tale is set in the modern day or centuries ago, the common emotional threads remain the same and will still be relevant tomorrow. By challenging our perceptions, it enables us to gain new insight and experience life in a different way, giving us a richer understanding of ourselves and the people around us. Hyland’s photographic series are inspired by poetry written by the artist, portraying raw feelings from personal experiences. Each poem encapsulates her memories and emotions in words; when transformed into images, a new perspective is offered on past events. Through the staging of fictional environments, imaginative and theatrical, her characters’ emotions are emphasised by playing with colours, symbols, texture and aesthetic settings, in order to produce an evocative atmosphere. The resulting images are not a literal description of a memory but an ambience, enabling the emotional core and mood to shine through. The imagery plays with our notions of nostalgia, and taps into society’s cultural understanding of feelings and beliefs. The composition of each image suggests a larger narrative within a single moment. The photographs explore the artist’s sense of self and society and aim to engage and trigger an emotional response from the viewer. 

Gillian Hyland is an image-maker; she personally composes every aspect of her pictures. Gillian has worked in the visual industry for 14 years as a stylist, art director and set designer. This diverse background helped her realise and develop an artistic, photographic approach, which led to the creation of the series ‘Words in Sight’. Hyland’s recent exhibitions and awards include; the North Valley Art League; 2014 International Juried Photography Show, winning second place; Unforgiven, Carter House Gallery, California (2014); Unlimited Grain Gallery Photography Book Competition, Netherlands (2014); PDN Curator Awards (2014); and the Royal Photographic Society International Print exhibition 157, touring the UK until 2015. Hyland is also the winner of the Gallery Photographica San Francisco International Photography Exhibition, 2014 and won medals in two categories of the PX3 – Prix de la photographie Paris, 2014



What is it about Young Masters that you are most interested in?

The timeless reflections on art, the parallels between the past and today. The appreciation of the process of an artist.

Can you explain to us what your work is about?

The photographs are part of an ongoing project ‘Words in Sight’, which is a narrative photography series that has been inspired by poetry I’ve written over the past decade. The images are not a literal description of a memory but an ambiance, enabling the emotional core and mood to shine through. I create fictional environments, imaginative and theatrical in which I emphasise the characters emotional state by playing with colours, symbols, texture and aesthetic settings in order to produce an evocative atmosphere.

Which artist/s are you most inspired by?

Too many to list, all who use their emotions, experiences and their views of the world to create something interesting and unique.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I grew up in Ireland and moved to London 8 years ago, I’ve worked in the visual industry for 14 years as a stylist, art director and set designer. This diverse background helped me realise and develop an artistic, photographic approach which led to the creation of the series ‘Words in Sight’.

What inspired you to become an artist?

To express a deeper part of myself, to create something of beauty that makes you think and feel something. To reflect on life from a different perspective, and see it through different eyes.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

I think no matter what I choose in life I’d approach it with an artistic spirit, I can’t help but look for meaning and intrigue in the world around me

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

To dare to bare my soul. It has been a long process creating this series, first came the poems which are based on my life’s loves and losses. Often we hide what hurts us, I overcame my fear and exposed it to the world through my images. I’ve reinterpreted those memories and given them a new positive meaning in my life. Now they’re being exhibited around the world, that is so rewarding to see.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently working towards a book which will be a collection of the photographs from the series ‘Words in Sight’, I hope to include the poetry that inspired the images to present a fuller understanding to the viewer of the meaning behind the process.

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