Maddie Rose Hills paints visceral large scale canvases driven by an interest in play and experimentation. A mass of texture and colour, Hills paints using a physical and intuitive process to cut free from conscious actions. She has developed an acute interest in looking towards the detail of what she encounters, specifically within vast natural landscapes – reflected by the small details within her work.
You have recently finished a residency in Iceland, tell us about this experience. How did that particular environment inspire you as an artist?
Last summer, I was very excited to be accepted onto an artist residency in Iceland. The residency lasted two weeks and took part in the Westfjords where the landscape is essentially mountains and deep valleys leading down to fjords. There are no trees and the ground is covered in tough grass and flowers, as well as huge rocks covered in lichen and lava moss. The landscapes look baron and are inhospitable. The lack of visible wildlife as we know it makes it seem otherworldly. There are no reptiles or amphibians and the only land mammal native to Iceland is the Arctic Fox. We also didn’t see sign of another person the whole time we were there.
The programme brought together 10 artists working in different areas of the arts, there was a writer, photographer, filmmaker, sculptor, poet – I think there was supposed to be a dancer but they had to pull out last minute. But, the idea was that no matter what your practice was, your principal inspiration was natural landscapes and the wilderness. We walked for two weeks through these amazing landscapes carrying everything we needed for the whole trip. Due to the nature of the residency most of us couldn’t practice our art while we were there, it was purely inspiration & idea sharing. Interestingly, this allowed me to realise that I don’t paint from what’s in front of me but from a memory. The whole trip for me was gathering memories to go back and paint from after the residency was over. It was a trip in order to really focus on looking and noticing. What you then get when you make art is a response to the place – you are capturing an essence of something as opposed to trying to copy it. This has stuck with me and is now how I always work.