Sean Hillen was eight years old and living
in Newry when "The Troubles", as we British are wont to call
Northern Ireland's civil war, started. It says much for his senses
of humour, irony, and wonderment at the wider world that he
produced a long series of montages called "Newry Gargarin". Even in
this early work, rooted in the grubby and mundane, there is
something transcendent about Sean Hillen's vision.
This personal perspective is strengthened
by the fact that he is a photographer, generating much of his own raw
material. Another favourite source is the picture
postcard, a telling combination of the ordinary and the sublimely
romantic. His technique involves a scalpel and a microscope, but
the intention is not artifice: many of Hillen's photomontages don't
fit easily in their frames. He wants you to know that these have
been made, and not just taken.
After studying at art school in London, he
now lives in Dublin, and his more recent work, which is highlighted
here, illustrates a more settled Ireland, after the "peace
process." His mythical Irelantis is a place where anything goes:
wild flights of fancy, musings on the place of the new Ireland in
the worlds of politics and imagination.
There are still the undercurrents of
foreboding, but now the sources of danger are not parochial, but
much more universal and even grandiose. Meteors and maelstroms are
a threat to us all on a vulnerable planet, but it is to the whole
planet that Hillen now looks for his inspiration. He seems to be
saying: tread carefully and look after this wonderful place because
we live in an age when we are fortunate enough to still have all
this, and it may not always be so.
Sean Hillen's current websites show the
scope of his photographic, as well as montage, work:
Reviews and prices of digital cameras at Digital Camera HQ