Vanessa Hiller is a resident of London and is an artist who paints, draws and writes poetry. She is also a primary school teacher who during lockdown was forced to take her teaching job online in her home.
Finding it stressful to do her teaching job from home whilst also home schooling her own youngest child she turned back to her much loved passion of painting to help her mentally cope. She also found a new voice in writing poetry and the paintings have been heavily influenced by the emotions that were drawn out after the death of George Floyd.
She is a dual heritage mother of four who hopes that her work gives people the space to reflect and she meditates to find inner peace in the silence of being still.
I think that when I was growing up as a dual heritage child racism was very much a part of my experience on a daily basis and I never truly felt as though I belonged. My parents relationship was very strained and I was estranged from my father and when he was at home the domestic rows were intense. I began to retreat into my own world of make believe through the drawings that I created and this started a life long passion with drawing and it gave me a place to be myself.
Each person we meet on our life’s journey has the ability to change us and impact our behaviour. When I paint, I gradually release each layer until it becomes a map of the present or a memory of lived experiences of universal trauma, hope, pain and joy. I paint the sinner, the abused, the political activist, the dreamer, the post-natal mother, the daughter, the sister. When I paint I am Woman and I feel the force of it in my brushstrokes. At times the brushstrokes appear as a healing balm. When I paint I place my own experience into the work. I am sometimes the victim but I am also the hero in my own story. When I paint an image of an incident that occurred when I was thirteen I stop being voiceless. When I paint roses for victims of domestic abuse I take back my power and offer up my love for others.
In my work I often use an illustrative approach and I like to work with acrylic paint and watercolour. I use collage techniques in some of my art and I often use photographs and old magazines as inspiration for the stories that I want to tell. I use my own history and old photos of my family are often used as inspiration. I try to put together the pieces of memories that are transient. Sometimes the inspiration comes out of a deep meditative state and other times there is a deep sense of loss or the memory of an event that dictates the work.
What moves me is the seeming minutia of life. Replicating the layers of storytelling in my work, it is in the small cracks that we get to find the real person and see what lies beneath. The lives of women, and particularly mothers, is often hidden from view. There is often a certain level of tension that runs through my paintings. We present ourselves as we want to be seen. Therefore in my paintings there is often a level of disharmony. I like to play with textures and I often choose a bold colour palette. I like to create a narrative that can draw the viewer in and I am very much interested in how we pass our wounds onto others without knowing it.
My art has been my therapy and my personal desire is that my art helps others to heal and inspires them to keep their dreams alive. If I think about the future I know that my dream would be to find a way to light up the lives of others and give them a safe sanctuary, a space where they can explore their own creativity and blossom.
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