An interview with Maddie Rose Hills
An interview with Maddie Rose Hills
What do you most want people to feel when they view your work?
I don't want people to think they should be feeling a specific thing, I’d like it to be more of a natural reaction. I definitely like the idea of people stopping to look at the paintings and going up close to look at the detail, so hopefully, they would do that.
What aspect of being an artist do you most enjoy?
I love my studio in Beckenham Place Park. I’m one of around ten artists in residence who have our studios inside the Mansion in the middle of the park. The mansion was abandoned for years before Lewisham council decided to turn it into a creative space that could house artists and benefit the community while they decide what to do with it permanently. It’s so dreamy there and the other artists are amazing.
What is the scariest part of creating your work?
Probably that you go through phases where you really hate what you are making. Those phases are awful because when you’re unhappy with what you’re making it affects you in a really weird way and then you just get annoyed at yourself for choosing to become an artist. But then those phases go away and it’s all fine again!
How has Iceland inspired you?
Most importantly the landscapes themselves. I’d never been anywhere like the Westfjords of Iceland before. It feels so baron because there aren’t any trees so it’s sort of like being on another planet. It made me realise that all of the landscapes that I specifically love are these quite strange, inhospitable ones. I’m not too interested art-wise in the standard green grass blue skies ‘shabang'. I also think this kind of thing is something that everybody should do (artist or not) because it takes you right out of the human experience that we have created and puts you in a whole other mindset. The residency was only two weeks long but in that time we were walking all day every day carrying our food, tents, the lot. The Westfjords are a little bit mountain-y (slash only mountains and valleys everywhere) so it’s very hard work physically & there’s a lot of climbing involved. As well as this we could only drink and wash in river water. We only ate grains and dehydrated vegetables which we cooked on the camping stoves we carried. There was no phone signal whatsoever. We didn’t see another person except for the people in our group for the entirety of the trip. These are all things that you just don’t get to experience in everyday life and it felt so amazing not to care how we looked (which was not pretty having looked back at the photos) or constantly checking our phones. All we cared about was where we were heading that day and how we were going to get there. It really stripped it back and I think that mentality has stayed with me (maybe minus the showering). There were artists from all different practices - poets, writers, film-makers, sculptors, so the conversations were amazing.
Are there any other places that are really inspirational for you?
My family home in the countryside. I love going back there and painting in the fields, it’s the best.
What has been the hardest challenge you have had to overcome in pursuing a career as an artist?
There are probably lots more to come but so far the biggest challenge has been dealing with being quite lonely at the start. Art school is such a collaborative environment and going straight from that into a studio on my own in London was a very weird jump. I found being on my own all day very hard and my art suffered from not being able to speak about it with other people. I now have a part-time job in the arts which I absolutely love & have a shared studio with some amazing artists so I don’t ever have that problem anymore. When you’re working as an artist it’s definitely important to notice what’s working and what’s not and to make changes until you’re happy with it. It’s almost impossible to make art when you’re not happy with your surroundings.
Could you tell me a little more about ‘scale’ and why it is a theme for you in your work?
The scale is really important for me, this developed from my interest in huge natural landscapes & the feeling of standing in front of them. Coincidentally the main artists that I’m drawn to work on huge scales as well - Bosco Sodi, Bingyi Huang, Fabienne Verder, Mark Rothko. I’ve always been really interested in Chinese Landscape Painting and I remember reading that they would often try to paint on panoramic surfaces so that when the viewer stepped close to the painting it would feel as though they were inside the landscape. I felt like this was very much the case with Monet’s Orangie paintings. I’m quite interested in blurring the line between painting & installation in this way.
How did studying fine art shape you as an artist?
My course was very honest and very critical. This is quite hard when you are just starting out as an artist, but being challenged a lot from the start makes you really think about why you’re making what you are. It doesn’t leave any room for you to not really care about your work.
What are your greatest sources of happiness?
My greatest source of happiness is being with family and friends, preferably eating at the same time. I'm most content though when I'm walking listening to music. It’s random but I could walk listening to music for a whole day and not get bored.
Why does art bring you joy?
I love experiencing other people's art because I love learning about other people. I think that is the main reason art will never die out as a part of human culture. We have this real fascination with how other people are seeing the world, and there are different ways that we express this. A big one is comedians pointing out things that we knew but hadn’t thought about in the same way that they have. I think art is really similar in that it’s people showing you another way of experiencing something. I love meeting an artist or reading a lot about an artist because it completely changes how you go back and view their work. Sometimes I’m not sure I like a piece of work and then I read about the person who made it and it makes me see it completely differently.
What is your favourite: food, your favourite drink, and your favourite colour?
I’m going to answer these in lists because I’m not good at having one favourite of anything.
Pretty much all fruit and veg
Pizza from Homeslice
Falafel or halloumi wrap from Salas (the most amazing food truck ever) in Peckham. Cheese, any cheese! Maybe feta if I had to pick one! I’ve tried to stop eating dairy a few times but feta always makes me cave.
Earl Grey Tea, Turmeric Late from Nutkin in Holdren's Arcade, Vodka Lime and Soda.
I love Paynes grey, pink, bright yellow, olivey green, and any earthy tones.