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The Playful + Surreal Ceramics Practice of Hilary Green

Studio Visit

Melbourne artist Hilary Green admits to not finding her true artistic calling until deep into her creative journey.

‘I had the technical skills to create art, but didn’t feel connected to what I created for a long time,’ she says. ‘…finding a creative community was the catalyst for finding more about myself, what I believe in and processing the world in a new way.’

She’s completed studies in Fine Art Photography and courses in wheel thrown ceramics, but it’s hand-building that has Hilary’s heart. From her garden shed-turned studio, she creates her whimsical pieces inspired by everything from seaweed, architecture and ironwork, to the charming illustrations of Sir Quentin Blake!

9th January, 2023

Hilary’s garden shed-turned-studio is draped in silks. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Artist, Hilary Green. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Hilary’s work is inspired by organic forms including seaweed, rocks, cliffs and ironwork. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She hand-builds each piece! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She works late into the night in her shed-turned-studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The artist is also inspired by illustrator Sir Quentin Blake. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Hilary also works outside in the garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She’s developed a handful of practised gestures that give her pieces their signature look. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I had the technical skills to create art but didn’t feel connected to what I created for a long time. Moving to Melbourne and finding a creative community here was the catalyst for finding more about myself, what I believe in and processing the world in a new way.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Hilary keeps a sketchbook with her at all times. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Her art features in her own home, too! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

You can shop her pieces online, or at stockists; Modern Times, Boom Gallery, Brunswick Street Gallery, Sister Studios, Anna Cordell, XXFlos and Think Alike Store. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘ I watch films and absorb the forms in the background like chandeliers, sculptures or ironwork,’ says Hilary. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Bea Taylor
Monday 9th January 2023

‘It’s like my hand does a dance when sculpting large pieces of clay,’ – Hilary Green

When asked why she prefers handbuilding over throwing clay, Hilary Green’s answer is simple; ‘The wheel makes everything too perfect, and my brain is not perfect, the world is not perfect. It is messy and complex, beautiful and surreal.’ 

In fact, ‘beautiful’ and ‘surreal’ are the perfect words to describe Hilary’s style, which is, in part, inspired by the work of illustrator Sir Quentin Blake (the artist known for bringing Roald Dahl’s beloved characters to life), as well as archaeology, architecture, seaweed, rocks, and ironwork.

‘I adored Quentin Blake’s illustrations as a child,’ explains Hilary. ‘And I still do. His economy of line, the movement, the joy and empathy that comes across in his work is perfection.’

Drawing has been something Hilary has always adored, but she didn’t start ceramics until 2016, after finishing her studies in Fine Art Photography. 

‘I should’ve known I needed a more tactile medium when I used to skip the end of class to travel to my ceramics class,’ she says. 

Hilary was working exclusively on the wheel until lockdown 2020, where, without access to one she started to experiment with hand-building, and in doing so stumbled across an art form that truly spoke to her. 

‘It took me a while to realise that I was restricted by the wheel… I began making some large vessels and found that hand-building and mark making completed my drawing style. I guess it just takes time to find your soul medium,’ she says. 

Now, Hilary works as a full-time artist, moulding and creating playful and organic sculptures with her hands. She’s developed a set of ‘practiced gestures’ she uses to achieve her signature marks and shapes, and sometimes spends up to two days working on her large coil vessels.

‘It’s like my hand does a dance when sculpting large pieces of clay,’ she explains. 

Such work could not be created without a studio to match this creative energy. Hilary’s does not disappoint, with softly coloured silks draped on the walls, large shells and shell necklaces on display, and candles lit to ‘set the mood’. 

‘It might be a shed, but it’s a magical shed at night time,’ she says.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net