Lucy Davies, February 2019

Willa is an artist who lives and works in Brixton. She studied at Chelsea College of Arts and then the Royal Drawing School. She has exhibited at COB Gallery, the Mall Galleries and most recently had a two person show at the San Mei Gallery in Brixton.

Lucy Davies: Willa, I’ve been following your work for quite a while. From your shows and your Instagram I have noticed that you work with a range of different materials; from drawing, to painting and sculpture. Could you tell us about the process behind your work?

Willa Hilditch: I avoid containing my practice to one medium or process. At university I was making mainly paintings that bordered on sculpture. I used my studio space as a theatre to make work in - the paintings were backdrops and the sculptures were props. I was the character who activated them and would continuously rearrange them. I then started making slow academic style drawings from my studio set up. These slower and more meticulous drawings seemed like an antidote to making really fast sculpture and painting. I had and still have two paces that I work at. Since I graduated from Chelsea, the ideas of theatre within my work have become much less obvious but the curation of my work within in a space is still integral to the work. I am still exploring this conversation, but more recently through paint.

LDSo it’s not like you work around a concept, it’s more just a process of working?

WHThere are conceptual ideas that run through my work, but the process is definitely as important. I really enjoy making. More recently, in a lot of my drawing I have been interested in the surface of the paper. I read the book ‘Flatland’ by Edwin A. Abbott, where he writes from the perspective of a two dimensional shape about how it is to experience meeting other shapes.

Willa in studio - photo by Lucy Davies.j

Willa in her studio

Photography: Lucy Davies

It’s kind of funny. I mean it talks a lot about society, but kind of laughing at it. He talks about a sphere that comes into his world, but as a two-dimensional being. When a sphere comes into your world you see the cross section of it as a circle. I thought that was great! I also like the thought of relaying similar ideas into drawing. If you drew a line on a piece of paper and then you bent the piece of paper, you are kind of doing something weird. I like that edge where drawing meets sculpture: It could fall into either.

'Timmy Peal, Timmy Two Star and Timmy Ta

“I like that edge where drawing meets sculpture: It could fall into either.”

Willa Hilditch, Timmy Peal, Timmy Two Star and Timmy Tape

100x150cm, oil and graphite on paper

Photography: Lucy Davies

LDIt is almost like altering the norm from the way you would normally perceive it?


LDYou mentioned to me that you do a lot of walking. How does that influence your work?

WHI do. I use it as a way of thinking about things, but I find that, walking across London, you see marks on buildings, flattened chewing gum, old stickers that are coming up. I just find it really interesting.

LDWalking around the city, you see the remains of things and all kinds of 'stuff' that people have left behind. Like your example of chewing gum on the ground - it wasn’t intended to be there, but its now part of that space.

WH: Exactly!

Studio shot 3 - photo by Lucy Davies.jpg

Wall in Willa's studio

Photography: Lucy Davies

LDIs the display of your work important in terms of your concept and conversation? Do you think about how people are going to receive your work?

WHI am playing with perception when I exhibit my work. Whether exhibiting in an institutional or alternative space, the curation is integral to the work. I recently exhibited in San Mei Gallery, which was a domestic gallery space. I therefore chose to pin the paintings up in a way that was more akin to the way you would have posters in your bedroom. In another more institutional space I mounted my drawings on glass and stood them on a shelf like objects. Recently I've been playing with illusion within the work itself (my own light-hearted version of trompe l’oeil).

LDLike your recently exhibited arrow drawings?

WHYeah - they were funny. It sounds a bit obvious but I really want the audience to engage with my work. I thought that if you have arrows you’re kind of choreographing people around a space. Alongside paintings, I thought if you’ve also got all these arrows then people can’t just passively pass by - they’ve got to engage with them and follow the arrows around a space. I thought that was fun. They were also quite small. I like things being either quite big or quite small. I feel they either make you go up really close to look at them or you have to stand really far away from them. Plus, with the arrows, they surround us in the outside world anyway.

LDIt’s true, we’re in a society where we are pointed in every direction.

WH: Exactly, and shouted at in capital letters on signs! There are arrows everywhere telling you what to do.

'Card Players', Pencil on paper, 30cmx40

Willa Hilditch, Card Players

30x40cm, pencil on paper

Photography: Lucy Davies

LDWhat else has been influencing your work recently?

WHLoads of stuff. I’ve just finished at the Royal Drawing School where we spent a lot of time at the National Gallery. I guess I never really went there before - so stupid! Those visits have influenced my recent sculptures and many of my recent drawings. I look at the painter Carlo Crivelli a lot, who uses trompe l’oeil. I just like the way he does it - he’ll paint illusions into the work and also nails big gold chains into them. He’s kind of saying that these paintings are a pictorial representation of something but they also, in themselves, are objects that are present in the world. I quite like that and I have been thinking about that in my work.

LD: Your most recent exhibition ‘Flatpack’ was alongside Daisy Young at San Mei gallery. Could you talk a bit more about this?

WHDaisy and I were in a group show last summer and her work, scale and otherwise, had a relation to people, even though it doesn’t depict them. In the way that that show was curated, it looked like her work was an audience to my small drawing Card Players. It was an interesting conversation so we thought we’d have a two-man show. She also printed out images of her ceramic work and stuck it onto wood, so I guess we both play with the idea of flattening 3D things.

What do you think of these paintings from the San Mei exhibition?

LDI think they’re really interesting. The rubbings on paper have a feeling that they hold the history of one item, but with the painting on top, with quite a painterly feel to it, creates a sense of different movements.

WH: They’re weird, I really enjoyed making them.

LDDo you have any advice for recent graduates starting out in the art world?

WH: Not really, keep making art! Do they have any advice for me?