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Life and art-career of Seán Hillen

Born in 1961 in Newry, Hillen lives and works in Dublin. He studied at Belfast College of Art, the London College of Printing and at the Slade School. His 1980’s photo-collage works, based on his own documentary photographs mixed with tourist, toy packaging and fantasy material were at different times highly praised and heavily censored. One recently featured as frontispiece in the Imperial War Museum’s book ‘Art from Contemporary Conflict’.
The original black and white photos have since been acquired as a permanent collection by the National Library of Ireland, and published as a book: ‘Melancholy Witness’ by The History Press UK / Traflagar Square Press in the US.

Sean Hillen - About

The gently post-apocalyptic and visionary ‘IRELANTIS’ series begun after he moved back to Ireland were published in 1999 with an introduction by Fintan O’Toole and opening speech by Seamus Heaney; are mostly based on the already-hyperreal postcards of John Hinde and have themselves become part of the Irish cultural landscape, featuring on over 40 book and magazine covers; as ‘Figure 2’ in the recent ‘Photography and Ireland’; on the cover of the recent definitive ‘Irish Art since 1910’; and the subject of academic interest in cultural, sociological and other studies. 

His series in the 2000’s; “Searching for Evidence..” and in the 2010’s; “What’s Wrong? with The Consolations of Genius..” related to the phenomena of ‘cognitive dissonance’ and conflicting theories in the wake 

of the 9/11 events were born in his personal experience co-designing the official Memorial to the still-controversial Omagh bomb; and the death of an acquaintance in the London 7/7 bombings.

He recently began a number of new different series which will he hopes to further collage into a large-scale work loosely based on the Sistine Chapel.
His work is in many private and significan public collections, and he has won several awards and prizes including a major Arts Council Bursary in 2015.

He has been a visiting lecturer in many institutions, given a number of lectures to different audiences and appeared on a number of panel discussions.

A new prizewinning full-length documentary on his life; ‘Tomorrow is Saturday’ was first broadcast in Ireland in late 2021 and is now available on the RTÉ Player, also on a growing number of cable networks internationally and is coming to Netflix Europe in summer 2022; and a book of his collected collages, designed by Erik Kessels, is nearing publication.

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