Gillian Hyland creates supernatural staged images, presented as film stills or dramatic moments.
Hyland’s unsettling mise-en-scene are full of sex and desire, sadness and nostalgia. Narratives that are psychologically evocative – at once sublimely theatrical yet poignant.
Like Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin, the mix of fashion and art has challenged us to accept stylised new ideas of femininity and masculinity, innocence and sensuality. Hyland describes herself as an image maker and story teller. Her dramatic photographs are based on her own poems, and depict characters in human dramas and isolated emotional situations. Frozen in time, solitary and vulnerable moments are presented in glorious technicolor and timeless sets.
Hyland’s visual career began as a stylist and set designer. Highly successful, the move to photography was a natural progression in wanting to create her own imagery. Acclaimed for her use of colour and settings Hyland has used the same title for this body of work since its inception in 2014.
Encapsulating her memories and emotions in poems she then transforms these into images, offering a new perspective. Composing the shot is a lengthy process. Setting up a shot can take up to three weeks of preparation. Choosing the characters Hyland looks for people who can give something of themselves.
It’s not about creating a pretty picture, for me it’s the intention that lies beneath it that is truly worthwhile. I’m drawn to the thinking mind behind the face, the subject’s eyes holding a story in their gaze, that is what I aim to capture through my photographs.
The imagery plays with our notions of nostalgia, and taps into society’s cultural understanding of feelings and beliefs. The composition of each image suggests a larger narrative within a single moment. The photograph explores Hyland’s sense of self and society and aims to engage and trigger an emotional response from the viewer.
She says, ‘I want the viewer to look at my image and see themselves. The use of sets and costumes is part of creating a story that we can all identify with, a past we can just recall parts of.’
Gillian chose to explore a photo series in Cuba due to its vibrancy, history and the countries current period of transition. Hyland is used to working with actors and models but this time approached people in the street, scouting for locations while walking through the city, peering in windows.
Cuba is so evocative, it is like being in the 1950’s, there is an extraordinary aesthetic there. The mix and the diversity of faces is so inspiring. My eyes were constantly drawn to everything around me. It is so unpredictable and striking.
About Gillian Hyland
Born in Dublin in 1982 artist and photographer Gillian Hyland lives and works in London. Describing herself as an image maker Hyland personally composes every aspect of her pictures, a skill gained from 14 years in the visual arts industry, as a stylist, art director and set designer. This diverse background helped her realise and develop and artistic, photographic approach which led to the creation of the series “Words in Sight”.
Gillian Hyland presents “Words in Sight”, a project that began in 2014 and since then has been exhibited around the world and received several awards, including Royal Arts Prize, International Photographer of the Year, Travel Photography Society Award, Sony World Photography Award, Magenta Flash Forward Award, La Quatrieme Image, AX3 – American Aperture Award, Moscow International Photo Award, PX3 – Prix de la Photographie, PDN Curator Awards. [Official Website]