Julie Hylands | Ben

Julie Hylands, Drift, 2017, synthetic polymer, canvas, fluorescent lights, mirror, soundscape. Dimensions variable – canvas size 214cm x 196cm

One of the great non-objective painters in our region is Julie Hylands, and we’re so lucky to have her join the FOUND! Studio Dog project, and lucky to have her just down the street a ways in our neighbourhood. Julie works with light in her pieces, literally and conceptually, and this aspect makes a beautiful link to Susan Lincoln’s works in the last post. I really hope to get these two artists in the same room some time in the project’s life.

The image above is Julie’s immersive installation, Drift, at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery in 2018. The gurgles and bloops and swishy sounds of the underwater was a beautifully calming background to her shimmering piece on canvas. Can’t wait to see what emerges from her studio for FOUND!

Julie, what is your art practice?
I like to create artwork that is abstract + immersive. I want the viewer to spend time with it, to contemplate, to wonder. I do a lot of painting; I make installations; I’m fascinated by light + darkness. I’m inspired by the ocean + notions of ‘the sublime’.

Who was your studio companion?
My beautiful dog Ben accompanied me in my studio in Western Australia in the late 80’s/early 90’s when art got serious for me. Ben was Doberman Alsatian cross + we found each other in Albury New South Wales. We drove up to Cairns + stayed for a few years then the big drive to Western Australia. Ben was female… but thats another story! It is her hair that prevails as a studio memory – hair in my paint, hair in my clay, hair everywhere!!!

(Editor: but the ears! See below…)

What are you working on in your studio now?
Currently in my studio I’m working on my piece for this project which I’m finding quite challenging as I’m using materials I’ve not used before, ie dog hair – so lots of experimenting + problem solving going on!

I’m also working on a piece for a group ‘paper bag’ show at Cross Gallery, again experimenting with non traditional materials + light.

How has the current imposed isolation changed what you’re doing? Has something really surprised you during this transition to ‘artist in quarantine’?
With my dominant arm out of action after recent surgery, I’m currently frustrated at my inability to make work, so I’ve been looking at loads of art online which is inspiring – let’s call it research. Oh, and there’s some intensive thinking + planning going on in my head (along with many long blank ‘iso’ periods 😨 interspersed with bewilderment and a touch of anxiety about the future with this crazy virus!!) Despite this, I feel surprisingly positive about my art practice.

Any special news about your art practice?
Luckily I managed to complete a couple of private commissions prior to my surgery two weeks ago and sent them off. Bubbling away in the background are plans for a exhibition in the next few years—I’m still nutting out conceptual concerns—watch this space! 

Ben, Julie’s faithful studio assistant from the 90’s.

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