Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Please welcome the very talented Aboriginal artist - MAITLAND HILL

Please tell us a little bit about your background - your childhood and youth;
I am a proud Nyoongar man who as born in the country wheat belt town of Pingelly and I spent my childhood and youth in the city of Armadale.  My greatest passion in my youth was playing Aussie rules football.  My local footy club was Armadale Football Club and I played for them from juniors through to seniors.  I won many 'Best & Fairest' awards along the way.  My dedication to the football club saw me become the first Aboriginal life member of the club.  My passion for sport has been inherited by my two children.  My son plays AFL for the West Coast Eagles and my daughter play international basketball in America.

When I wasn't playing football or drawing as a kid my time was spent with family.  Mum and Dad would bundle us kids into the car and we would travel back to country and meet up with family.  Big family gatherings were very special times for us; we would take a picnic and travel to places like Jarrahdale or Kwinana Beach.  Many happy times were also spent travelling to and staying in Boddington with many uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and cousins.

Where do your ancestors come from?  Can you please tell us something about that?
My grandfather, Charles Hill, was born and educated in Bridgetown and as a young man he moved with his family to live in Northam.  He worked the wheat belt areas of Northam, Toodyay, York, Quairading and Pingelly.  He married my grandmother, Rachel Abraham and they lived together in Pingelly.  Grandfather bought some land there and he was a very religious man.  He built a small church for the town of Pingelly on his land and Nyoongar people travelled for miles to attend that church.  My grandfather and his family finally moved to the town of Burekup for work and it was there that he was bestowed the title:  'The King of Burekup'.  He was a very respected man and when he passed away in 1966, his funeral was said to have over 400 people in attendance.

His second eldest son - and also my father, Horace Hill, followed in his father's footsteps of being a very respected Nyoongar man.  My father, who is now deceased, also holds a legacy and has a park reserve held in his name:  'Horrie Hill Reserve' in the city of Armadale.  He was born in the wheat belt town of Popanyinning and worked the land in the surrounding district before settling in Armadale.  My mother's country is Wandering and she was born in the district of Williams.  She spent much of her younger days in Boddington and Wandering and has now settled in the city of Armadale.  She is in her eightieth year but remains active as an Aboriginal Elder Advisor for the shire council in the city of Armadale and holds a seat on the Sea and Land Council Advisory Board.  

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes - from my earliest memories I was always sketching, drawing or illustrating images from comic book magazines.  As a child I would often be up late at night drawing and then be too tired for school the next day!

What age did you actually begin painting?
I attended Clontarf Aboriginal College at the age of seventeen and undertook an art course there, so that was my beginning.  However I drifted away from my art for many years and didn't return to it again seriously until the end of 2013.

What subjects do you enjoy painting most?
I enjoy painting landscape scenery the most because the land has a story to it and the vision that I see in it - is my connection to country.

Does your art usually carry some form of message?
Yes, when I paint I feel like I am caring for country because I am sharing the beauty of my country with others.  That is a message in itself.  Visions also come to me and I feel like I am an instrument of my art.  Those visions often take the form of my old ancestors and they demand to be brought back to life.

You paint for a reason, apart from the love of it.  Can you please tell us something about that?
Yes, apart from the love of it, I paint because I am compelled to.  Many times my hands will start to get hot and they often twitch at the same time.  I feel the painting or artwork inside of me and I then need to outwardly express it on paper or canvas.

You are bi-lingual.  Do you speak more than two languages?
I speak some of my traditional Nyoongar language.

Do you travel for your art at all?
Not at present but that is my burning ambition to travel nationally and internationally with my artwork.

Have you won any awards for your art?
No, but I am actively entering art competitions in 2015.

Have you won any other awards, professionally?

What are your short and long term goals for your art?
My short term goal is to compile a portfolio of my artwork and to have my own website up and running in the next two months.  I am aspiring to become recognised as a professional Aboriginal artist.  My long term goal is to take my artwork internationally and to travel with it.  I also aim to have my own Aboriginal art gallery.

Do you show in art galleries?
I have artworks on commission at Yonga Boodja Aboriginal Art Gallery in the Swan Valley and I exhibited my artwork at the Boddington Community Centre in September 2014.  I also have artwork for sale in my home town of Dwellingup, at the local IGA general store.

Have you done any/many media interviews for your art?
No, I am very excited that this is my first interview - thank you.

What and/or who are your inspirations?
My dog Chloe, who is a fully grown Rottweiler inspires me because she loves to sit at my feet when I am painting.  I also draw inspiration, energy and strength from my father and grandfather in the spirit realm.

What do you enjoy doing in your 'spare' time?
I enjoy travelling back to country to take beautiful images for my next artwork and drawing energy from being 'on country'.  I also enjoy getting together with my 'old people' and yarning with them about the good old times.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
My current philosophy in life is that I 'paint for country and culture'.  At this stage of my life in my forty sixth year I believe that it is time to dedicate myself to my artwork.  I would also like to add that I celebrate my Aboriginality through my artwork.  Thank you. 






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