Tinta Talks with Melbourne-based artist Hilary Green

Tinta Talks with Melbourne-based artist Hilary Green

We have been long-time fans of Melbourne based artist Hilary Green's textural ceramics and colourful paintings. She makes the most incredible vases and candelabras that are sculptural works of art, not just vessels for candles and flowers. Our studio is scattered with pieces of her art which bring us daily inspiration. It was such a pleasure to get to learn more about Hilary, how she started out and what she's working on at the moment. 

When and why did you start working with clay and painting? 

I started tempting myself with clay when I enrolled in a night class about 10 years ago at a community centre. I remember I was at uni and I had to leave class early, catch an hour train ride, drive 20 minutes, get changed and get to the last half of the class in time. I think I was 20 years old and didn’t realise then that I wanted to do ceramics more than photography. I think it is that tactile nature of sculpting that really gets to me. I am an Earth sign so maybe it is just what I am drawn to :) I then got back into it when I realised there was a huge appreciation for handmade ceramics in Melbourne. I couldn’t believe the range of places that curated and appreciated ceramic art. The original Guild of Objects was a big influence and the community I felt there made me feel I needed to be a part of it. So, 6 years ago I took night classes at Carlton Arts Centre and Northcote Pottery Studios. I feel now that ceramics is slowly taking over my practice and for so long I had ignored it, not looked for it or understood its possibilities. I sometimes hear people say they are ‘not creative’ or they aren’t artists. But I think there is a power in exploring all mediums, it may take a while but you will land on something that feels so right.

What does a day look like for you?

A day for me in the studio would always start with a coffee and a sketchbook with a cat or two by my side. Probably in my courtyard which has two big fig trees for shade or my porch where I like to watch passers by say hello to my cats.  I have found that planning ideas, forms for sculptures or listing things to do makes me have a clearer head when I start a studio day. Although sometimes what I draw on paper takes a new shape when I mould the clay. I sometimes have a painting I need to finish and I make use of the morning light to see the colours on the canvas before heading into my shed studio to make work with clay. If it is a really hot day I will do glazing and leave the handbuilding until the evening so that the clay doesn’t dry too fast while I sculpt. Working with clay can sometimes be about timing. Have things dried? Do I need to drop off or pick up work from the kiln? Have things been fired and ready to photograph? So I work around what the clay needs. If I am glazing I get quite messy so I spend an hour in the evening watering plants and washing my equipment. My favourite time is late at night making big vases while watching a movie or listening to music. 

What’s your favourite room in your house and why?

My studio shed where I make ceramic work. For so long I did not have a space to set up, organise, make and not have to pack away after. I feel like I slowly build all of these unique treasures and they spend time with me until they find a new home. During lockdown I have started decorating it with fabric and flowers, candles and incense to set the mood when I make work at night time. Now that I think about it, I may also have plans for coloured lights and hanging shells in there. Out of all the rooms I devote my time to loving that space and I think it helps when being creative there too. 

What’s inspiring you at the moment?

The inside spirals of sea shells, green eyeshadow and mirrors underwater. I seem to find these tiny shells at the beach and am now turning them into large vases. Lockdown had me playing with costume and makeup which I think is always inspiring to see yourself in new ways.

Your most precious object and why?

I have a few, but what comes to mind is my Storm Glass. A very old friend bought it for me after I had seen one and it creates crystal like clouds inside the glass depending on the atmosphere each day. It is a piece of scientific magic that represents change and taking the time to notice the world. 

One of your favourite places to eat or drink?

Well I am a Brunswick local so I love to have a coffee and Pretzel at Theodores or chocolate croissant at Small Axe by myself and sketch away. Support local during lockdown!

What are you listening to at the moment?

All audio books by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A friend gave me the book ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ and it has been a soul giving read. I also am repeating my love of Titanic Rising - the album by Weyes Blood because that was my 2020 lockdown journey and it comforts me. Siren vibes.

Who is a maker or creative that you’re loving?

Oh, so many! For flowers: XXFlos and Hellian Petal have been florist inspirations and during lockdown. I met the divine Kayla from XXflos and I finally saw my vases filled with beautiful bouquets. @camiarboles has such refreshing and relaxing dance content. @sacreflux is my forever jeweller and @annacordellclothing and @kalaurie are slowly adorning my wardrobe.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Just Do It!’  Life is short and we should appreciate what we have now and search for what makes us happy.

Any fun plans we should know about for 2021?

Oh yes! Well fingers crossed a group show that I am curating with Frances Cannon ‘A Droplet of Dew on Her Glittering Web’ will be showing to the public from March 19 to April 4th at Tinning St Gallery. It will feature 20  female / non binary local artists of many disciplines and will be my first curated show. 

Other than that I have a special ceramic collection to be released at the XXflos shop early March and one on my own website late March. I hope to have a few regular collection launches in person when we are allowed to again. I miss going to events!

Portrait photo by Nadeemy Betros


Check out Hilary's beautiful work: