• Dave Hilliard Studio
  • Palace
  • Paradise
  • Whataburger

Hi Dave, can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Dave Hilliard, I’m a visual artist working mainly on paper with painting and drawing.

What is your work usually about?

I’m interested in memory, so a lot of the work I make at the moment is based on old photographs I had from places I have been to in the past. I’m interested in the idea that I was returning to those places in my mind, so looking at images and just thinking about stuff kind of like I was looking for something but not knowing what it was. As time went on I got interested in the idea that my memories didn’t necessarily match up to the realities of the past, so then I got more interested in those distortions which happen when you’re remembering things, or dreaming or daydreaming about things-so now the works are kind of more about the distortions of the memory rather than the memory itself.

What can we expect from you in MK Calling?

I have three works in MK Calling, two small drawings and a painting, all works on paper.

One of the influences for the drawings is my interest in artists, people, and films that try and capture an atmosphere or sum up a feeling. They can often have quite a melancholic feel about them, and that I really like. The drawings are trying to capture an atmosphere or memory but they have a slightly dreamlike quality to them, so there’s something slightly odd about them.

I had to learn a whole load of new skills for them, because when I started doing drawings again I hadn’t done drawing in quite a few years and I thought I knew about drawing. You get some pencils and you just draw, but one of the things that I found was I wanted to get a real intense black on it and when you shade really intensely with pencils they burnish and you get a shine from the graphite, which I didn’t like. I wanted a really intense black. I found these things called wolfs carbon pencils, which are like a half-way house between a waxy oil pastel texture but they also have a chalkiness and blackness that you get with charcoal-so it’s like a really intense black. I use those and it gives a really nice contrast against the white paper.

The painting is more recent, and again it’s trying to sum up or capture a mood or atmosphere based on a photo, but this is done in inks.

These works are all set in Texas, can you tell us more about this?

Yes, so two of them are based on actual places I’ve been to, and there’s one where I haven’t been to the actual location, but I’ve been to the chain of restaurants it’s based on called ‘Whataburger.’

Texas is the only state I’ve ever been to in America so I don’t know if it is very typical of America, but it has got its own very distinctive character. It left a really profound effect on me and one of the things I remember thinking is that I felt like I knew it because I’ve absorbed these things watching popular culture my whole life, like growing up and watching American films on TV-so its familiar and strange at the same time. Also the scale of, certainly Texas, and America in general is quite frightening and quite beautiful for a British person and there’s a long history of British people being attracted to America and thinking it’s more exciting there where you’re from, it’s what David Hockney did, he went to America and made paintings of LA.

I think the works have got a real feel of the mundane, and places that you do just pass by. It’s quite interesting that when they’re then picked as a subject for something you’re giving them status of them being important or interesting, why did you pick them?

Texas is a huge state, it’s got some incredibly beautiful parts. It’s a really diverse landscape, like people always think of it being a desert, but a lot of it’s not, it’s got mountainous areas and forest areas, incredibly beautiful landscape , but a lot of the things I remember and paint from are those mundane things because there is some kind of memory or association there that imbues them this specialness. 

See more of Dave's work on his Instagram @davehilliardart