Sean Hillen



Born on 1961 in Newry, N.Ireland, Hillen lives and works in Dublin. He studied at Belfast College of Art, the London College of Printing and at the Slade School.


An artist whose work has both popular and intellectual appeal, Hillen first gained notice in the UK with his early photo-collage works(based on his own photos) from the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ era which have since become widely studied. Fintan O’Toole wrote that the work “remains the best expression of what it felt like to be in Northern Ireland during the Troubles”. His original photographs, taken as a student, were in 2011 acquired in perpetuity as a separate Permanent Collection by the National Library of Ireland Photographic Archive, exhibited in 2012 with 17,000 attending, and a collection was published as a book ; ‘Melancholy Witness’ by The History Press in 2013, and by Trafalgar Square Press in the US in 2014, and republished again as a paperback in 2017. It was a ‘Publisher’s Weekly Pick’ for the year of 2014.


From the 1990’s his series ‘IRELANTIS’ has come to be described as “the most vivid and emblematic expression of the dreams and anxieties of ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland”- and have themselves become part of the cultural landscape , featuring on over 30 book covers.


Sean has also executed commissions and collaborations including video for Sony Music/Super Furry Animals; stage design, advertisements for Bank of Ireland, title graphics for the BBC and permanent sculptures for Citi Group and Dublin City Council. He won the international competition to co-design, with landscape architect Desmond Fitzgerals, the Omagh Bomb Memorial unveiled in August 2008.


His work is in many private and public collections and he has won several awards and prizes including a major Arts Council Bursary in 2015. He has given a number of lectures and appeared on a number of panels, on television and radio. A new book collection of 100 of his collages; ‘The Wonderful World of Sean Hillen”, with design by Erik Kessels will be published by an international publisher in 2018.





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