It’s not so much what to paint as how to paint, the “how” being the significant form. The emphasis on the actual process of making a painting.

A dialogue with the grammar, the language of painting. The laws of chance. Natural and unreasonable order just held in check. Fragments of a voluptuous world. An approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.  Neither of which benefits from narrow definition, the truth is in the dialogue and this is constantly changing, as conversations do. A rapport between painter and canvas. An invitation to the viewer to participate. To expose the guts of the process.

It’s about what can be done with  the stuff, the paint. You’ve got to be madly in love with the stuff!


Look at the painting Hawkwood. The rectangle could be a model of human consciousness, with its areas of clarity, its hazy vistas, its clear lines and translucent pulses of colour. Everything is visible, yet unnamed: pools of paint become thoughts and memories, and they shift on the canvas, a combination of voluptuous ooze and faint and faraway forms. Hill-Smith presents an image of what it feels like to process direct experience, a snapshot of elusive thought and perception, rather than any depiction of the external world.

Author: Craig Burnett, Blain Southern


A work such as Brighton offers a comparable visual experience, but with greater energy and more ‘matter’. At the near centre of the composition a line of dots creates a hesitant sense of order, while around this ordered line there is a riot of fluctuating colour. The line of dots might be a heartbeat, or footsteps, some internal rhythm that offsets the wildness of the drips and energetic brushstrokes. And there, just to the left, a flock of rosy dots rises from a dark patch of the painting like the last sparks of a dying fire. Equally, it could be a patch of infectious disease, such is the ambiguity of these marks. And that is where the work gains force: the paintings of Hill-Smith invite the viewer to conjure his or her own vision in the process of looking, to find a name for every unknowable detail.

Author: Craig Burnett, Blain Southern