Victorian disguise

Walking into Wilton’s Music Hall, the first thing we see is a man with two taxidermy foxes attached to his shoulders at an impossible angle.

The occasion is an exhibition of  illustrator Dan Hillier’s latest collection, Feather and Claw.

Dan Hillier asked guests to come with the dress code 'Victorian disguise'
Dan Hillier asked guests to come with the dress code ’Victorian disguise’. Photography by Tim Mitchell

But rather then displaying at a white walled gallery with ‘free wine and chatter, I’d rather have a party’, says Hillier who asked his followers to come in ‘Victorian disguise.’

And my did they make an effort; head to toe in Victoriana with feathered embellishments or whole animals stuck on. Some people had seemingly gone for more of a baroque masquerade look and there was an undertone of fetishism.

Essentially guests had made themselves the living embodiment of  Hillier’s work and willingly conspired to create a scene which Hillier describes as ‘a slightly mental version of the inside of my head’.     

A bear and a guest outside Wilton's Music Hall
Dan Hillier and a bear outside Wilton’s Music Hall. Photography by Tim Mitchell

Dan Hillier's new works displayed in Wilton's Music Hall
Dan Hillier’s new works displayed in Wilton’s Music Hall. Photography by Tim Mitchell

The gin soaked proceedings are fuelled by Hendrick’s Gin which was more of a client then a benign sponsor.

Although this complete set of twelve pieces is an independent Hillier exhibition, it follows a series of six pieces commissioned by Hendrick’s Gin to be used simultaneously as cards and limited edition prints (available from here).

Another from the series
Women in masks

Another from the series
Another from the series

These take a men in masks theme which Hillier has expanded, creating six accompanying women in masks.

‘It’s a darker more engaging and more surreal’ route, says Hillier, who recognises the work is a departure from earlier series which juxtapose people and animals more directly.

Looking at Hiller's new prints
Looking at Hiller’s new prints. Photography by Tim Mitchell

Another from the series
One of Hillier’s new prints

Another from the series
Another from the series

Feather and Claw ‘fills the page and shows hidden sides to people’s nature and new ways to find connections,’ says Hillier.

Working from ‘intuition’ rather then with any ‘intellectual’ goal the images are composed through collage and by working on a collection of six pieces at once ideas are traded between pictures in development.

Asked if he’d launch in such a grandiose way again, he says ‘Yes, maybe more so.’ Baths of rose petals in crumbling decadent music halls and are clearly too conservative. 

A crow top hat
A crow top hat. Photography by Tim Mitchell

The hall
The hall. Photography by Tim Mitchell

Dan Hillier's new works displayed in Wilton's Music Hall
Dan Hillier’s new works displayed in Wilton’s Music Hall. Photography by Tim Mitchell

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  • Nellie Brown November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Stunning. I adore Dan Hillier- exhibiting in Wiltons Music Hall is a perfect cloak for his piercing daggers!
    Amazing building. Love.

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