Gillian Hyland

Born in Dublin in 1982, artist and photographer Gillian Hyland lives and works in London. Describing herself as an image maker, Hyland personally composes every aspect of her pictures, a skill gained from 14 years in the visual arts industry, as a stylist, art director and set designer. This diverse background helped her realize and develop an artistic, photographic approach which led to the creation of her first series “Words in Sight” in 2014, and was followed by the series ‘Windows Into Havana’ created in 2016. Gillian Hyland’s first series ‘Words In Sight’ has been exhibited around the world and received several awards, including Royal Arts Prize, Life Framer Prize, Art Prize CBN, NOA Photography Award, Magenta Flash Forward, La Quatrieme Image, AX3 – American Aperture Award, Moscow International Photo Award, PX3 – Prix de la Photographie, PDN Curator Awards.

Windows Into Havana

Gillian Hyland creates supernatural staged images, presented as film stills or dramatic moments. Hyland’s unsettling mise-en-scene are full of sex and desire, sadness and nostalgia. Narratives that are psychologically evocative – at once sublimely theatrical yet poignant.

Like Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin, the mix of fashion and art has challenged us to accept stylised new ideas of femininity and masculinity, innocence and sensuality. Hyland describes herself as an image maker and story teller. Her dramatic photographs are based on her own poems, and depict characters in human dramas and isolated emotional situations. Frozen in time, solitary and vulnerable moments are presented in glorious technicolor and timeless sets.

Hyland’s visual career began as a stylist and set designer. Highly successful, the move to photography was a natural progression in wanting to create her own imagery. Encapsulating her experiences and emotions from her trip to Cuba she then transforms these into images, offering a new perspective. Composing the shot is a lengthy process. Setting up a shot can take up to three weeks of preparation, she walked the streets of Havana scouting locations and people to photograph. Choosing the characters Hyland looks for people who can give something of themselves. ‘I am looking behind the eyes’ she says.

The imagery plays with our notions of nostalgia, and taps into society’s cultural understanding of feelings and beliefs. The composition of each image suggests a larger narrative within a single moment. The photograph explores Hyland’s sense of self and society and aims to engage and trigger an emotional response from the viewer.

‘Cuba is so evocative, it is like being in the 1950’s, there is an extraordinary aesthetic there. The mix and the diversity of faces is so inspiring. My eyes were constantly drawn to everything around me. It is so unpredictable and striking.’

To view more of Gillian’s work please visit her website.



Issue No.13 – Call For Entry!


Rachel Reese
Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Telfair Museums
Savannah, Georgia

Aint–Bad No. 13 Call For Entry is officially open! We are teaming up with a new group of guest curators and editors from all over to collaborate on a publication that seeks the best contemporary photography being made today! Learn more about each of these talented curators and submit today!

Rachel Reese is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Telfair Museums in Savannah, GA where she organizes temporary exhibitions and stewards the growing permanent collection of contemporary art.

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