Lurking in a corner of a tattoo convention somewhere in a damp UK, I came across a stall selling images I could only describe as a Victorian horror, full of 19th century style prints of humans blended with mini beasts, conjoined skulls with floral decoration and , the one that stole my heart, a small Alice type figure with tentacles in the place of legs. A mass of ink had swarmed my mind like a welcomed oil spill, and since then, I have been slightly obsessed with the work of one Dan Hillier.
Living in London UK and working from his studio, Hillier uses a mix of mediums, including collages and inks to create his monstrous beauties. The subject matter varies, from a strong influence from travels in the middle east, such as in ‘Forest Buddah’ to the recurring theme of life and death – creating ornate skulls covered in floral decoration that could of easily been recreated from a 100 year old encyclopedia. From the mystical to the surreal, occult imagery and steam-punk aesthetic seeps through regardless of the subject, creating something beautifully new and strange for our mind to try and comprehend. Some of Hillier’s most popular work is found in his hybrid figures, mixing ornate Victorian styled subjects with the cosmic and bestial imagery that he is so fond of, challenging our perception of identity and ego. Using images in his collage work from 19th century prints and medical dictionaries, Hillier presents us a discontented and uncomfortable realism that sits uneasy on the eye, but demands our attention to all the wonderful detail. With a third eye present in humans and beasts alike, Hillier takes the Victorian’s thirst for knowledge and strips it away, until all we have is the terror of knowing too much.