Derek Hill

oil on lace on canvas 2018  

Derek Hill is an RCA trained visual artist, currently based in the North East of England. He founded the Art Studio, Sunderland and was its Artistic Lead for 26 years until 2012. Hill received widespread acclaim for his work, including recognition by The Daily Telegraph/Association of Business Sponsors of the Arts, (ABSA). Arts Council England and the City of Sunderland commissioned the installation; ‘book’ for the Visual Arts UK Initiative.

He was given his first solo show at the Imperial War Museum, London in 1983, with his body of work: ‘Victory and Defeat’. Since then he has exhibited independently in the UK and with the Art Studio, including at, Spitalfields and Barings Bank, London. In 2011 he was invited to stage solo exhibitions of paintings from his ongoing project, ‘Flaw’, at the Bracknell Gallery, Southill Park, Bracknell and at the Myles Meehan Gallery in Darlington in 2009. His art is displayed in various public and private collections including the Imperial War Museum, London. He is featured in national publications including the Telegraph, the Observer supplement, the Arts Council’s “96 from 96”, Arts Review and Flash Art International online magazine.


Studio, Colliery School Yard, Sunderland 2018.  Oil on lace on canvas

Derek Hill works like an alchemist. His studio is a magical place where he conducts his experiments. It is a cavernous roof space with alcoves and wooden stairways on every side. Overhead is a tangle of huge wooden beams with an occasional fluttering pigeon, and in the middle is a great irregular space. Paintings are everywhere. They lean in stacks in all directions. They are slotted in rows into every alcove. They cover the floor on sheets of polythene. On the narrow strips between them are pots and tools, and there’s not much room to walk.

Derek’s alchemy consists in making combinations from his remarkable storehouse of materials, and in deploying his immense compendium of techniques. His images are drawn, poured, and painted in a meticulous sequence of actions balancing chance and control. Some of his canvases are like microscopic biological processes expanded to a massive size. Others appear to be vast geographical processes made to happen in a few square feet. They are lucid and mysterious, generous and intense, majestic and, literally, wonderful.

John Millard July 2010.  (John Millard is former Executive Director, Collections, for National Museums Liverpool, and former Keeper, Tyne and Wear Museums.)

Studio, Hind Street 2010

Studio, Colliery School Yard, Sunderland. 2018 Oil on lace on canvas

Oil on lace on canvas 2018

oil on lace on canvas 2018


Studio: Colliery School Yard, Sunderland 2018

See link to Work in progress since 2016 Present;  https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMU9bRXzBRMgVCaVNR38WUqg5rAvyRvzrs_1KXrRVIqVBGGqDfv7svvumFMe2ev9A?key=bDlXNGhCb3BFR3N6RlNDeWZVRTNIc2x5V0pFZllB

‘Illuminating Bugs’

Since 2015, Derek Hill has been amalgamating his painting methods with microbiology processes from the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, (CBCB) at Newcastle University with the aim to create new artwork that is inspired by, hitherto hidden kingdoms. The project; ‘Illuminating Bugs’ is part-funded by Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences. Visit: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/cbcb/about/engagement/

“In contrast, the art practice which Hill has set up with scientists of the University of Newcastle is remarkable for the ways in which it represents an unfaltering stream of exceptional work that he has produced since his time at the Royal College in the 1970s and the persistence that he has shown in linking his art production to collaborative projects with professional artists and non-professionals.

When he left the Royal College and was travelling in Africa, Derek’s life was put in jeopardy by a bacterial infection. The trauma of that experience has been a mainspring of his work over several decades, and it found a ready response from the university scientists. The resulting link of intense lab work, scientific interaction and processing, and computer imaging with the organic nature of Derek’s art practice presents a remarkable opportunity for the creation of new and exciting artwork, and the engagement of university personnel, schools, and communities”.

John Millard 2017

Special mention to chief collaborators at the CBCB; Professor Jeff Errington FRS, Professor Colin Harwood, and Dr Richard Daniel

Hill’s Presentation to CBCB (PDF: 8MB).