A few weeks ago I was out for a wander round North Soho and I noticed a crowd of people up an alleyway, gathered around a large sphere made up from pieces of old dolls, furniture, plastic ornaments, musical instruments, machinery and various other ephemera. A young woman came out of a doorway next to the sphere and invited me inside for a drink - let’s face it, doll parts and free drink, you’ve just got to find out more, so I accepted her offer and entered the bizarre, bewildering, intriguing world of Lesley Hilling.
She is a genuinely fascinating artist who salvages objects and pieces of objects from other lives, other times, and re-imagines and reconstitutes them into something new, beguiling and utterly captivating. Her art manifests itself as huge monolithic towers beautifully constructed and meticulously crafted from thousands of tiny pieces of piano parts, driftwood, floorboards and furniture punctuated with lenses, apertures, tiny doorways which, on closer inspection lead to miniature scenarios, snapshots of imagined lives and experiences, forgotten treasures and souvenirs, old photographs, shells salvaged from the beach, pebbles from a long-forgotten trip to the seaside.
A few days later I bumped into Lesley in Brixton market and she invited me into her house – a veritable treasure trove of old photo albums, ancient comic books and instruction manuals, test tubes and sample jars from long-abandoned school biology laboratories. Her walls are papered with pages torn from ancient technical manuals and skulls, discarded toys and board games populate various niches and shelves in every room.
Her artworks allow you to discover you to places, events, people that you half-remember, stir up a nostalgia for a time you never experienced, all packaged in a way you’ve probably never seen before.
Sphere no. 9 (above) is now hanging proudly at the bottom of my stairs in Hammersmith – check out her other pieces at http://www.lesleyhilling.co.uk/