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Amy Hilton: A Geology of Being

Jan 31, 2021

Guest editor for TLmag 34 Precious: A Geology of Being, Amy Hilton, reflects on the importance of space for reflection and contemplation.

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TLmag sat down with artist and writer, Amy Hilton, who was guest editor for the recently published TLmag 34 Precious: A Geology of Being. An issue which attempts to underpin ‘preciousness’, as there is so much that remains precious on this earth- but there is a real phenomenon of scarcity which brings us to feel the fragility and necessity to take better care.

TLmag: The curatorial frame for TLmag34 is ‘Precious: A Geology of Being’ goes into the reconsideration of our being and our surroundings. It is so clearly connected to the current pandemic, I’m wondering if you could you elaborate on what prompted the topic and in what way the magazine explores it?

Amy Hilton (A.H.): As far as I know, the topic for this edition of the magazine had already been decided before outbreak of the pandemic. I feel that Lise Coirier (editor-in-chief) must have had a strong intuition that this particular subject was in need of focus. It is thanks to her sixth sense, perhaps. Sometimes we just know. Also, it is very much an apt follow-up to the previous 33rd edition – entitled ‘The New Age of Humanism’.

Lise approached me in June last year with the proposition to take on the role of guest-editor. It seemed totally natural for me to accept. I was elated. And the topic was already close to my heart – as I have been undergoing an artistic study for some time now, exploring notions of ‘relational being’, ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’… I often look through philosophical, metaphysical, geological lenses to create artwork as a response to my research. So, I felt already very aligned with the proposed theme at large.

This edition evokes ontological ideas – who are ‘are’, what is it to ‘be’ in this universe. And how important the contemplation of these very ideas even is. It opens up to ideas of ‘oneness’ – of the interconnectedness and unity between ourselves and nature, away from divide and separation. The word ‘precious’ do not always relate to gold or expensive jewellery, but also to fragility and imperfection. 

We wanted the printed magazine to be a precious object to hold in the hands of the reader, reflective of its interior content. I imagined it to be like a sedimentary stone itself – layered with meaning, with diverse material from the past, present and future: book reviews, exhibition reviews, artistic and design practice, scientific study, poetry…. It is fully charged with material and is a source of energy.

TLmag: In the introduction you mention: ”In these fraught times, there is the necessity for a deeper consideration of our own individual and collective ontologies – into the very nature of who and why we ‘are’. There needs to be a shift in our focus about what we deem ‘precious’.” Could you elaborate on how you see this necessary ‘shift’ in focus? 

A.H.: I feel this is an extremely significant moment for artists and designers. Deeper questions have surfaced. Being able to accept change is paramount. Surely by being confronted to not only ask, but essentially ‘live’ these deeper questions, must be yielding fascinating artistic results across all fields. Sometimes artists need this type of major shift to find inspiration in its in purest form. I am one of them. I can only see the positive in it: art and design enables for us to be brought into closer communion with the currents and changes around us, giving a deeper sense of our own presence. 

TLmag: Could you take us through the process of developing the magazine after defining the curatorial frame? How did you select and ensemble pieces to dive into the topic?

A.H.: Over the period of three months from July to October there was a natural cross-pollination of ideas from all involved (via emails and Zoom meetings, obviously). The journalists were very eager to participate. I remember we had a sort of overload of material and had to refine it quite significantly at one point in the mid-stage of its curatorial development. 

We had said that we wanted it to be more visual with less text-based features compared to the previous edition. We kept the right I balance between both, I feel.

A natural unity quickly revealed itself mid-October– each separate article or feature started to shine light on the other. By early November the graphic designer was adding the final touches.

TLmag: After going through the dense process of developing the magazine, what did you learn throughout the research?

A.H.: The role I played both as guest editor and contributing writer was so enriching. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. To have met and interviewed Franck Andre Jamme just before his sudden death in September has marked my destiny. 

I realised again why geology is so important to me. I truly believe that stones, minerals, crystals, meteorites hold answers to some of our greatest, deepest questions.

The creative process of writing about these subjects as opposed to finding my usual form of expression through painting or drawing them enabled me to find another way to go somewhere inside of myself to better perceive and accept what is happening outside.

I felt particularly reassured that, despite the situation, a collective of artists, designers, thinkers and writers could still come together within the confines of a curated magazine framework. In-between the front and back cover there are 300 pages of exquisite text and imagery that stimulate questioning, offering a fertile space for reflection and contemplation for any reader.

All images: Margaux Nieto

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