THE LOCAL FILES: MATT HILL
Matt Hill is an Aussie larrikin, a dedicated surfer and a much awarded and lauded sculptor. There’s nothing obnoxious or arrogant about his work, but he does take his sculptural forms very seriously.
Familiar yet raw, and reflective of his love of nature, Matt creates 3D forms from 2D planes. His material of choice is Corten steel, the designed-to-rust metal creating abstract garden sculptures and landscape lighting. As well as the designs that stem from his heart, Matt is often commissioned by hotel developers, architects and interior and landscape designers for indoor and outdoor projects.
Says Matt, “I am pretty stoked that people love my art, and that they are willing to pay for it too.”
Matt grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and started a building apprenticeship with his father when he was 17. Becoming familiar with bench drills and grinders, nail punches and sledge hammers, Matt also learnt the basics of welding. He moved to Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan, at the end of his apprenticeship to follow his passion of snowboarding (and sushi). What started out as a five month working holiday turned into a seven year stint.
Returning from Japan, Matt found himself a little at a loose end. His circle of friends had moved on with their own lives so Matt focused on work. His father had a range of welding tools in his garage so Matt played around with the equipment but right from the start he was interested in creating forms. He started off making small dogs and birds, using his welding skills, and this quickly developed into designing more abstract pieces. Being a carpenter, Matt is able to visualise designs in a three dimensional form, and AutoCAD helped him to create 3D images on a screen that could be translated into the measureable materials required for his more abstract sculptures. This is when Matt’s much loved spherical forms emerged.
Explains Matt, “I owe a lot to The Simple Sphere. It was the first abstract sculpture I ever made. The Simple Sphere won Best Small Sculpture at the Albert Park Art Exhibition in 2013 and it’s a piece I’m incredibly proud of. It was the catalyst for all that followed. Spheres are simple structures, yet at the same time complex entities. They are complete, perfect and whole. They represent the Earth, the sun, the moon and stars. I deliberately lay my spheres off-axis, so the viewer can see more than one sphere, which adds greater dimension to the work. The multiple rings are evocative of the planet Saturn and the off-axis design conjures feelings of balance, tranquillity and the idea of gentle revolution. The Simple Sphere is made up of multiple layers, concentric circles like a drop of water in the ocean. It is a reminder that everything we do has a ripple effect, that all actions are interrelated.”
Commissioned pieces have pushed Matt to experiment outside his realm of reference, creating designs to order has helped him to explore his creativity. He started experimenting with light so that his sculptures have as much life at night as they do during the day. “My sculptures are a combination of art and function,” explains Matt. “I have always wanted to create sculptures with purpose. Something that is aesthetically appealing during the day and also at night fall. You can see illusions, shadow play, reflections and light patterns within my sculptures.”
Matt’s sculptural animals are created from real life photographs, like his award winning Ellie and Billy the elephants and his now famous rhinoceros ‘Hope’ that he donated to the Australian Rhino Foundation and which raised an incredible $42,500 at a Gala night auction. Matt’s Japanese Bear family was commissioned for a development in Japan and a few of Matt’s kangaroos made it onto ‘Postcards’ – featured at St Andrews Beach Brewery where they take pride of place at the entrance to the venue.
He recreates their true form using panels of corten steel. “I don’t bend the steel,” says Matt. “I make three 3D sculptures out of 2D planes. Everything is cut into a polygon format, creating lines and angles, light and shade.” Matt’s life-size sculptures, the largest 3m tall, can take more than 300 hours to create. In 2017 he was honoured to be one of only six artists in the world invited to the Czech Republic, where he fabricated a life-sized rhino sculpture to be permanently fixed in the city of Mlada Boleslav.
Says Matt, “As arty farty as it sounds, the art is choosing my direction. I’m creating commission pieces, I’m working on industrial commercial facades, designing landscape lighting, sculpting life size animals. Moving forward I’d like to have a large factory space and perhaps have another person giving me a hand to bring my designs to life.”
"Matt Hill provides outdoor sculptures of simplicity, strength and integrity allowing them to be positioned within a wide range of settings. This is a great asset as it allows us as landscape architects to use them as objects as well as foils within a landscape. His service is outstanding and I cannot fault his attention to detail."
Matthew McFall, Landscape Designer
"The building is usually the art but in this case the art (Matt’s sculpture) will make the building."
Koichiro Ishiguro, Architect
Certifications and Awards:
People’s Choice Award, Art Red Hill 2017 / Feature artist at Mt Eliza Design and Art Show 2014 / Award winning sculpture at Albert Park Art Exhibition 2013 / First Prize – Sculpture – Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show 2018 / People’s Choice Awards – Lake Light Sculpture Jindabyne 2018 . Images: Jarryd Bravo / Jason Sammon / Giovanni Lovisetto
ter in the ocean. It is a reminder that everything we do has a ripple effect, that all actions are interrelated.”