Julie F Hill’s work responds to the vastness of nature as represented by modern science. Taking an expanded approach to photography, she creates sculptural installations that explore conceptions of deep-space and cosmological time. Through her work she questions processes of scientific knowledge production and the technologies used in its construction, particularly in relation to the disciplines of astronomy and geology. The scale of her large and evolving sculptural print works such as Earth, Water, Night (2023–), Dark River (2018–20), The Black Cloud (2018) work towards French philosposher Gaston Bachelard’s idea of ‘intimate immensity’: reworking the ‘image‘ into sculptural, ‘affective spaces’ that afford an imaginative and bodily engagement with the viewer. Their forms often resemble uncanny geological and meteorological phenomena: The Earth’s deep time evidenced in its geology offers our closest approximation to the grand scales of the cosmos and its scales and orders beyond the human. Enigmatic forms and materials such as smoke and mirror, invite the viewer to cross a threshold to encounter the unknowable.
Ideas and scales of consciousness in the universe are also explored; from artificial intelligence systems trained on vast astronomy datasets to conjure their own view of the cosmos (Through Machine & Darkness, (2018–21), through to exploring the agency of the inorganic via minor bodies such as asteroids, moons and cosmic dust, she highlights the intimate connections and exchanges between earth and space (In the debris of planets (2021), The Chemical Kinship of Stony Entities (2021). Her current Earth, Water Night series continues this thematic, drawing from Bachelard’s likening of earthly bodies of water to giant mirrors through which the universe catches its first glimpse of itself. Leading from this thought, she engages with ideas of Animism and Panpsychism: viewpoints that suggest consciousness and/or spirit is a fundamental property of all matter.
Linked elements of writing, performance and intervention are often devised as accompaniments to her installations.
Julie studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, and was Fellow in Digital Print at the Royal Academy Schools (2017–20). Recently she was selected for the Land Art Agency: Sustainable Futures: Outer Space residency series where she was partnered with environmental anthropolgist Dr Valerie Olson (2021). She was also awarded the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation as part of the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year, Royal Museums Greenwich (2020) with her work being exhibited at The National Maritime Museum (2020–21), Jodrell Banks (2021) and Fox Talbot Museum (2021–22). She has completed an Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice grant for her project Through Machine & Darkness, which has been looking at the use of AI and machine learning in examining astronomical datasets (2019–21). Her solo and duo exhibitions include Earth, Water, Night, The Stone Space, London (2023); Uncertain Ruins, commissioned by Camden Council for Swiss Cottage Gallery (2019–2020), The Space Out of Time, Terminal Creek Contemporary/Capture Photography Festival, Vancouver, CA (2019); Of Stars and Chasms, ArthousSE1, London (2019). Her group shows include Seeing Stars, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds, UK (2022); The AI Gallery, National Gallery X, National Gallery, London, UK (2021–); In Search of Darkness, Grizedale Sculpture (2018); LCN/SPACE Art & Technology, London (2018); Pokey Hat, VERBureau at Glasgow International Festival, Glasgow, UK (2016) and Single-Shot, Tate Britain, London, UK & touring (2007).
She has been awarded funding for her artistic and curatorial projects including Passengers (2016–), a continuing site-specific exhibition series which looks at the social, historical and material contexts of various sites and architectures, as well as Cartographies of Life & Death, curated for Artakt, Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Wellcome Trust/Arts Council, 2012–13).