Visiting Hilary Herrmann

There is something so relaxing and nostalgic about drinking tea on a wide-open verandah of an Australian heritage homestead, eating homemade banana bread, listening to the chattering of chooks roaming in the tropical rambling garden, life feels good. This is always my experience of Hilary Herrmann’s life, from the outside looking in.
However, with the many heavily laden bookshelves holding up fascinating books about history, poets, philosophers, artists and spiritualists, and the extensive and fabulous art collection - there is more in the expression of Hilary Herrmann’s art than meets the eye.
This dichotomy exists in Hilary’s paintings which on one level touch on the domesticity of her garden life in the hinterland of Northern New South Wales. Yet the deeply intuitive freedom of her mind’s eye works her compositions; it layers her paintings with a naïve expression of beauty, fragility and hope. 
'What’s profound to me is people being kind; people who give receive so much in return.' Smiles Hilary! 
OTOMYS: Winifred Wanders The World is the title of your upcoming solo exhibition with OTOMYS and it is also the title of your first book. Tell us how this book and story came about?
Hilary Herrmann: Winifred Wonders the World is a collaboration between myself and my daughter. Our lovely friends at Animal Dreaming Publishing invited us to take on this project together.
OTOMYS: Who did you have in mind when you wrote the book? Is it for young readers or for the adults who read to young readers or for adults to feel like young readers? 
Hilary Herrmann: The book was written with young readers in mind, but hopefully it embraces the older reader as well. The imagery and text are playful, and we hope they make the day-to-day richer and more evocative. One may even see a tram rider don on a golden crown to help them reach their destination.
OTOMYS: In our conversation over tea we spoke about life, about the ups and downs of it, the strengths and fragilities of people and about the importance of kindness. Winifred Wanders the World touches on this, is it a fable of sorts?  
Hilary Herrmann: The book is a story of adventure and odyssey, to investigate, to be curious. A place of combating fears and anxieties, of giving and sharing, changing our perceptions. It’s about trust and connection. It’s about unknown lands, and uncertainty, it’s about storms that gather, rainbows and stars. What more can anyone need!!
OTOMYS: I loved the book and film Where The Crawdads Sing, a story about a strong, intelligent woman living alone In the marshes of South Carolina. The author, Delia Owens draws on her own personal story to write this book. Your immersion in the flora and wild and domestic animals that surround your home reminds me of this story in many ways. How has your personal story been intertwined with that of Winifred’s journey?
Hilary Herrmann: The importance of nature is fundamental to my wellbeing. The birds and animals bring an immense richness to my life, they give me joy. It brings awe and splendour into focus, it brings gratitude. I listen to what happens on this planet, it makes me weep. we do not learn from history. Avarice, greed, cruelty, malice. I switch off the news and paint worlds of hope. There is so much kindness too. I am fortunate, I have a beautiful home to hide.
OTOMYS: Given that you said ‘When I paint I have  music on. When I read, I do this in silence’, what music, books, podcasts, can you share with us for inspiration?
Hilary Herrmann: The vast content to be found on YouTube is astonishing. While I paint, I might listen to Ezra Pound, Becket or Aleister Crowley, John Cale, Nick Cave or Talking Heads. It’s all there, from erudite to entertainment, philosophers and poets to larrikins, mass murderers and mavericks, depending on mood and indecisions.

18.08 - 01.09.2022

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Join us for an exhibition walk through with Hilary Herrmann on Thursday 18th August, 11am - 12pm. It will be an opportunity to meet Hilary and gain an insight into her art practice. Conversation with Hilary will be followed by morning tea!
August 14, 2022