In the days preceding her photographic exhibition; Summer Submissions, our friend Nikki Hillier has infused the page with ruminations on travel.
Summer Submissions will encompass a select series of photographs taken along Nikki's travels in an ode to sun drenched, ephemeral memories.
This feature is accompanied by a self portrait series as well as a couple of preview images from the exhibition.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY IS COURTESY OF NIKKI HILLIER
WARDROBE : BEFORE MARCH
NIKKI, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PUT TOGETHER YOUR UPCOMING EXHIBITION?
I had really beautiful responses from friends when I shared my photography from my travels. I think the seed was finally planted when I was told they would have my photography printed on their wall, that felt like such a compliment. I imagined a room filled with friends and family celebrating, talking about travels, summer, feeling good and joyful - that’s what I really wanted to achieve more than anything.
THIS CURATION & ITS TITLE APPEARS AS AN ODE TO SUMMER. WHAT ARE THE SCENTS & SOUNDS OF SUMMER THAT YOU LONG FOR?
When the jasmine starts to bloom, the smell of sun-dried sheets, freshly applied sunscreen, mango, the sound of backyard gatherings over the fence, cicadas, a beer cracking.
YOU ARE LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO TRAVEL FOR WORK, SOMEWHAT FREQUENTLY. HOW WAS TRAVEL BROADENED & INFORMED YOUR CREATIVITY?
I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to travel and work. Modelling introduced me to solo travel which inevitably allows room for personal growth and creativity. Often I might be based in a city by myself for a few months at a time, so when I’m not working I really love to go on long walks and get lost. I'll take my sketch book or a camera with me and it provides me with a bit of a purpose for my day. Capturing a photo or setting up a drawing teaches me to take in all the small things, how the light falls on a wall, casting reflections, enhancing colours, shadows, movement. I love observing how people interact with a space, each other, clothes and textures. The things that when you’re in a hurry or at home don’t have the same impact on you- I don’t think I'll ever stop being inspired by those things.
WHERE LANGUAGE BARRIERS OR WORDS FAIL, IMAGES CAN COMMUNICATE SO MUCH. HOW HAS PHOTOGRAPHY HELPED TO CREATE A DIALOGUE BETWEEN YOURSELF & THE WORLD YOU'RE WITNESSING?
I find people so fascinating, and am a born people watcher. This is where I think my fascination with portraiture came from. I like to photograph people performing the mundane daily rituals of life, perhaps as a bit of a pushback from the rigidity and structure of the modelling industry. I feel like there’s a universality and understanding in the simple acts of a hand being held, a quiet moment in a crowd, an evening swim, laughter, a shared meal and a kiss. These moments feel poetic, intimate and in a lot of ways, communicate much more than words can.
CAN YOU SHARE A MEMORY OR BACKSTORY LINKED TO A PARTICULAR IMAGE?
One of my favourites is a picture I took of a woman in Deia, Majorca. A friend and I had heard about a little Cala that was quite a treck down a rocky cliff face. It was tricky to get to, but we were determined. The cove was crystal blue with a tiny restaurant built off the cliff. Locals were perched on rocks, or swimming. Kids were jumping off boulders protruding out of the water. It was nothing like the long stretches of sand we are used to in Australia. We struggled to find a flat enough rock to lay a towel down and one that wouldn’t poke you in the back. I felt like a novice stumbling over the rocks to get to the water and back again having to stop and steady myself. My friend sat laughing at me from her vantage point. I saw a woman by herself, she had silver bangles piled on her wrists, and her skin told a story of a lifetime spent in the sun. She was peeling an orange with a pocket knife and reading. Her head was supported by the perfect grove in a rock, she’d been here before. She seemed to have such a handle on pleasure and simplicity. She was a reminder to always make time for that.
PLAN A SMALL ITINERARY AROUND A FAVOURITE DESTINATION
Paris is one of my favourite cities, I’m lucky to have spent quite a bit of time and summers there. It’s an overwhelming place with endless galleries and museums and I found it quite hard initially to slow the pace down and enjoy really long peaceful days, but I’m getting much better.
My perfect day would start with a black coffee and a Pain au chocolate from Tout Autour du Pain and a stroll through the Marais. I love the OFR bookshop and like to spend a while working my way through the stacks of architecture, design and art books and magazines. I once saw the chef from the restaurant next door chatting with the bookshop owner, perhaps sympathising about their long work day. The chef quickly disappeared only to return with two glasses, a bottle of red wine, corkscrew and a small plate of something fresh out the oven. This was all balanced on-top of a pile of books as they ate and drank together. It was 10am. There’s a little sandwich place on the square du Temple- Elie Weisel, which is perfect for lunch in the park. The grass is often scattered with people in summer. I’ll walk along the Seine and through the Tuileries to Musèe de l’Orangerie which is my favourite. Its best to try and go when it's a little quieter and admire the building which originally housed orange trees in winter and now house Monets Lillies. These oval rooms here, feel holy to me. Everyone is told to move through in silence and admire the space that he intended to be a “refuge of peaceful meditation”. I might perch myself by a fountain in the gardens and read a book, after which its probably a suitable time for a glass of wine and I'll head to “A Lot Of Wine”. This is a really nice spot to people watch and lovely when the sun is setting. For dinner I might head to Le Mary Celeste or Bistrot Paul Bert.