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Martin Hill is an internationally recognised environmental artist and photographer. Born in the UK, Hill was educated at High Wyckham College of Art & Design before embarking on a career in visual communications and design. Hill held numerous positions as Creative Director at prominent companies in London, Nairobi, Sydney and Auckland, before settling in New Zealand and founding his own award-winning company, Poulsen & Hill Design (later Martin Hill Design) in Auckland in 1987. Examples of Hill's design work are on permanent display at the National Bibliotheque du Graphique in Nice, France.
Coinciding with the establishment of Martin Hill Design in 1992, Hill began to explore concepts of environmental responsibility and sustainability in his design work. As Hill remembers, "I became so concerned about products causing environmental damage because of their unsustainable design that I turned my focus to understanding and communicating about solutions to these design issues." Hill's environmentally empathetic approach to design solutions garnered international acclaim in the commercial arena in which he worked. However, Hill was gradually beginning to feel a desire to express his concerns in a more artistic manner than he felt creatively possible in the design industry and so his concept of ephemeral, environmentally-based sculpture was born.
Constructed from various natural media such as leaves, stones, ice and reeds, Hill's work creates a fleeting mark on the environment, although its message extends far beyond its physical existence. Using recurring motifs for reinforcement (the reflected hemisphere is a favoured form), Hill's work metaphorically examines the rhythmic, cyclical aspects of nature in opposition to the linear, finite aspects of design in contemporary culture. Ultimately, Hill's ephemeral work is a response to the environment from which it was made and to which it will return.
By exploring environmental concerns in an artistic sphere, Hill has been able to effect a widespread acknowledgement of the concept of sustainability. This has been reinforced by his creation of and subsequent involvement in the Fine Line Project, a collaborative project with Philippa Jones whose goal is to create twelve environmental sculptures at significant summits linked by a symbolic line encircling the earth. The Fine Line Project is now in its fifteenth year and has seen eight of the twelve sculptures produced to date. Hill and Jones completed the first sculpture on Mt Ngauruhoe in 1996 before moving on to Yosemite National Park in California, Madagascar, Canada, Scotland, Switzerland, Iceland and most recently Kenya.
Hill's work has been exhibited internationally and has featured in a multitude of magazine articles, television documentaries and websites. He continues to produce ephemeral work and has diversified into permanent sculpture on a commission basis, with his most recent creation being the 600kg steel chain work "Interdependence" near Queenstown. Hill's interest in permanent sculpture is by no means a retraction of his driving intent, but rather a solidification of the overarching environmental concerns in his artistic practice - a permanent reminder of Hill's mission - to raise awareness of our relationship with the environment we inhabit.