Sean Hillen’s continues the photo montage tradition of political artists, including the

influential 1930’s artist John Heartfield. This influence can be seen especially in

Hillen’s more political montages of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His Photo

Montage work concerned itself with the contradictions, the black comedies, and the

myths related to the Northern Conflict.

“I discovered the writings of Robert Anton Wilson and his notion of ‘Reality Tunnels’

– the idea that we are all, by human nature, severely limited in our comprehension

and apprehension of the world by the web of language and ideas we have acquired

and accreted and which forms our ‘reality tunnel’ – and that our job, to become

more human, may be to look outside of the cave and beyond the flickering shadows.”









With his ‘Irelantis’ scalpel-and-glue collages a bizarre hybrid of the

everyday postcard visuals, mixed with a fantastical other world. Most of these highly

decorative collages, showing landmarks from around Ireland, are no bigger than a

postcard. These works are partly influenced by the famous picture postcards

of John Hinde. Hillen adapts these nostalgic images, juxtaposing the familiar

touristic shots to create an altogether different and complex image.


Original photo montage artwork courtesy of Newry & Mourne Museum Iarsmalann an Iúir agus Mhúrn



Seán Hillen was born in Newry. He studied at Belfast College of Art, London College of Printing

and the Slade School of Fine Art. His early work, documenting the conflict in Northern

Ireland can be seen in his book ‘Melancholy Witness’. These works were the basis for

Hillen’s acclaimed photo montage/collage work. His ‘Irelantis’ project features his

fantastical and comical collages kitsch images created from postcards and landmarks

around Ireland. His works appears in collections including: Newry & Mourne Museum; Allied

Irish Bank; Irish Central Bank; Irish State Collection; European Central Bank; Citigroup SA;

Microsoft Ltd., Wolverhampton Museum and the Imperial War Museum.