“I feel very lucky that I have a life that allows me to do these things” – Sean Hillen
Born in 1961 in Newry, Northern Ireland, Sean Hillen is an artist and a fascinating character. In this wide-renting conversation, we cover his early life in Northern Ireland, literary influences, censorship, UFOs and his recent diagnosis with Aspergers.
As you will hear, Sean is heavily influenced by Ireland’s literary greats such as Joyce, Beckett, Kavanagh. After the interview, I text him to ask where is a good place for someone to start with these writers. Not only was it a great answer to the question but the short text really captures Sean’s personality:
Hi Sean. I’ll be releasing the podcast on Monday. In your opinion, who’s the most accessible of the “crazy bastard writers”? Where’s a good place for people to start?
Hi Conor. I suppose you mean my ‘dead boyfriends’, the Asperger genii..?? Well, they’re all different kettles of fish: Joyce, Yeats and Beckett the more highbrow (?) and Brendan Behan and Myles na gCopaleen more the comedians – with Paddy Kavanagh plowing his own furrow as always. Myles being ‘the funniest writer in the English language’ (according to Graham Greene, and I agree) maybe is the one but… not everyone will agree. I think his masterpiece is The Third Policeman and that’s what I recommend.
From the 1990’s Sean’s series ‘IRELANTIS’ has come to be described as “the most vivid and emblematic expression of the dreams and anxieties of ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland”– and have themselves become part of the cultural landscape, featuring on over 30 book covers and the subject of academic studies.
He co-designed, with landscape architect Desmond Fitzgerald, the Omagh Bomb Memorial.
His work can be seen at seanhillen.com
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Question of the day: what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Let me know in the comments below.
- Asperger Syndrome
- ‘Dead As Door Nails’ by Anthony Cronin
- Stendhal Syndrome or Florence Syndrome
- The Troubles
- Michael Fitzgerald of Trinity College who diagnosed Sean’s Aspergers
- Slade School of Fine Art
- Stockard Channing playing Lady Bracknell in ‘The Importance of Bring Earnest’
- The Turner Prize
- The London Imperial War Museum
- The Sean Hillen Collection at the National Library of Ireland
- Here’s what the video game, ‘Operation Flashpoint’ looks like
- Contacting aliens in Boyle, Co. Roscommon
- The Omagh Bomb Memorial by Sean Hillen
- Alison in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
- James Joyce
- Samuel Beckett
- William Butler Yeats
- Patrick Kavanagh
- Myles Flann O’Brien (a.k.a. Brian O’Nolan)
- Brendan Behan
- T.S. Eliot
- Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)
- Seamus Heaney
- Neil Shawcross
- Sean O’Casey
- Wilfred Owen
- William Shakespeare
- Jonathan Swift
- Padraig Pearse
- Eamon de Valera
- Oscar Wilde
- Erik Kessels
- George Bernard Shaw
- Hunter S Thompson
- Christopher Hitchens
- Arthur C. Clarke
- Robert Anton Wilson