He is a red man all over, everyone can smell it. Even through the jasmine oil I apply so liberally before each shave he reeks of rusty iron and musk like the heavy gate to the bull’s field that was left open last year. I prattle on about the weather and tug my comb through his beard with my fingers crossed. Every time I snag on a knot I wince, afraid by the size of his huge hairy fists and the bulk of him sprawled across my biggest chair.
As an artist, writer and performer her work takes many forms including events, installation, words and works on paper but always investigates a subject from multiple angles – from colour and form to cautionary tales and space exploration. Often engaging with others, her projects involve a process of focused research and close collaboration at the beginning of an idea which is then developed over a few months to a year. Most recently she has worked with astrophysicists, fly fishers, private detectives, hot air balloonists, neuroscientists and weavers.
Gillett is obsessed with the stuff that makes us and the stuff we make. Her practice explores histories of belief, ritual and storytelling in order to question our place in the universe today. Starting from her collection of fossils, gothic oddities, Victorian ornaments and old dictionaries, she brings art, science, landscape and language together to build fables across space and time.
In 2012, whilst studying printmaking at the Royal College of Art, London, she won the Pushing Print Solo Award for Earthquake, a large-scale collage work produced as a result of her winning the Tim Mara RCA residency. In 2014 she undertook a geological research programme in Ontario, working with astronomers, palaeontologists, fossil hounders and material scientists resulting in a body of work focused on meteorites and their falls.
Her set of essays Sea shells, silk sails and the parabolic etching of the night sky was shortlisted for the Intellect Publishing Prize. In 2016 she mounted Quarry, a solo exhibition of collage, print, painting and embroidered works at the Brocket Gallery, London, UK inspired by Paolo Uccello’s 1470 painting The Hunt in the Forest. In 2017 she was an artist with the Laboratory of Dark Matters, a group of particle astrophysicists and artists driven by a shared curiosity of the unknown.
After completing a Lumen art-and-astronomy residency in Italy in 2018 she undertook an artistic collaboration exploring mysterious cases in the universe with Tim Corne at O House Studios, Sydney, Australia, following which her work was presented at Sydney Contemporary 2019.
From 2020-2021 she has been commissioned by Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts to develop a new body of work that digs into night landscapes and the different ways that we traverse darkness physically and emotionally, from archeology and astronomy to mythology, spiritualism and depression.