Textural artist Gill Hickman has created a new series of works on canvas for her latest exhibition.
The exhibition takes the viewer on a literal and artistic journey, charting the development of Gill's 'happy cells' which form the core of her current work.
Diagnosed HIV positive in 1989, Gill Hickman believed she would not survive past the year 2000. Twenty years on, she is very much alive: successful artist, mother of a healthy teenager and director of Skylark Galleries on the South Bank.
Her wholehearted change in lifestyle - leaving a stressful job as headteacher to embrace a life of art - has been central to Gill's continuing to lead a full and healthy life.
Long inspired by the way our bodies constantly renew and heal themselves, visualising 'happy, healthy cells' has been part of Gill's routine for years. As an artist however, the depiction of these cells came quite unconsciously.
Having explored textures and layers in her photos and embossed prints throughout her career, her first cell emerged in 2000 whilst working on her series of prints inspired by the five Chinese elements.
One of the first pieces the viewer encounters at Guy's Hospital, this work - Earth - was Gill's first move towards the symbolic whole of the circular form, having previously worked almost exclusively in a square format.
Taking the concept of the cell on to canvas, the happy cells have developed a life of their own, becoming more painterly and complex as textures evolved and Gill increasingly added other media - often in warm, rich golds - which represent the infinite dynamics of the millions of living cells we so take for granted.
The latest, large-scale canvases almost come full circle, leaning once again towards the elements - fire, water, earth, air - in palette.
The scale of these works brings a new dimension, however, with huge magnification of these normally invisible structures, surfaces take on the mystery and beauty of unknown planets: extraordinarily detailed living worlds in conversation with each other, a ceaseless positive motion from piece to piece.
To walk through the exhibition is to journey from a simple overview to a closer understanding of the power and beauty within our own bodies.
Related website: www.gillhickman.com