Rob Hilken is addicted to repetition. It is through his use of patterns, multiples of objects or repeated interactions that he explores themes such as popular culture or social behaviour. 

His multidisciplinary approach to art-making has traversed through works on paper, sculpture, and film, punctuated by gatherings, live events and performances. He explores ideas such as power, control and identity by making accessible works about everyday subjects such as local cuisine, shopping and religion. 

In 2012 Rob served up over 100 Ulster fry-ups in Ormeau Park as part of the Household Festival of Contemporary Art. He assembled a small team of chefs to cook and give away for free to an impromptu gathering of people. The feast became a space for conversation and a humourous way to explore national identity, a contentious subject matter in Belfast. 

His most recent body of work imagines a world where addiction, gambling and religion are understood as being different sides of the same story. The seemingly authentic works he has created make use of advertising techniques and semiotics to investigate power, control, greed and behaviour manipulation.

Going back to where this all began … at age 14 he was taken by his father to see ‘The Pop Art Show’ at the Royal Academy in London and it had a lasting impact on his view of art. Seeing Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes stacked in the gallery changed his idea of what art could be and has remained an important influence on his work ever since. It reinforces his view that art is for everyone and continues to inspire his use of references to popular culture that make his work accessible to all.

Selected Exhibitions & Commissions

  • August 2022 – It Could be You, Solo exhibition, Vault Artist Studios, Belfast
  • September 2021 – Array Collective, Turner Prize Exhibition, Coventry (nvited contributor)
  • January 2019 – Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, ‘Sparks’ (Curator)
  • December 2018 – Vault Artist Studios, Arts market (Performance)
  • September 2018 – Hit the North, Belfast
  • September 2017 – Hit the North, Belfast
  • August 2017 – Cootehill Arts Festival, Cootehill
  • August 2017 – Arcadian Field, Belurgan (Performance)
  • October 2016 – The MAC, Belfast
  • June 2016 – Bangor Castle Walled Garden, ‘ForM’
  • August 2015 – Taste of Cavan, ‘Ulster Fry Videos’
  • February 2015 – trans-art, Cavan, ‘Indecency’
  • May 2014 – Tools for Solidarity, Belfast, ‘Day Rave’
  • March 2014 – R-Space Gallery, Lisburn, ‘Repeat:Repeat’ (Curator)
  • November 2013 – Catalyst Arts, Belfast, ‘Forces’ (Curator)
  • August 2013 – Household, Ormeau Road, Belfast, ‘Once Upon a Time on the Ormeau Road’
  • October 2012 – Ulster Museum, Belfast, ‘Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition’
  • October 2012 – Block T, Dublin, ‘Divine Creation II’
  • August 2012 – Household, Ormeau Park, Belfast, ‘The Big Ormeau Fry Up’
  • August 2012 – PS2, Belfast, ‘PRIME Collective – Converge’
  • May 2012 – Catalyst Arts, Belfast, ‘Fifteen Over Eight’
  • October 2011 – Ulster Museum, Belfast. ‘Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition’
  • September 2011 – Catalyst Arts Project Space, Belfast. ‘Ulster Fry – A video installation with Gary Watson’
  • February 2011 – Catalyst Arts, Belfast. ‘Divine Creation’

Employment

  • Northern Ireland Manager, Visual Artists Ireland. 2014 – present
  • Office Manager, R-Space Gallery. 2013 – 2015
  • Co-Director, Catalyst Arts Gallery. 2012 – 2013