By Megan Devine
Westgate Galleria is featuring a new artist with Judith Hill’s first summer art exhibition in Thanet.
A lover of nature and travel, the Broadstairs artist used her time during the global pandemic to pursue her passion for art and has already exhibited her works in AppArt in Godalming, Surrey, The Margate School, and East Kent Open Studios.
Judith works out of her studio Whitewalls, with her art covering a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, and charcoal.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with her during her busy schedule to throw a spotlight on her work.
Judith comes from a family of creatives, with many of her family members being interested in one form of art or another. Her grandfather had a love for painting watercolours, while her father was both a lithographic artist and a keen photographer.
She discovered her love for art at a young age. Her parents used to tell her how, when she was around three years old, they had just redecorated the bathroom and she decided to join in the efforts by attempting to paint the walls with her mother’s red nail polish. Judith joked: “I guess there’s always been an enjoyment of putting paint on things.”
At the age of 11, Judith was gifted her first camera and she’s been taking photos ever since. She still has some of the first pictures she took during a family trip to Italy. Judith painted and sketched for much of her childhood, even after the tragic loss of her father when she was just 12.
Prior to pursuing art full-time, Judith had a long and varied career. She has worked as a secretary for London newspapers, becoming an executive PA for the managing editor of the Daily Mail, as well as working for the editor of You magazine, Eve Pollard.
Judith went on to marry and have two sons and then took a short career break, during which she studied interior design. On the course, she met and befriended Lady Caroline Waters with the two becoming partners for their own business after they graduated.
After two years Lady Caroline relocated to Florida, which put a natural end to their business.
Judith moved to working in theatre for a short time, before taking a role as a consultant for various charities for the next 15 years. During that time, she separated from her husband and juggled her full-time career, whilst taking care of her children.
Eight years ago, Judith relocated with her partner Tony and her dog, Lulu, from London to Broadstairs to help her mother support her ill stepfather. Sadly, her stepfather passed less than a year after their move, Her mother moved to a retirement home and passed in October 2022. Judith said: “That was quite a tough time in our lives.”
When the pandemic hit, it made Judith aware of just how suddenly things can change. She said: “You don’t know what’s around the corner or how long you’ve got”. Like a lot of people during the pandemic, she started to think, “What was important to me? What should I be doing?” and began to reprioritise her life.
Judith felt that if she wanted to follow her dreams: “I’d better crack on because I haven’t got forever.”
She attended an art course with Kent Adult Education at Broadstairs College, exploring various techniques and expanding her artistic toolsets. Though Judith uses an assortment of mediums for her art, her favourite to work with is acrylic and charcoal, with landscapes, portraits, and seascapes being the main focus of her pieces.
After the course was completed, she and a core group of her class continued painting together via Zoom during the lockdown. Her tutor still continues to provide support for the group, and they all enjoy meeting so that they chat and work together.
Judith’s partner has also been very supportive of her dream, even when she slowly started taking over their dining room with all of her many projects and materials. Eventually, the two converted their outbuilding from a storage room, into an art studio for Judith’s work.
Part of Judith’s creative process is finding the perfect shot for her paintings. She always keeps an eye out for photo opportunities, even with she’s just out and about walking her dog along the beach. She said: “Even though you might walk the same path, there are always different things to see or different things happening.”
Judith travels a lot, taking hundreds of photos wherever she goes, which will more often than not, motivate her to create a new painting.
In fact, part of the work she has included in her upcoming exhibition at Westgate Galleria is a series of paintings inspired by photos she took during a recent trip to Santorini, such as one from having breakfast while overlooking the Caldera one morning, and another of a view from inside a church looking out.
Judith says the aim of her work is to lift the mood and spirit, saying she dislikes politically motivated work or art that depicts sad topics, because: “there’s enough grimness going on in the world without burying yourself in more unhappiness, sadness or heartbreak.” She prefers to create happy and bright pieces, with the hope that her art will be a joy to others.
Her favourite piece of the work she’s created so far is a still life from one of the classes she took, where she was allowed to choose her own composition and subject matter. The subjects for that piece were aubergines, eggs, and smoked garlic.
Judith said she loves the colour of aubergines and how “they always looked like they’ve just been polished”.
Judith’s advice for beginner artists is: “Give it a go. In art everyone is different. Just because I like one type of art, doesn’t mean another type is wrong or not worthy.”
“Don’t put yourself in a box. Someone out there will enjoy what you’re creating. It is never too late to try. What have you got to lose really?”
When and where to see Judith’s exhibition
Judith’s work is on display at Westgate Galleria in Station Road from July 1-July 26, 10am – 5pm. A private view event takes place tonight (June 30) from 6pm- 8pm.
Interested in getting started in art? Check out Kent Adult Education for lessons in art and more; https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/courses
Megan Devine is a creative writing and journalism student at Canterbury College currently undertaking work experience with The Isle of Thanet News.