Interiors: Photographer Jane Hilton brings a bit of the Wild West to Archway
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 March 2015
Jane Hilton’s home may lie in a quiet corner of Archway, but step inside and it feels like you’ve crossed the pond and landed in the American West.
The acclaimed photographer discovered a passion for the country on a trip to Arizona in 1988 and has since returned numerous times to photograph and film its people and landscapes. It is the cowboy states that really fascinate Hilton – something which is clearly reflected in the two storey house she shares with her partner Nick Lee and four-year-old son Johnny.
Hilton had spent “several years” searching for a building that could offer both a work and living space, when in 2000 an estate agent told her about a warehouse for sale. Built around the late 18th or early 19th century, the building, which included a number of garages, had originally been used as stables, and later housed a metal works.
Despite having no planning permission to convert the warehouse into a home, Hilton decided to buy the buildings. “Luckily I was granted planning permission,” she explains, “but when I started the process of finding a builder to do the works, the BBC sent me to America for a year to film a documentary. When I returned the builders’ quotes had gone up and I could no longer afford it.”
Hilton put the place on the market, but soon learnt she would probably make a loss.
“I thought this is ridiculous – I’m not prepared to lose money, so I decided to keep it and do the works bit by bit. It would have been cheaper to implode the buildings and start from scratch but I didn’t want to do that. We finally moved in around two and a half years later.”
The former classical musician had initially planned to go for a more contemporary look, but discovered the fixtures and fittings for what she had envisaged were out of her budget.
“In the end I went for something very eclectic,” she says. “The ground floor, where we have the kitchen and living area, has a bit of a Palm Springs feel to it, with a flagstone floor, cow hide cushions and rugs, and one side of the room is glazed letting in lots of light. There’s also a snug area for my collection of Western belt buckles, cowboy boots and Stetsons.”
Upstairs is more “French farm house” says Hilton, with rustic looking doors, white painted floorboards and fresco pitted walls.
“The first floor is quite neutral as we hire it out for various shoots. We can’t put much on the wall for example, as it needs to be a blank canvas. There’s a fantastic large room with lots of natural light that I use as my studio when it’s not hired out.”
Asked if she has a favourite room in the house, the photographer smiles: “Definitely the bathroom. It has the most beautiful light, and a great comfy chair. I often just sit and read a book there. It’s so lovely and peaceful.”
Hilton says it’s important her rooms have character and tell you something about the people living there.
“It seems very popular at the moment to make your home look like a hotel,” she adds, “which means everyone ends up with their homes looking very similar. I think where you live should reflect who you are. I hope that my house expresses a little bit of me.”
To see Hilton’s work go to her website janehilton.com. Her latest book, Precious, a collection of intimate photos of women who work in Nevada brothels, is published by Schilt Publishing.