Creative Hero: Hilma af Klint

Geordie Bull

Many years before the famous birth of abstract art, a Swedish artist named Hilma af Klint began to create radically abstract works that had never been seen before. The year was 1906 and Hilma was part of an all-female group of artists who regularly conducted seances, conversing with spirits – one of which began to direct the style and themes of her paintings.

Hilma created 193 paintings between 1906-1915, explaining to those close to her that her pictures were not painted by her, but that she was directed by an unseen force. Sensing that the world was not ready for her work, she stipulated that her paintings not be shown until 20 years after her death. She continued to paint and store her huge canvases until she died at the age of 81, alone and penniless. Her work was not shown in public until 1986, when she began to garner interest.

This solitary artist has since been heralded the pioneer of abstraction. Her incredible paintings have the ability to reduce people to tears with their deep spirituality, connection to nature and colour.

Imagine the courage and fortitude required to see through your life’s work without any external acknowledgement or success? Imagine the internal commitment this woman made to obey her inner guides? This, to me, is the ultimate in creative bravery.