Tony Hill’s work is renowned for its sculptural quality and for his ability to present the world in unique ways. He is particularly known for constructing bespoke camera rigs in order to achieve incredible special effects, long before the use of digital editing and computer aided cinematography.From the 6th – 9th October the director and filmmaker Tony Hill returned to the city of Hull where he was once a lecturer, as retrospective artist for Glimmer 2011

He took over both the live art space inside the Ferens Gallery and the Red Gallery with a series of exhibitions and installations. The Cornwall based artist screened a selection of his own films including the innovative Downside Up and the stunning Laws of Nature. Added to this retrospective look at his film was a screening of Carte Blanche films that had informed or inspired him in some way.

The Red Gallery, on Osborne Street in the city centre, is playing host to, ‘The Pool’ an experimental film-based installation. The work fills the room with under water visuals, as the image of a swimmer moves freely across the walls, released from the usual confines of the screen to exist in a new space. After staring at the moving image in the darkness of the studio space the effect is quite hypnotic. The visitors to the Red Gallery stood wide-eyed, speaking in whispers bathed in blue tones, as air bubbles, erupted from the centre of the image towards them.

The inside of the Live Art Space at the Ferens is filled with mechanical contraptions from the inventors’ age. Moving the giant mechanical arm resulted in an emotional response, there’s a feeling of panic that swells up inside as the camera almost hits the ceiling, then excitement as it swings wildly through the space. The screen to the right of the arm is recording in real time, giving the viewer an alternating reality from floor level to bird’s eye view.

Seeing the exhibition of bespoke camera rigs at the Ferens before the retrospective screening, gives an insight into how Tony creates some of the dizzyfying effects. With Downside Up from 1984, a favourite amongst the other filmmakers in the audience, Tony uses the mechanical arm to give a unique perspective of the world.

To begin the camera nestles in grass, and then the angle changes as if someone peering to see over rocks in the foreground, only to dive back down again. Then another foray into the scene and another, each time the angle changes, until the scene is revealed from every point on a 180 degree curve. As the camera moves unseen through the space, a unique view is revealed; rising and setting like the sun. Over a period of time this levering in and out of space quickens, making the screen feel like it is that, which is revolving and not the camera angle.

During Laws of Nature, from 1997,Tony explores classic English landscapes with a painter’s passion; majestic blue skies over verdant green hills; farmland and forest, are all given a sensuous filmic treatment. From someplace a sonorous voice emanates, singing an ode to Mother Nature; rich and deep, leaving you breathless and transported to a magical place.

More of Tony’s magician’s mind is revealed through a remarkable visual piece ‘Point Source’ first performed in 1973 involving a small light and assorted everyday objects.  By holding the individual objects to the light, mesh-like shadows are cast on the screen behind. With a deft hand movement, the shadows grow infinitesimally large, filling the vaulted ceilings of the Glimmer Cinema. All eyes look to the heavens as the shadowy construct threatens to cocoon us all. A different object results in an effect as if traveling through a giant matrix not unlike an early sci-fi movie effect. The audience sits, as if children once more, gazing in awe at the wondrous shadow play.

After the show someone remarked,” If I’m ever lost inside a giant wire basket I might not be in such a hurry to escape.”