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Canadian artist and designer, Sabina Hill, creates art, interiors, limited edition furniture and custom textiles, which merge the rich mythology of the Pacific Northwest Coast with a contemporary design aesthetic. Born in Vancouver, BC, and descended from four generations of Pacific Coast Canadians, living between the forest and the sea, Sabina is inspired by her sense of place and tells a visual story through her innovative designs.
She spent part of her early childhood in Tahsis, BC, a remote area on the rugged West Coast of Vancouver Island that is rich in Native culture. Sabina was first introduced to Aboriginal art through her parents’ collection of Nuchatlaht baskets woven by a local First Nations woman. Captivated by their vibrant colours and motifs, they are now displayed in her home and are a reminder of the power of inspiration. As a young adult, she became interested in three dimensional and sculptural works, and completed her foundation year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Growing up, Sabina spent time at her family’s historic Yellow Point Lodge on Vancouver Island, exploring acres of pristine oceanfront. Her grandfather, Gerry Hill, built the lodge in the 1930s. Current owners, Richard and Sandi Hill, asked Sabina to design their Scout Point house, which was her first commission, and reaffirmed her belief that a site’s unique landscape is a rich source of inspiration.
Sabina holds degrees in environmental studies from the University of Manitoba and in architecture from the University of British Columbia. In 1993, she founded her multi-disciplinary studio with projects ranging from custom residential, interiors and renovations, to built-in furniture and landscape design.
She is deeply inspired by the natural world and the influence of First Nations people who have been expressing the spirit of the land through art for thousands of years. Her early place-based influences include architects, Arthur Erickson and Ron Thom, pioneers of the West Coast modern movement that embraced geographical and cultural context, and artists, Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt, whose paintings have included First Nations imagery and forms.
Seeking to create works with a distinctly Pacific Northwest Coast design aesthetic, Sabina began collaborating professionally with Aboriginal artists in 1998. These collaborations reflect an enduring legacy of exchange and cross-fertilization between artists. Her creations, presented through unique material combinations and leading-edge technologies, bring the ceremonial into daily life and celebrate the convergence of two distinct design cultures. Dr. George Macdonald, former president of the Bill Reid Foundation and director of the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies at Simon Fraser University, hails her work as “demonstrating the next phase in the development of Northwest Coast art and design.”
In her solo work, Sabina explores contemporary mythology through her personal mode of abstraction. Her complex tableau of organic designs expresses the language of modernism infused with a Pacific Northwest Coast regional character. With her background in relief printmaking and architecture, she has developed a keen understanding of positive and negative space, which are essential elements of Native art; she transforms these into solid and void in her 3-dimensional work.
Sabina is drawn to the symbolic mythology of the Northwest Coast art tradition, which reflects a shared connection to and a spiritual reverence for the natural world, depicted through animal motifs such as the whale, salmon, eagle, raven, wolf and frog. She has an appreciation for these designs, as well as the traditional objects in Native art with their emblematic and decorative features. Sabina integrates these organic forms into a rectilinear architectural framework, creating a fusion between these design elements in her multi-media artworks. Sabina’s signature style translates the visual language of the Northwest Coast art tradition into the laser-cut clarity of museum quality contemporary art, furniture and textiles.
Her work is recognized nationally and internationally in the permanent collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, and it has been commissioned by the Government of Canada for diplomatic premises abroad including Canada House High Commission in London, England, the Canadian Joint Delegation to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, the new Canadian consulate in Guangzhou, China, and the Official Residences in Berlin, Germany, and Barbados.
Born on Aug 20, 1960 in Vancouver, BC. Nationality is Canadian
1993 Bachelor of Architecture Degree with Honours, University of British Columbia, School of Architecture
1988 Bachelor of Environmental Studies Degree, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Architecture
1985 Vancouver Community College, Arts and Science Program
1984 Draftsperson I Certificate, Architecture, Process Piping and Materials Handling, Vancouver Vocational Institute
1979 Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, First Year Foundation
1978 Carson Graham Senior Secondary, High School Diploma
2008 Arthouse, Calgary, AB, Group Exhibition, Made in the West
2008 The Works, Edmonton, AB, Group Show, Art & Design Festival
2008 Sun Spirit Gallery, West Vancouver, BC, Solo Exhibition, Celebration
2008 University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, ON, Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design Exhibition
2008 The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, BC, Dwell Collection
2007 New Spirit Collection, The Inuit Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2005 Group Show, Building Elements III Metals, Architectural Institute of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
2005 Group Show, Through the Eyes of the Northwest Coast Woman, The Stonington Gallery, Seattle, WA
2005 Women's Exhibition, The Stonington Gallery, Seattle, WA
2005 Formlines, The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
2014 - Canada House, The Canadian High Commission, Trafalger Square, London, UK
2009 - Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON
The University of British Columbia, Oral Health Centre, Vancouver, BC
2003 Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC.(shortlisted along with former business partner)
1993 American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal and Certificate (Top ranked student of the graduating class).
1992 First Place, 4th Year Project Competition, Faculty of Engineering, University of British Columbia.
1991 American Architectural Institute Scholarship for Professional Degree Candidates
1990 Robert D. Firth Scholarship (awarded on the basis of high academic standing; ranked number 1 in first year class).
1990 Architectural Institute of British Columbia Scholarship)in recognition of high overall academic standing and development in design.
1988 Dean's Honour List, Third Year Environmental Studies, Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba
1986 Isbister Scholarship (for highest academic standing in first and second year Environmental Studies, Faculty of Architecture, University
1985 BC. Post Secondary Scholarship (for high scholastic achievement, Vancouver Community College).
2015 The Globe and Mail The Art of Decorating Canada House
2008 Globe & Mail, Best of the West, Toronto, ON
2008 Canadian Interiors Magazine, What’s Up Section, Beaver Tale, Toronto, ON
2008 Dream House Magazine, Coming Home, Vancouver, BC
2008 Vancouver Lifestyle Magazine, Making a Splash, Vancouver, BC
2008 Indulge Magazine, Inviting Design, Vancouver, BC
2008 Dream House Magazine, Artwork and interior design featured in virtual Summer Dream House edition, Vancouver, BC
2008 Look Magazine, Homegrown, North Vancouver, BC
2008 Home Makeover Magazine, New and Now, Vancouver, BC
2007 Trek Magazine, Profile, Vancouver, BC
2007 The Edmonton Journal, Urban Remedy The New Spirit
2005 Essential Vancouver, "Boundary Breakers", Vancouver, BC
2005 Galleries West, "Northwest Coast Art: At a Crossroads", Calgary, AB
2005 Where Magazine, "Art, on and off the wall", Vancouver, BC
2009 Danroth Residence, Vancouver, BC, Living room media wall
2009 Ashby Residence, West Vancouver, BC, Dining Table and Glass Feature Wall
2008 Cicuto Residence, Burnaby, BC, Wall Panel and Wine Room Door Panel
2008 Sharpe Residence, Calgary, AB, dining table
2008 The Sheraton, Victoria Gateway, Langford, BC, Four large scale mixed media installations for hotel lobby
2007 Webb Residence, Edmonton, AB, Partition Screens
2006-07 Conconi Residence, Vancouver, BC, Custom millwork, console & mirror, six mixed media panels
2005 Periera Residence, Saltspring Island, BC, Table
2003 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Vancouver, BC, Lobby Installation
2003 Kerfoot Residence, Whistler, BC, Multiple pieces integrated into architectural millwork (in collaboration with Stantec Architecture)
2001 Howland Residence, Bellevue, WA, Exterior Front Entry Door Panels
2001 Periera Residence, Saltspring Island, BC, Bed, Headboard and Table