AKA: Christine Alexander
Born: 1948 Hobart
Christine (Kit) is the middle child and only daughter of Ross Alexander and Cynthia Johnson. Ross was a Mechanical Engineer and Cynthia prior to her marriage had been at University and during the war was in the Army.
Kit received both her Primary and Secondary Education at a Quaker School "The Friends" in Hobart, though the majority of the students were not actual Quakers as such. Cynthia had been a student at "Clemes" College which was the fore runner to the "friends". It was at that time the only private school in Tasmania that was co-educational. A teacher that remains memorable for Kit was one Rosiland Martin who was an excellent History of Art teacher and was very encouraging with her.
When asking Kit the usual question - how long have you been interested in Art? The reply was the same as all the other artists: I've always been interested it's always been the one thing that I felt I was good at, I did it all through School and when I left I went straight to Art School".
Kit went on to the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart and studied there from 1966 to 1968 graduating with an Art Teachers qualification. She there met Eric Ralph Hiller whom she married in 1971. Another of her contemporaries was Geoff Dyer a successful artist in Tasmania today.
Kit as with many other artists, found "Cezanne" to be a great source of inspiration had has stated: "Cezanne was an isolated person who simply pursued his one thing. He strove to do what he believed was right".
From 1969-1972 Kit taught at Burnie High School and stopped, to have and raise her children. Eric and Kit have a daughter Bridget who is presently at Uni in Hobart and two sons, Patrick and Michael who are still at home.
They live at lower Mount Hicks, "sort of behind Wynyard", one journalist has described their home as a "rambling old farmhouse" and yet another a "timber cottage". In my view it appears to be a comfortable, cosy older style house. The Hiller's bought the property more so because of the lovely rambling garden rather than what the house had to offer. The house is named "Hambledon" after the reputed birthplace of cricket.
Eric Hillerois totally supportive of Kit's commitment to her work and has been quoted by Fiona Whittle in "good housekeeping" of June 1989 - "He'd rather see Kit painting than cooking or cleaning, and in the winter edition of "Leatherwood" 1992 Lindsay Broughton states; "husband Eric is a painter himself, though very much of the closet variety. he also is the long-time slightly eccentric, but highly respect Head of the Art Department as Burnie's Hellyer College". Kit recognizes and derives strength from Eric's support and is fortunate to be receiving such unconditional encouragement.
Kit learned Linocut Printing at Art School, but didn't resume that medium until she had ceased teaching at Burnie High. Kit recalls:
"One day I just did a lino cut and enjoyed doing it, so I've just kept doing it ever since".
With three young children, Kit set about her art. Mindful of the pitfalls of having substances around Kit made the decision to use watercolours and turned her hand to portraiture. Kit is now a highly acclaimed and recognized portrait painter and has won the coveted Portia Geach Memorial Prize for Australian women artists two years running (1986/87). Her work has also been hung five times in the Archibald Prize for Portraiture.
Kit acknowledges that it has been difficult with young children but by the same token stated; "if you really want to do something, then you find the time".
Over the past fifteen years, Kit has produced several series of
lino cuts each on a particular theme - sometimes using elimination block process - other times the usual linocut then water-colouring the print. "I can play around more freely with colour and pattern and composition" .
One series of w/c block lino cuts solely focused on Cradle Mountain National Park, subsequently showing the prints at a successful solo exhibition at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre Gallery.
Some years ago Kit read a book about Frida Kahlo, wife of Mexican social realist painter Diego Rivera, which led Kit to realize what a wonderful artist Frida was in her own right.
Kit was so enthused by it all that she went into her Frida Kahlo/Mexican phase. During the late 1980s she incorporated numerous Mexican subjects and motifs into her prints and portraits, culminating in a spectacular exhibition at the Devonport Gallery and Arts Centre. The space was adorned with candlesticks, madonnas, sombreros, etc. and even a life sized paper mache "Pedro". The humour of it all plus the decorations only added to the quality of Kit's works. Her Mexican phase is over. She had even learnt Spanish at the Burnie Adult Education Centre.
Kit prefers to work alone. She knows where she's at is evidenced from her lino cuts. I can't comment on her portraits as I haven't seen them, but from those that have, she receives national acclaim.
Kit has been exhibiting since 1982. She has had ten solo shows and has participated in numerous groups shows.
She is represented; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Burnie Art Gallery, Devonport Gallery and Arts Centre. Robert-Holmes-A-Court Collection, Perth.
In 1987, Tasmania bestowed on their favourite daughter the title of "Tasmanian of the Year" in recognition of her achievements.
Christine Miller displays a talent that is worthy of national recognition and the curator of the Robert Holmes A Court collection would obviously endorse that notion.
Source: Christine Hiller