I am saddened today to hear of the death of the artist Susan Hiller, aged 78, after a short illness.
In June 2018 Camera Press sent me along to a press call for Artangel, on the promise that Jeremy Deller would be there to have his photo taken. This was to publicise a fund-raising auction. To my incredible delight, Susan Hiller was also there, having donated a jukebox filled with songs about London, where she lived for over 30 years. She was charismatic with long salt-and-pepper hair, a smart black jacket and neatly painted nails. She sat drinking a coffee and waiting for things to start, so I went over and said hello. She professed she hated having her photo taken, "because I'll look like I'm 105," but then immediately asked me what shots I needed to get and where did I need her to stand. She had no ego at all and was so helpful to me. She had a wide smile and round dark eyes -- it was obvious she would have been a great beauty when young but she had that special beauty that the best kind of women have when they age naturally and are confident in their lives and abilities.
In September last year I saw her again at a prize-giving at another art gallery. I reintroduced myself and she chatted to me and my friend for a while, making astute and rueful comments about the art world. After that I emailed her some of the photos, thinking an assistant might pass them on, but I got a personal reply from her saying, "Thank you very much for the photos which are not bad at all (I hate posing) in fact quite pleasant." That might sound like faint praise but I think it also speaks to her modesty and I felt honoured.
Her solo show at Tate Britain a few years ago was full of intriguing and curious works. If you can take some time to look up some examples of her work, it won't be time wasted.
Anna Watson: photographer, parent, juggler