Symbol of hope

July 2, 2017

In 1996 Philippa and I made Snow Circle on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand.
The idea behind the sculpture was to refer to the need to shift to a circular regenerative economic model to become ecologically sustainable. To eliminate waste, flows of materials in the economy must circulate by becoming resources for something else, as in nature.

We spent a day piling and carving snow into a symbolic circle of life and photographed it with the volcanic peak of Mt Ngauruhoe beyond.

More than twenty years later Kate Raworth has drawn the same shape as the model for the economics we need for the 21st century to become safe, fair, destributive and regenerative.

Her briliant book Doughnut Economics eloquently describes how the old linear economic frame has failed us and how the safe and just place for humanity to flourish lies within a circle of life between ecological planetary boundaries and the social foundation of wellbeing – the space where we can meet the needs of all within the means of the planet.

If you believe that images can be powerful, memorable metaphors that people can use to create new meaning and as models to share new thinking, this book is recommended reading.

Vision for the future

June 27, 2017

Sky Stone Circle: This sculpure was made by floating pumice stones on the still surface of Lake Taupo in New Zealand in 1993. I wanted the stones to appear to float in the sky so I made the image without showing the surrounding landscape and focussed on the clouds reflected in the lake to achieve the impossible appearance of stones in the sky. I made the sculpture in order to refer to carbon in the atmosphere causing global warming. The circle refers to the design of a circular regenerative economy modeled on nature as its solution.

Here I am floating the volcanic pumice stones to make the sculpture in 1993

In the same year Paul Hawken’s breakthrough book The Ecology of Commerce was published, opening the world’s eyes to the potential of a regenerative economy. Now with an outstounding worldwide group of qualified scientists and researchers he has done it again with DRAWDOWN

The path to reversing global warming in thirty years is within our grasp. Drawdown is the point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline year by year. The Project Drawdown team over the past few years has identified, researched and modelled the hundred most substantive existing solutions to address climate change: “The task now is to accelerate the knowledge and growth of what is possible”.



“Is Nature Stable, Delicate or Random?”

April 24, 2017

Nine years ago Stone Circle was chosen for the cover of a Yale School of Forestry and Environment report titled “Toward a New Consciousness: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities.” Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication have chosen to use Stone Circle again for an online report they are releasing for Earth Day this week titled “Is Nature Stable, Delicate or Random?”

Here is the summary:

“Americans have diverse beliefs about the balance of nature – ranging from very stable, to very delicate, to random and unpredictable. Differences in these underlying mental models about the balance of nature are related to more specific beliefs about particular issues. For example, people who believe nature is very stable tend not to believe that global warming is happening, while people who believe nature is delicately balanced are much more likely to believe global warming is happening.

“Here we explore these deep underlying mental models of nature, how they influence global warming beliefs, and which demographic groups tend to prefer one model vs. another. The analysis comes from a nationally representative survey on the environment conducted in November, 2014 by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.”

The report should reach more than 100,000 social media followers.

The full report is available here


Synergy with Paris Opera

March 9, 2017

It is an honour that the Opera National de Paris have selected  “Synergy” to be presented as part of the on stage production of La Ronde by Philippe Boesmans opening November 2017

My photograph of the sculpture appears in the Operas 2017/18 season calendar here


Rich experiences

March 8, 2017

50 years ago today my friend Andy and I left UK on an overland journey to Everest, driving through the Middle East  and India in an ex army truck and walking from Katmandu to Mt Everest and back.

Last week I returned to serious mountaineering two years after double knee replacements, by soloing the Grand Traverse of the Remarkables 2000 metres above Queenstown with our friend Wendy. For me life is an adventurous journey and these two significant experiences separated by 50 years of living on the edge remind me how rich life can be without being rich.





Circular design goes mainstream

January 22, 2017

When I made Stone Circle in 1994 it was because I believe that sustainability will be achieved by ‘circular’ design.
I am delighted to announce that today the Circular Design Guide by the top international design company IDEO was launched at Davos, Switzerland.

This link takes you to: 

It offers a set of publicly-available, practical tools and methods to help innovators, entrepreneurs and designers to apply ‘circular’ design thinking – a new value creation lens through which to view products, services and systems that support the transition to a circular economy.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO says: “Transitioning to the circular economy is one of the most important design challenges of our time. For designers, it means rethinking traditional approaches and retraining in circular principles. This guide was created to provide the tools needed to move from ideas to action, creating solutions for the circular economy that give businesses a competitive edge and are regenerative for our world.”

Now there is no excuse for designing linear systems that continue to destroy our natural world or deplete resources and continue to cause climate change.

Congratulations to all involved especially Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDEO and McDonough & Braungart authors of Cradle to Cradle design published 2002, who brought circular design thinking to the forefront of design today.

Tamatea – Dusky Sound exhibition launch

December 7, 2016

In the summer of 2015 we were invited, along with ten other artists by DOC to take part in an extraordinary art and conservation residency in Dusky Sound, Fiordland. The journey, the wilderness environment, the experiences and the friendships we shared  were significant to us.

We chose to spend a week working alone on Resolution Island. Two of the resultant environmental sculpture photographs and a video are now part of the touring exhibition Tamatea – Art and Conservation in Dusky Sound which is to be officially launched in Invercargill: Southland Museum and Art Gallery, 17 December 2016 – February 19 2017.Antarctic sculpture 5 (7)


Tamatea – Art and Conservation in Dusky Sound has been developed by DOC in partnership with Te Rūnanga o Ōraka Aparima, and is supported by the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation.

River Guardian

September 22, 2016

Philippa Jones and Martin Hill

Protecting our rivers, the source of life, has become as urgent as protecting the air we breathe and the climate we rely on.

This is what inspired us to create River Guardian recently. The end-of-winter conditions mean that the daytime air temperature rises, causing mist to swirl just above the cold surface of the water. We thought this would be an eerie setting for a temporary installation.


We made the Guardian by first constructing a strong framework of branches – cuttings from the regular trimming of the thriving native kanuka trees where we live. As we attached more branches we could trim it to the shape we wanted. We wheeled it down to the river and wearing waders we experimented by installing it at different spots and waited patiently for the mist to flow along the river.river-guardian-philippa-installingThe source of the mighty Clutha River is Lake Wanaka. It carries a huge flow of water from the great mountains and glaciers of the Southern Alps.

Rivers are the arteries of the land and are vital to the health of ecosystems, to the species who have flourished in these habitats and to the people who rely on them for drinking water and recreation. The sculpture is intended to symbolise the need to watch over and protect the river.river-guardianmartin

In our region of Wanaka in Central Otago, New Zealand there is much discussion about protecting the water table, rivers and lakes from the increase in habitation and industrial agriculture, particularly conversion of farms to intensive dairy farming using pivot irrigation, imported feed stock with little management of the resulting effluent.

The push for more economic growth at the expense of the environment and water quality has led to dramatic decline in water quality in many rivers and lakes in other lowland parts of New Zealand. Now there is danger to the water systems of our once pristine highland water catchments.


ArtBio Brazil: an interview

July 15, 2016

ArtBio is a Brazilian web based nonprofit organisation that develops science communication projects and promotes cultural and educational activities to share knowledge through art.

ArtBio published Shadow of Man, (below) made on Ross Island Antarctica in 2014 with the support of Antarctica New Zealand.

martin hill1

Interview with ArtBio Brazil’s Jade Kastrup:

ArtBio: The famous phrase of Lavousier “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes” is perhaps the best definition of the cyclical processes of nature. These days, where does humanity fit in these processes?

Martin Hill: Humanity is intimately part of nature. Humans are animals with large brains and it has given us an advantage over all other species to over exploit our ecological niche, which we have, during the past few hundred years, expanded to include the whole biosphere.

Since nature operates cyclically in a closed system with only sunlight added, humans must either abide by the same cyclical operating principles or destroy the natural systems on which we rely with our linear systems. At present the human ecological footprint is outstripping ecological resources by a factor of three.

ArtBio: Your striking sculptures are almost always ephemeral, produced with ice, branches, leaves, sticks and stones, and installed in sparsely populated areas. The photograph allows immortalization of your work, seen in person by few. In a world where we are all photographers from social networks, in your opinion, what is the main role of photography?

Martin Hill: I use photography in my art practice to document my ephemeral sculptures. I believe photography is a communication medium through which artists can express ideas and emotions that cannot be communicated as well by other mediums. Although the camera can lie, it has the ability to document reality and show us ourselves and our relationships with each other and nature in the most powerful ways in the hands of a good photographer. Now that photography has come to be placed in the hands of us all, to access its power we must be more responsible, more creative and more discerning in making images and in viewing them.

ArtBio: A recent survey conducted by Ibope at the request of WWF, indicates that, for 58% of Brazilians, the natural wealth of Brazil is the biggest reason of national pride. At the same time, of 10 respondents, eight consider that nature is not adequately protected. However, environmental issues are left out of electoral debates and some influential people think that environmentalists are fanatics who exchange facts for beliefs. What do you think about that?

Martin Hill: The general public is obviously concerned about the environment and the ecological destruction it is witnessing. If this is left out of political debates it is because the rich elite with vested interest in the industries that are causing the destruction are allowed the power to influence the debate. In many cases around the world these vested interests misrepresent scientific facts and deny the damaging effects of their industries on ecology, people and climate. The extractive industries are clever at misrepresenting the need for ecological and climate protection by denying scientific facts in favour of their non scientific beliefs.

This interview is one in a series of interviews titled “Antropocena” in which contemporary artists and researchers discuss the marks of human activity on Earth and rethink the ways of humanity.!3–martin-hill/c1dso



Gold award won in international award

June 12, 2016





My series of land art photographs The Guardians has won 1st prize in the Conceptual category in FAPA, the International Fine Art Awards. FAPA received almost 4000 submissions from 83 countries around the world. Winners were selected by a panel of international judges, including Qingjun Huang, Carolyn Guild, Klaus Kampert, Pini Hamou, Rupert Vandervell, Pongsatorn Sukhum, Kilian Schönberger, Peter Kool, Lara Zankoul and GMB Akash.

The second series I entered In Search of Synergy was shortlisted as a nominee for the same category, Conceptual.

Philippa and I are honoured that our sculptures and my photographs are recognised by these international professional judges. We hope this recognition will help to spread our work and ideas to an ever larger international audience.