Sonja Hillen

Sonja Hillen

Nijmegen, Netherlands

About Sonja Hillen

1964,Gaanderen, the Netherlands

"The use of textile, knitting and embroidery, as used here, is often surrounded by a sensitive, tactile and even a vulnerable atmosphere, often associated with femininity. The combination of these materials results in ‘mixed media’, in which household materials, related to everyday life, play the leading role.
Consequently, this work encompasses both a tenderness and a fragility in its appearance, yet because it is firmly grounded in the 'temporality', the 'soberness' and the 'tragedy’ of existence, it never becomes shallow or sentimental. On the contrary, this art has an extraordinarily gripping resonance. "(text: Daan Van Speybroeck).

In both my two- and three-dimensional work, I use textile in a combination with drawing as well as embroidery. Working with textile and embroidery comes naturally to me as I was introduced to if at a very young age. However, it has not been a deliberate choice to use these materials in my art. Slowly but surely I grew towards them, and now these are the materials I enjoy working with the most. The creative process moves at a slow pace, step by step, and demands lots of patience. Yet, this also provides me with the advantage of being able to adjust and steer my ideas.

My work is about everyday life, happiness and hardships. It concerns the events and things that have happened and are happening in my life and in the lives of many others as well. Like a musician writes her songs, I imagine. The project I am currently working on is titled ‘To the heartland’, it is about the place where I want to be. It starts at the origin, with my father and my mother, and then follows a path, not necessarily chronologically, along many places and side roads. This could be an actual place and path, but also a place and journey that just exists in my mind and my heart. Will I ever find the place where I want to be at the location of my dreams? Or does the actual location have little to do with it? Will I ever find my place at all and will my journey in search of it and my project ever end? It is an invisible presence of indefinable melancholy and a search for something I have no memory of. It is a form of homesickness, nostalgia with a not identifiable origin.


Nieuwe Akademie Utrecht, NL, 1999-2004
Masterclass Rosemin Hendriks, 29 + 30 juni, Ateliers Westerdok in Amsterdam, NL, 2019
Drawing Inventions Academy, DIA, Master in drawing, Amsterdam, NL, 2020


Artist Support Pledge, De Balie in Amsterdam, NL
“Art in the time of Coronavirus & Social Distancing”, online exhibit, Lyon, F
“Grootse kunst, fijne prijzen”, Kunstinitiatief De Nieuwe Gang, Beuningen, NL
Art Festival 2019 – Fakeart | an art zine with a twist, USA
FakeArt issue 2, Your first and your last, 2 pagina’s, USA
“Dialogen #6”, met Dalila Ammar, tentoonstelling en artist-talk, De Nieuwe Gang, Beuningen, NL
“Kunstenaarsboeken-Boekenkunst”, Kunsthal 45, Den Helder, NL
“De Moeder De Vrouw”, WG Kunst, Amsterdam, NL
Artist in residence and Open Ateliers in ArToll, Bedburg Hau, Germany in January
Solo-tentoonstelling HAN, B-gebouw, faculteit GGM, Nijmegen, NL
“99 + 1, revisited”, De Nieuwe Gang, Beuningen, NL
“99 + 1, kunst van eigen bodem”, Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen, NL
“Heelmeesters 2018”, Stadsmuseum Harderwijk, Harderwijk, NL
“Het Haperende Lichaam”, CBKZuidoost, Amsterdam, NL
“Plaatsen die verhalen worden | Twaalf kunstenaars in woord en beeld”, Kunstmagazijn, Nijmegen, NL
“Tekenkabinet", Museum Waterland, Purmerend + Amstelpark, Amsterdam, NL
"Soft Sculpture/Hard Thoughts", Suluj Galery, Belgrado, Serbia
"Contextile 2016", Textile Art Biennial Guimarães, Portugal
"Loop tussen Nijmeegse kunst naar de Vierdaagse", Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen, NL
“Neuro Art” Radboud Research Night in Lux, Nijmegen. Vanaf 14/9 te zien in Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen van de Radboud Universiteit. NL
“BYOAP” Bring your own art party, GBK, Luxor LIve, Arnhem, NL
“Show what you want show”, presentatie 1e magazine Platform Platvorm en tentoonstelling bij Bart Invites, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Groupexhibition
“Sloot”, Museum Opsterlân, Gorredijk, The Netherlands, Groupexhibition
“Huntenkunst”, SSP-hal op DRU Industriepark, Ulft, The Netherlands, Artfair
“Textielfestival”, Wedstrijd Water-Land, Pieterskerk, Leiden, The Netherlands
5th Riga International Textile and Fibre Art Triennial Tradition and Innovation on the theme: DIVERSITY&UNITY! , Riga, Latvia
"Mooie Oda", Maria, Wonder Woman en Mooie Oda, Odapark, Venray, the Netherlands
Artikel 27 "Schatkamers van migratie", Heusden-Zolder, België
“Derwent art prize”, Mall Galeries in Londen, Engeland
“The Big Draw”, International drawing happening, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
“Huntenkunst”, SSP-hal on DRU Industriepark, Ulft, the Netherlands
Art Fair
“Zoete Moeder”, in het Mariapaviljoen, Den Bosch, the Netherlands
Solo Exhibition
“PIEP zei de muis, in het voorhuis”, Groesbeekseweg 177, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Group Exhibition composite by Frans van Tartwijk en Guda Koster
“Winterateliers” ArToll, Bedburg Hau, Duitsland. Artist in residence in januari
"Ambachten XL”, summer and autumn 2013. A project by Cultuurpact Veluwe carried out by Gelders Erfgoed en Kunst and Cultuur Gelderland (KCG) in conjunction with KUNSTwerkt. The Netherlands Participation as artistcoach.
"Kunst op de Koffie”, livingroom galleries in the Spijkerkwartier in Arnhem, the Netherlands
with auction and print made by Plaatsmaken.
Group Exhibition
"Zeep Zoo",project in 1 dag day around De Zeepfabriek in Bottendaal, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Group Exhibition
"Textielleeft”, Exhibition in Drenthe organized by Stichting Aelder Hooghe Kunsten en Stichting Kunstdorp Zweelo, the Netherlands
Group Exhibition
“6th International mini textile exhibition Ukraine”, Kherson, Ukraine
Group Exhibition
"Open Ateliers", ArToll, Bedburg Hau, Germany
Artist in residence in the month December (
Group Exhibition
"Wegens persoonlijke omstandigheden", Showroom, Arnhem, the Netherlands
Autumn-themed exhibition by GBK
The exhibition was curated and organized by
Sonja Hillen (concept), Anneke Ingwersen and July Leesberg.
In collaboration with Marten Hendriks and René van Corven.