For seven years, Angela Hill captured her young muse, Sylvia, at different moments of her adolescence.
Angela Hill is the co-founder of London's favourite independent bookstore IDEA. Alongside David Owen, she's been in the business of collecting and selling ultra-rare, ultra-out-there photo books since the late 1990s, when the pair were first enlisted to stock vintage tomes in the now-closed (but forever revolutionary) Colette store in Paris. These days, in addition to their incomparable offering of collectable books — stocked online and in Dover Street Market — the pair are also the minds behind some of the most spectacular new visual titles to have come out of the last decade. With a library of artists that includes Collier Schorr, Davide Sorrenti, Willy Vanderperre, Glen Luchford, and Nadia Lee Cohen in their publishing wing, it's fair to say that when it comes to photo books, no one's touching IDEA.
What some might not know about Angela, though, is that she's an incredibly gifted photographer herself. This month, after years of bringing other artists' books to life, she is at long last to release her first publication with her name on the cover. Titled Sylvia, the book in question is a tender years-long study of one girl, Sylvia Mann, who Angela photographed intermittently through the late 90s and early 00s for magazines like Dazed, EXIT, and Purple. Rendered in dreamy, pared-back portraits shot in her family home and the wild woodlands which surround it, the project charts Sylvia between the pivotal ages of 11 to 18, as she transforms from a child into a young woman. An exercise in pure photographic simplicity, the resulting book is a heartfelt document of girlhood and all its various phases of awkwardness, joy and self-discovery.
Angela's no bells and whistles approach to image-making is described best by artist Nadia Lee Cohen, who has published two perpetually sold out books with IDEA and authors the foreword to Sylvia. In it, she writes: "Angela Hill may not dress like a punk, but to me, she takes photos like one. Her team is non-existent, no make-up, lighting, styling, devoid of the usual paraphernalia. Angela just shows up with her camera, probably wearing a cap, jeans and maybe something from Hermès slung over her shoulder. What I'm trying to say is that Angela Hill isn't really a pre-planner, and to me, this is a magical fairy-like quality of which I am forever envious."