Jane Hilton is renowned for her photographs based in the western parts of the United States where she documents the lifestyles of ordinary people with remarkable lives.
Drag Queen Cowboys (2020) is a collaboration with the vibrant community of performers based in Las Vegas and the portraits were taken just before the pandemic reached the USA in February 2020. Set in Nevada, and inspired by the locations and displacement of characters in John Houston’s film "The Misfits" (1961) with Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. All drag queens chose and painstakingly made their own ‘western’ outfits; including accessories, wigs and applying their own make-up. After gaining their trust, Hilton steered them away from their nocturnal habitat of bars and clubs. With no artificial lighting or digital technology, she shot these portraits on black and white film using a plate camera, with the natural light of the American West.
In L.A. Gun Club (2016), Hilton continues her exploration of American culture and Americana through one of the country’s most controversial pursuits. She visited the L.A. Gun Club in downtown Los Angeles and was captivated by the experience. She documented the remains of these unique ’shot' target posters that were made by a cross section of the community from a brain surgeon to a couple on a 'date night'.
Hilton has been photographing the American Western landscape since 2006. Her 2010 Dead Eagle Trail series captured vast spaces of cowboy country as she documented the cowboy lifestyle where the landscape is at the core. The cowboys were photographed in their own homes, which they have filled with accoutrements of their heritage and culture. They exhibit an impulse to collect and preserve their way of life as the ranches struggle to survive.
Hilton first encountered Madam Kitty’s Cathouse in 1998. In 2000 she was commissioned by the BBC to make ten documentary films in this brothel and the Moonlite Bunnyranch, both situated in Nevada, USA. For her 2013 exhibition Precious Hilton returned to the brothels of Nevada to create intimate nude portraits of working girls from the only state in America where prostitution is legal. The women are all from different cultural backgrounds and the variety of ages and body shapes represented challenge the traditional idea of beauty. Jane was privileged to stay in many of the brothels during this project and the trust and friendship this engendered is clear in the portraits.
Jane Hilton, photographer and filmmaker lives in London. Her work was recently featured in The Scarlett Muse, Daniel Cooney Gallery, New York (2016) and also included Eugene Atget, Brassai and Danny Fields. Her solo exhibitions include L.A. Gun Club, Eleven, London (2016), Precious, Eleven, London and Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York (2013). Dead Eagle Trail, Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York, LUX Gallery, Amsterdam, and Crane Kalman Gallery, Brighton (2011). Her work was featured in Knock Knock, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2013), Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, The National Portrait Gallery, London and The Art Gallery, Walsall (2010). Her documentary photography has been featured in major printed publications including The Telegraph, The Sunday Times and The Observer.