The story of how I found my Dalilla

Life, Painting

Bless me, friends, for I have sinned. It’s been seven years since my last painting. 🙂

Seven years ago I made a painting inspired by a strong and artistic young woman. The painting turned out to be the best I had ever made. It felt the closest I had ever gotten to my truth. Lena was perfect. The problem is, I suffer from perfectionism. Lena was so perfect that I was terrified to start a new painting. What if it wasn’t as good as her? I never knew exactly where my paintings came from, they just came. What if Lena was a fluke? If I made a new painting, and it wasn’t as good, that would be proof that I actually couldn’t paint, just got lucky sometimes. And so I stopped. It wasn’t a decision that happened one day, I just slid further and further away from it each day. Going through a few years of depression pushed the paint brush further from my hand. And losing my paintings pushed me further into the darkness.

Lena, 2011

Last summer, for the first time in years, I saw a painting in my mind. She was beautiful, and I knew how to paint her. In June I drew her lines on my canvas, and 9 months later I welcomed my new baby. Baby Dalilla painting, who shares her birthday with the woman who inspired her.

For those of you living in Ireland or under a rock, allow me to introduce Dalilla Hermans.

Dalilla’s smile holds amazing power, luckily for us, she smiles constantly. Even having this painting in my room for the last 9 months has given me strength.
Almost everyone I know is thinking about writing a book, last year Dalilla published what she describes as “her first book”. At Charlie Magazine she has a platform to publish her skillfully composed articles. She is invited to speak at schools, conferences, tv debate panels and to give her opinion in newspapers. She was the most Googled person in Belgium in 2017, not to forget that she got to the final of a tv quiz show called “The smartest person in the world”. She is relationship goals. Dalilla and Willem are parenting goals. Their three beautiful babies, offspring goals.

Her life could be considered perfect.

Oh, but Dalilla has black skin. Before she shares her creativity, people already think that she is angry, unintelligent, unreasonable, overly emotional, that she’s wild and that she snores. For some, her skin colour is reason for abuse and hate. They crawl behind their computer and write that the world would be a better place if her and her kids were dead. I will not give them too much airspace. I just ask you to realise, if you admire Dalilla’s strength, her voice, her joyful presence, you can multiply your admiration by 100 because she deserves it.

Dalilla is an inspiration to me. After seven years missing a piece of my heart, Dalilla was the person who unlocked it again. This time I’m not letting go. I am learning to reject doubt, fear and any other poisonous liars. I am learning to know myself. I am learning to see, feel, and hold on to the beauty and love in every person I meet. I’m learning to recognise and appreciate my passions and to give them space, to give myself space.

It feels good to be back.
May I present to you; my Dalilla…

Thank you Dalilla.

Earring study for this painting


Baby Shaped Hole


Baby Shaped Hole
August 2008
Acrylic on canvas 60x80cm (Sold)

“One morning I awoke and understood the hole in the middle of me. I realised that I could compromise my life, but not the life after me. I couldn’t explain it. The need came before explanations.”
“I needed a child”

Quote from “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” by Jonathon Safran Foer

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Do you mean ‘seriously hilary the painter’?

Life, Painting

I used to know who I was. It was easy. hilary is a painter. hilary is ‘seriously hilary’. ‘seriously hilary the painter’

I imagined ‘seriously hilary’ into existence without any notion of what she would become. Seriously hilary was an email address hastily created in order to receive some serious files. As for the small ‘h’, I decided that my name was mine. I would decide if it followed grammar rules. I refused to allow society to decide what my name, my identity, should look like. Also, I thought a small ’h’ was prettier.

Making art has always been a part of me. I loved art class in school. Melrose Place on TV in the background, I filled my evenings with drawing and painting. I painted some rather excellent giraffes, shoes and cabbage leaves in those years.

It took a tragedy to shake the real paintings out of me. When I was 21 I lost my boyfriend to suicide. My feelings manifested themselves as paintings. This was the first time a painting came from within. From my heart. My crushed broken heart.


It is important to me to write the story of each painting. I want people to feel my paintings. I want people be comforted by knowing someone else shared their feelings. I want them to feel less alone. I want to be a force for positivity in the world. I want to make people feel loved and understood.

One lady told me that this painting perfectly expressed how she felt after her divorce. So maybe I achieved what I wanted to. Maybe I did contribute something positive to the world.

“People often unaware of their potential. People get dragged down by negative attitudes. They stop believing that they are worth anything. This painting came with the realisation that I had gotten dragged down by misery and pain. Talking with close friends made me realise that there was a beautiful bright shining happy person inside me. I needed to fight for her survival. The painting shows the dark unhappy shell that I was buried in. The goodness inside shining a light to show me that things could be better. It is still a struggle some days but it’s worth fighting for. Everyone should feel proud of themselves.

“It is easy, terribly easy, to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work. Take care of what you are doing. Take care.” George Bernard Shaw”

Following a whirlwind romance to Belgium I started working on my first solo exhibition. I transformed our tiny kitchen into a painting studio. I never consciously designed my paintings. They just came to me. Triggered by a feeling, an emotion, a thought, an experience, a book or a memory I wanted to hold on to forever.

It wasn’t always easy. Some days nothing came. Then I curled up on the sofa and put on my mums’ video cassettes of E.R.. I couldn’t try to create something. That was a waste of time. This resulted in forced, fake, awful paintings that made me question my talent. So I would wait, and after a while I would see or hear something that would flick the switch and there it was, a new painting.


It could come from a sentence in a book.

“One morning I awoke and understood the hole in the middle of me. I realised that I could compromise my life, but not the life after me.
I couldn’t explain it. The need came before explanations.”

”I needed a child”
From “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” by Jonathon Safran Foer

It could come from a lyric of a song I have heard hundreds of times but for some reason on that particular day you saw it as a painting.

“Here comes a girl with long brown hair who can’t be more than seventeen. She sucks on a red popsicle while she pushes a baby girl in a pink carriage and I’m thinking that must be her sister, that must be her sister, right?
That must be her sister, right?
They go into the 7-11 and I keep

In the years that followed I had exhibitions in Belgium and Ireland. One of my paintings featured on a CD cover. One traveled to Sicily for a group show. Three were reproduced on a huge scale for a show in China. I took part in the yearly Open Studio event in Antwerp. The city commissioned a seriously hilary Mermaid mural. People continued to show the connection they felt with my work by buying it to hang in their home. It was going well for ‘seriously hilary the painter’.


This is Lena, my favorite creation. I had not painted for a while. I worried that painting had left me. Lena came to me from a friend’s black and white bathroom selfie on facebook. Scrolling endlessly and in a flash, there it was in my mind, my finished Lena painting. I have never been so satisfied with a painting as I was with this one. It turned out so much better than I could have ever hoped. It really felt like the painting used me to create itself, but we’ll talk about my imposter syndrome in another session doctor. 😉


And then it was gone.

My art.

My ‘talent’.

My identity as a painter.


I get a heavy feeling in my chest as I write this. It has been four years since I have picked up a paintbrush. Four years since a painting has come to rest in my heart and make me paint it. It hurts. I tell people I’m too busy. I brush off their questions (pun not intended). The truth is, it has left me and I don’t know where it has gone. How can you make something come back if you never knew where it came from in the first place?

I took up sewing. Something creative that involves following instructions. It does not require my inspiration as a first step. I enjoy sewing but it feels a little empty compared to the love I felt creating my own paintings. Making a one-of-a-kind cute dress is great, but it doesn’t come close to the high of creating an idea, a feeling, that previously didn’t exist. Something that can touch people’s hearts and make them feel less alone, make them see that I have felt the same as them.

So, who is hilary? I don’t know the answer right now. I miss being ‘seriously hilary the painter’ but being ‘hilary the Charlie’ feels pretty damn good right now.

cadix 20102

Why to Love Walter Van Beirendonck’s Designs

Life, Painting, Sewing

The one and only designer dress I own is a 2009 Walter Van Beirendonck, and the reason I could afford (or pretend to afford) this particular dress has a lot to do with the ideals surrounding the Belgian fashion designer’s work. There are three main reasons I am attracted to his clothes: Firstly, it is fashion with a moral message — his apparel resonates statements that are anti-violence, anti-racism, pro-environment, pro-hope, pro-love; so what’s not to swoon over? Secondly, he releases ranges that actually are affordable because he wants his designs to be accessible to a young audience. And thirdly, he loves colors as much as I do! Unfortunately for me though, he hardly ever designs for women — all the more reason to jump for joy when I heard he had designed a dress that would cost just $70.

Van Beirendonck lives in the same city as me, and in the 9 years that I’ve lived in Antwerp, there is one day that has a special place in my memory: The day he and I were walking on the same street at the same time. I know I sound like a silly fangirl, but there was something special and mesmerizing about his presence. The day he passed me in the street (he passed me because I was frozen to the spot in awe) he was wearing a mint colored quilted suit and there was a wonderful cloud of fragrance trailing after him. It was like a dream smell of flowers and baby powder. I did a bit of research into this suit, and I guess it was a relative of this seafoam quilted jacket. In any case, it was a spellbinding appearance in my otherwise humdrum day. And solidified the many reasons Van Beirendonck is worthy of my adoration.


I need to be very careful about when I choose to wear my fabulous Van Beirendonck as it is made of paper! So it’s definitely not an option if there is any chance of rain, or if I’m planning to cycle, or if there is any danger of anyone spilling drinks in my vicinity (that means no children or drunk people — possibly just no drinks at all). The last time I wore it was to the opening of an art exhibition at which I showed a few paintings. There was a little wine involved, but visiting an art gallery is usually a pretty civilized affair, so not much danger of spillage!

So let me tell you a little more about this fabulous dress. First of all, it is decorated with penises — lots of them! It is a wonderful feeling to walk around wearing a dress covered in genitalia that people only notice if they look really closely at the design. Van Bierendonck is a bear of a man, both in physical appearance and in name, and I love that he uses the image of the animal in his work. There’s a feeling of fun freedom to someone who is doing what they want to do and saying what they want to say. Even though the dress does depict naked male parts, I do not at all experience it as being as offensive or x-rated as some might. It is just a body part, much like any other body part — and according to psychologists we should be teaching our children to talk openly about sexuality, not hiding it or keeping it a secret.


Van Beirendonck designs for young people, and is aware that his target audience does not always have the kind of funds usually needed to bag designer threads. He cuts out the middlemen from the production and distribution process, and has his clothes made on a large scale. This enables him to keep the prices down without resorting to manufacturing in low wage countries.One of these large scale projects is his children’s collections for JBC. For prices that are a little above average but not crazy ridiculous, your kids can wear beautiful Van Beirendonck clothes. His latest children’s collection ZulupaPUWA came with a lightbulb character and the message, “ZULU says Lights OFF.” You’ll find smiling lightbulbs popping up all over this range, hanging from strings or in the pockets — all the while asking kids to think about the environment and turn off the lights when they leave a room. His previous children’s collection featured the message “It’s OK to be different,” a message I applaud wholeheartedly!


Humor plays a huge part in Van Beirendonck’s work. I mean, you can’t help but childishly giggle at a penis dress, right? However he uses this humor to get across important messages — he strives to demolish gender constructions, to promote safe sex and to comment on world happenings. In an interview with, he said:

In my fantasy world, I see this as soldiers fighting for a kind of freedom. The helmets are not really referring to an army. It’s more about a freedom warrior, people demonstrating in the street. I always loved the idea of people standing up for diversity, for their right to be different.

A recent project gained Van Beirendonck the title Fashion’s Freedom Warrior, and he has earned it. He is not afraid to use his work to communicate a strong message. His Stop Racism headdresses were inspired by the street protests and demonstrations going on around the world.


In the 1990s, Van Beirendonck’s work gravitated heavily around the promotion of safe sex and the fight against the spread of AIDS. Brooke McCord of DAZED wrote about his work, saying:

You have entered the sex zone, a rubber induced realm, where men clad head-to-toe in muscle tight latex peacock their way down the catwalk, boasting acid bright marabou headwear. Women are dressed in figure-form fetish-wear emblazoned with Bowie lightening bolts, with zips running from the back of the head right under the crotch, leaving the wandering imagination to run wild. Despite bondage style visuals, immortalised by Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s blow-up sex doll meets model images, and a theme of fetishism the latex is in fact representative of a second skin, promoting safe sex, AIDS awareness and Van Beirendonck’s fun, open approach to sex.


For those of you who are loving the beard trend, Van Beirendonck did the beard before anyone did the beard. He is the beard.
You don’t need to look far on the streets of Antwerp to see Van Beirendonck’s work, as he even designed the uniforms for the Antwerp City garbage collectors. I love that he would take on a project like that — it makes me feel like he must be a nice guy! He also designed outfits for U2, but does not limit himself to working with big stars. He is a great supporter of the arts and he loves music: You can see some of his beautiful outfits in this Black Box Revelation music video. That tasseled coat looks really cosy and warm, right? (I have issues with the cold, so I judge everything according to warmness level.)

And let’s not forget that the Vogue Mix & Match trend for 2015 is something he has been doing for years. Van Beirendonck does not allow boundaries of clothing to restrict his designs — they occupy any space he feels they should.



First published on Bustle Jan 2015

Images:, Author, Twitter/@GH_Malephoto, Twitter/@IcaTanzi, Twitter/@Tracykonwar,


Music, Painting


I want to be more aware of passing time. A year flies past as if it was a month… Four years, five years… whoosh…

When I was in school each year seemed like a century. Time went by so slowly and each new year was clearly outlined and defined by a class title and new teachers and separated by exams and summer holidays.

In ‘grown-up’ life the years have no boundaries, the weeks go on and on and it is difficult to differentiate one year from another in your memory.

But for Lena… the passing of time is still a tangable concept…

-January 2011 dobre repliki pl
-Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm fake rolex kopen

The wonderful model for painting also very talented singer, her group is called “Paper Army”. You can listen here and follow here! link replica watches

Unbearable + Lightness + Being



“Is heavyness truly deplorable and lightness splendid? The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and thruthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.Then what shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

Milan Kundera

-April 2007
-Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm





September 2004
Acrylic on canvas 51x75cm

There was a person who brought love and light and beauty into my life. And I felt darkness and hurt when he left the world. But I still have his love and light and beauty in my heart.

“I wouldn’t swap the pain for never knowing you,
I wouldn’t swap the pain, cause it was worth it for the view
We’re still watchin’ your rainbow through the showers
And we still see you in every sunflower”
Bell X1