“People have pegged me as a whimsical sculptor,” says Somerville’s Hilary Scott. “I enjoy faces, I enjoy making large things. I think of myself as a problem solver.” At his home on Browning Road, you’ll find cats (and mice) gearing up for battle, along with rocket ships, sea creatures on the ceiling and dinosaurs in the yard.
Scott is one of the hundreds of artists who open their doors for Somerville Open Studios each year, but you don’t have to wait until May 6 and 7 to check out his incredibly cool house. In this installment of SCOUTV, we’re taking you on a tour of his home and the fantastical works inside.
It’s a normal January afternoon at Hilary Scott’s home. A tyrannosaurus rex prowls through the backyard; inside, mounted dinosaur heads adorn the dining room walls. An octopus is stretching its way across the foyer ceiling while shimmering bronze birds watch TV nearby, and upstairs, cats in armor ready for battle in a space they share with a towering, 10-foot robot.
Every room of this house, where hands sprout from the floor and music plays from speakers shaped like faces, feels like a fantasy made real—which is all the more impressive when you learn that Scott never went to art school. Instead, the former professor started making these sculptures as a way to inspire and connect with his kids. “I decided, well, let’s try to interact in a way that is dynamic,” Scott says. “Let’s start making things for them.”
It led him to a simple realization—if he was doing this for his kids, why couldn’t he do it for himself? “The more I begin to externalize my imagination, the more comfortable I become in my surroundings,” he says. He started making more and more, building bigger projects and experimenting with new mediums. “I think of myself as a problem solver,” he says. “I find a material and think, ‘Well, what can I do with this?’”
Scott’s art-making methods are nontraditional, but then, so are his clients—they’re people who want penguins on their ceiling or massive robots for their yard. When people come to him with an idea and ask if he’s ever done something like it before, his answer is often, “No, but I don’t see why not.” It leads him to create work that’s imaginative, playful, bright and completely one of a kind.
Still, to this day, many of his biggest fans are kids, which makes a lot of sense given that his own children first encouraged him to create. “I came at sculpture by wanting to amuse and engage little people,” Scott says.
It was only later that he realized adults want to be amused, engaged—and inspired—in the same way.
Video edited by Jason Corey.
SCOUTV is a multimedia collaboration between Scout Somerville and SCATV that brings the stories in each print edition of Scout to life with video and audio. You can find more installments in the series here.
This story originally appeared in the “Artists in Residence” feature in the March/April print edition of Scout, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.