Trauma Hurts

Kristjan ‘Tan’ Gillies (b.1984) lives and works between London and his motherland Iceland. He is a multi-disciplinary artist, whose work encompasses text, film, photography and painting. His practice stems from an exploration of inner conflict, trauma and addiction through the prism of his mental health struggles and journey of sobriety. His experience with addiction, pain and chaos cement his position at the dichotomy between strength and tragedy with a raw vulnerability.


A nostalgic love letter to Iceland and Gillies’ family. It’s a romanticised look into the past, with the healing and mystical landscape of Iceland at the heart. Reflecting back dreamily connecting hazy memories, it looks towards a hopeful future.

Through struggles with sobriety, mental health and domestic violence, the hypnotic stream of consciousness threads together his experiences growing up in London with summers spent in a tiny village in Iceland. The contrast of chaos and safety, with Iceland as the safe haven to escape and connect to. After a difficult journey out of addiction, this piece of work is a therapy of sorts, a work that reflects the highs and the lows and ultimately pushes through the darkness and into the light.