Skye Holland

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I am a London-based artist, with a studio in an old converted factory in Kingston-Upon-Thames, a suburb of London pretty close to Hampton Court Palace where Henry VIII resided! I trained in Fine Art Printmaking at Central St. Martin’s School of Art & Design in the mid 1980’s. This is a famous school of art and we had amazing tutors and visiting lecturers as a matter of course - people like Anthony Caro, Norman Ackroyd, Trisha Gillman, and Helen Chadwick. The main influences of the day were abstract expressionism and the beginnings of more conceptual approaches to contemporary art - installationary work, video, film etc. However, all the disciplines, and particularly printmaking were rooted in traditional drawing. We had a life model on hand every Friday which I always attended and loved and it was there where I learned and practiced my craft and flair with ‘life’ drawing from the model.

I have made, exhibited and sold artwork all my life, alongside being a working wife, running a home and raising two children who are now amazing, independent young adults working in London. We moved to South Africa at the end of the 80’s to work in Johannesburg. It was a very vibrant and exciting, if sometimes hair-raising time spent there - the birth of Nelson Mandela’s “rainbow nation” with his release from 28 years incarceration and the first free election which saw him become SA’s first black president. As I am the only hearing person in a deaf family, I can use sign language - and interpreted live news of the election coverage to the world - an incredible experience I’ll never forget and am so grateful for!

My artwork from this time reflects the very serious socio-political events which dominated the press and our everyday lives, but also the amazing colours, textures and most importantly the stories of ordinary people, their adventures and human endeavours and resilience which never ceased to impress me.

It is the story-telling aspect of making my artwork which has become central to everything I do, and the latest body of work - The Emmanuelle Collection is no exception. The concept was born last summer, when my daughter Emmanuelle popped into my studio and asked me to draw her naked as a gift for her boyfriend. She sat in a chair and arranged her hair over one shoulder and I drew her fast, with sweeping lines, fingers smudging and marks made with a putty rubber. Two hours later, she ran off with it straight to the framer. Her boyfriend was so happy! It occurred to me that this was a powerful idea - that in spite of idealised “photoshopped” images of female and male sexuality pumped out through mass media, women (or men) would have their own very personal ideas about how they want to be seen, or see themselves. Capturing this projection of desire in an artwork as a contemporary take on the boudoir painting tradition is proving to be very evocative and much admired.

Stripped down to mainly black and white graphics, with some use of mixed media/colour - I focus on the capturing of the “essence” of the models who come into my studio. Sometimes the drawings are fast, and I use expressive mark-making and experience with a line to capture form, curves, structure in an economic and almost fashion-illustrative way - elegant and stylish. Other times, it is a much more lengthy study, where I can add tone, texture, describe form, fabric, pattern and latterly, adding accoutrements, fashion and detailing which the models might bring with them or which I collect from my travels (and wardrobe) in my studio. The days are fun, relaxed and quite often the stories told are intimate, funny, sad, amazing and moving... but none are re-told...unless specifically requested.. secrets remain secrets!

Recently, I’ve printed a selection of these drawings in limited editions on fine papers and on brushed aluminium panels - which are very glamorous and striking and look amazing in contemporary interiors. I am planning a launch event with an exhibition of The Emmanuelle Collection in a central London gallery in the spring. Please do register your interest on my website.

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