Nina Holmes: Biography
As a painter, Nina’s materials are never limited to canvas and oil, instead she works loosely and around expectations. Often using pieces of material or repurposed upholstery, the process of altering or intervening to create work is approached through what she terms as “surrealist automatism”, while also allowing for the inevitable influence of found images, photographs and borrowing of techniques and inspirations from other paintings. She enjoys working on multiple paintings, with work spread out across her studio in Woodstock. The working process is occasionally accompanied by a grand symphonic soundtrack and sometimes with silence. There is careful thinking and intense working through various influences and concepts.
The fear and embarrassment of obsolescence makes for a civilization that is not civil but instead one that is hardened to any body or thing that is deemed worthless and has thus become irrelevant to societal functioning.
My current body of work deals largely with the notions of uselessness, irrelevance and invisibility surrounding both people and inanimate objects that are essentially discarded by a consumptive society obsessed with narcissistic value(s). The avid modern day consumerism accentuates this. My interest in the concept was originally piqued by ageism but as I began my investigation, I was wary of becoming sucked into just one aspect. I found myself aware of all marginal groups, outsiders, animals, household objects, dysfunctional items etc. that are either ignored or disposed of. I have always had a fascination for antiquity and a sense that something of another era or even recent past, holds a weight of knowledge, of stories, of humanity. And from a young age I have scoured beaches, dump sites and second hand markets in the search of a special something that had been thrown out.
I am exploring this idea in a number of ways, but most obviously in the repurposing of discarded materials that I am incorporating into my work. Many of the paintings are on old canvases, some even retrieved from bins, some that I have further distressed before painting begins. Art palettes are elevated to painting status and used acrylic paint has been reimagined onto canvases. My cleaning rags have become important markers for this work – dirty, little unplanned throw outs that have inspired larger works and have become art works themselves on unprimed canvas. Contemporary work has been framed in the slightly outdated, gaudy frames of the past.
Titles of Old is irrelevant and Best Before refer to our expiry date and imply an anxiety induced notion of time evaporating.
A floor work that has been sewn together from individual paintings and rags speaks of the invisibility and worthlessness where it is trampled underfoot by the viewer.
The centerpiece is based on a Gucci shopping bag by artist Ignasi Monreal. The image on the bag (which is essentially a throw away item) has become more important than the overly expensive item that was once in it. Greek mythology inspired references denote a past era, one that can be looked back on with nostalgia but one that is largely irrelevant today. The old and the new are entwined in a surrealist depiction.
I suppose it is not so much the mere upcycling of aged objects that is at the heart of this work; rather a call for care, for pausing and noting, for giving attention to something or someone whose value may have been obscured.
Oil on board
27 x 24.5 cm
Camouflage 2 & 1
Oil on board
24 x 32.5 cm
Acrylic on Primed paper
97.5 x 91 cm