Jo Holland works on the border between photography and painting, employing the techniques of both to create images that belong to neither medium. Holland makes photographic prints without the intermediary of either camera or negative, directly exposing the object through the focusing lens onto what becomes a unique lifochrome print. In this respect her work goes against the grain of much of contemporary photographic practice, which is dominated by the reproducibility of the medium and its digital manipulation. Aesthetica spoke to Jo to find out more about her work and what we can expect to see in the future.
A: Firstly, where do you draw your inspiration from in your artwork?
JH: I draw inspiration from my immediate surroundings, observing life, light, people, daily interactions, colours, materials, places, nature, animals, the list goes on. I observe what I am drawn to, what is drawn to me, what I see, hear, feel, sense, touch etc……
Meditation also informs my practice & my own personal journey crosses over too.
It can be a scene in a movie or an interesting use of words in a book/newspaper, a quote from a magazine, comments people make, a conversation with a friend or stranger, food, unspoken communication, an emotion, it all filters into what I create & what I do in general on a daily basis.
Light is a huge part and nature.
A: Your art practice borders both photography and painting, what is your main concern by merging these two mediums?
JH: I was painting and working with a camera with film & black and white darkroom photography and realised I could not create the kind of results I wished to express through either medium. I loved both however neither was giving me the visual representation I could see in my minds eye. I loved the use of light in photography to capture the image onto the film and then again in the darkroom to create the print but it was black and white, not colour at that time, and I enjoyed painting the light and shadow on objects abstracting slightly the reality with colour, both were a record of the light and composition and colour I was observing but they didn’t have the extra umpft I was searching for…. That’s when I began researching photography & experimenting with alternative processes which lead to the discovery of this way of working directly with light, in the darkroom with objects, colour and silver based material. I’ve been developing this method ever since…
A: About your use of colour, in the chrysalis series titled Awaken you’re working with a very limited palette of red, green and yellow and tones in between, when you’re creating work how do you evolve a palette to work with?
JH: I tend to work with the subject I am working with to hand, observing the colours that already exist and applying colour with paint and light, to either compliment the existing hues or to contrast them enhancing certain aspects within the chosen subject. I also use colour to add depth to the work, to give a 3D quality to the images created. I work with colour and composition to create harmony and balance within the final image and the collection as a whole, to achieve a certain kind of unison within each piece and how the whole collection interacts together within an exhibition. For me its all about balance and harmony and attracting the eye to look at things from a new perspective.
A: What is the starting point for one of your works?
JH: It starts either with an idea or an object, however it can take years to develop and acquire the chosen material with which I wish to work, hearts for example, although it can also be immediate if I work with something to hand like with a certain flower that’s caught my eye.
It’s an ongoing process of idea testing, and allowing time for the idea to develop, then progressing and actively creating, thinking swiftly when in the studio to problem solve if things don’t turn out initially as you expected or working with what is resulting, that may not be what you originally expected and sitting with it until you understand if its better than you visualised or not so great…. and so forth. Its an ongoing process.
A: Do you work with other artistic forms?
JH: My main body of work to date has been working with darkroom based Ilfochrome photography although I do also work with digital photograph, not so much as a creative tool, more as an expansion of my current practice, by combining both analogue with digital it offers the best of both worlds. I continue to develop my practice despite Ilfochrome material coming to an end. I will be venturing into new ways of creating work in the future so I am exploring all possible avenues available.
I am currently working on our third collaborative textile print project SS14 with women’s wear designer Cristina Sabaiduc. This season has been particularly challenging due to the subject matter we decided to work with, however I am confident the end results with be more inspiring due to the challenges we overcame to create them.
Exciting times ahead!
Jo Holland: Awaken, 1 August until 28 September, Studio 26 Gallery, 49 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11206. www.joholland.com
See Jo’s artwork in the current issue of Aesthetica out now www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop
1. Blue Morpho, 2013. ©Jo Holland
2. Scarlet Mormon, 2012. ©Jo Holland