Holly Macdonald has been visiting the Territory for the last three years to visit her sister who works as a linguist in the remote central desert community Yuendumu. In 2017, she undertook a 10-day residency with ACCOMPLICE Art Space in Darwin delivering a two-day public workshop and begun the exploration of a new body of work.
Through this ACCOMPLICE Creative Director, Britt Guy, and Holly began to explore the notion of creating a body of work that responded to the contemporary landscape of the NT with a focus on sharing practice across social, locality and cultural boundaries.
The program will be undertaken through three residencies across 2018 with:
- Watch This Space in Alice Springs, NT – 4 weeks
- Katherine Regional Arts in Katherine, NT – 3 weeks
- ACCOMPLICE Arts Space in Darwin, NT – 4 weeks
She will be undertaking public programs in each place including:
- Impromptu Open Studio at Watch This Space
- Conversations through clay - ceramic workshops at Katherine Regional Arts
- ClayBody: Ceramic Jewellery Workshops at ACCOMPLICE
Having grown up between rural NSW and the city, I feel a strong connection to the land. I credit an understanding of ‘the natural systems that govern the land’ as a major influence in my work. I hand-build using a combination of pinching and coiling to construct and manipulate the clay into shape. There is an emphasis on touch as the guiding sense as opposed to sight. Building in this way allows for the clay to suggest or find its own form. In this way the act of making is collaboration with the material, following it as much as guiding it.
The ceramic vessel is approached as a canvas and used it to hold abstracted imagery developed from direct observation and recollection of place. Fragmented narrative details unfold over, around and inside the object encouraging the viewer to encounter the work from all angles. Through the installation of the work, often theatrical and always considered, I draw interrogative spatial relationships between the handmade object and the body of the viewer. An upturned vessel might hover suggestively at hand height, or hang impossibly at eye-height.
The NT is unique in the way that its climate dictates the rhythm of daily life. I experienced this through my primary material, clay, when in residence in Darwin this year. In the heat of July ceramic works that would usually take 3 days to dry in Melbourne would be dry within several hours. This forced me to reassess my approach to clay and my methods of production. The challenge this environment posed has strongly influenced the current direction of my practice, which has involved following materials (rather than manipulating them for a predetermined end) and using them as tools to discover new ways of existing in the world. I am driven to return to the site that initiated this shift in order to delve deeper into the relationship between environment, material behaviour and human behaviour.