States of Matter

Commissioned by the Folly Gallery, Lancaster 2004

This exhibition consisted of a series of eight photographic transparencies ‘Electro-Light’, and the video installation ‘The Almond Tree’ Part ii.

Electro-Light

Series of 8 backlit transparent images made for the Folly Gallery Lancaster 2004

installation shot installation shot

Held between glass, this series of Ilfochrome transparencies are held away from the wall on simple brackets with a light bulb placed on the wall behind each one for illumination, the brackets throwing shadows across the wall of the gallery. The bare, almost medical presentation contrasts with the natural flowing forms found within the images.

The photographs are part created using an old 60’s projector which gives a soft edge fading out to black. Glass slides and their various contents are projected and enlarged onto a semi transparent medium behind which objects are placed. This creates a layered effect and the possibility of playing with scale and incorporating drawing and painting into the composition. The resulting images take on a life of their own which defy their mundane origins but still retain overtones of analysis of specimens. The translucent globe becomes both ovule and sun and the usually unseen tiny pollen grains and seeds become falling hammers. These natural forms reflect their own nature; with associations of conductivity, fecundity and reproduction but are at the same time transformed into part of a larger story.

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The Almond Tree (part i)

Commissioned by the MAC, Birmingham 2003

still from The Almond Tree still from The Almond Tree

The light box work ‘The Almond Tree’ was made for and shown at the Cotton Gallery at the MAC in Birmingham along with other works including ‘Magic, Murder and the Weather’ and ‘Eye of Heaven’ part i. The second part of this work ‘The Almond Tree part ii’ (video) was made in 2004;

These multi-layered photographic images are presented as backlit colour Ilfochrome transparencies. In the work, the use of the tree as the symbol of change and conduction is apparent. The title for the work and references within it are drawn from the Brothers Grimm story, in particular the eternal quandaries of murder, rebirth and the unearthing and revenge of wrongdoing. Whilst paring an apple in her garden, a maiden cut her hand and the blood spilt on the white snow. ‘…’Ah,’ said the woman, sighing deeply, and looking down at the blood, ‘if only I could have a child with lips as red as blood, and skin as white as snow.’

The mother dies in childbirth and as in so many of these tales, the husband re-marries a woman who treats the boy badly out of jealousy and hatred. She asks him to pick an apple from a large chest, and while doing so, she drops the lid which chops off his head. She boils up his body and makes a thick black broth which she then feeds to the homecoming father. So both the mother and then the son are buried under the almond tree. The tree absorbs the bones of the dead child and a bright red bird is born out of its branches. The bird kills the woman by dropping a millstone on her head and with that he changes back into the boy.

In the tale, the tree and its roots are life-giving; enabling the woman’s fertilility, her blood acting as a magic conductor of life-giving energy. The conductive tree acts as a symbol of the cyclical nature of things, and natures continuing ability to absorb and transform.

Read the full story

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The Almond Tree (part ii)

11 minute film commissioned by The Folly Gallery, Lancaster 2004

Video still Video still

The video work is in part inspired by themes found in the story of The Almond Tree by the Brothers Grimm. A series of lightbox works, ‘The Almond Tree’ part I, was made in 2003 for the Mac in Birmingham.
The story is laden with archetypal metaphors exploring themes concerned with death and transformation. It tells of a tree that can grant wishes, one such wish gives rise to the long hoped for birth of a son. It absorbs bones and these are then transformed into a golden bird; themes which have re-occurred throughout history in both mythology and the bible. For more information on the story go to Grimms ‘The Almond Tree’.

This was Holland’s first video work and is a combination of moving images and her photographed studio set-ups. One image fades slowly into another; a vessel filled with red liquid becomes a sacred heart which then becomes coral and in turn fades into footage of an actual frozen heart, placed in the snow.
This exhibition evolved from the themes explored in previous shows such as ‘Vessel’ and ‘Magic, Murder and the Weather’ in which elements of biology and mythology are side by side. ‘The Almond Tree’ part ii explores aspects of the tree as an electrically charged medium - a conduit for metamorphosis and resurrection.

Tracey Holland: ‘States Of Matter’ a-n magazine June 2004
Tracey Holland ‘States Of Matter’ Source magazine 39 2004