Tracey Holland uses objects, paint, drawing, light, film and photography to create work. These are mainly installation pieces, which over the past 24 years have been shown both in the UK and internationally. For the past 12 years she has been working with the moving image, exploring the integration of the moving and still image/still image sequence within a piece of work. She often deals in images that have an innate sense of history and contain elements of the naturalistic, but often these are out of place or askew. Combined with objects embodying a more personal iconography, the work is layered with place, time and history.
Holland employs certain elements of folk tale and religious myth as reference points for new work. The archetypal imagery and themes found here interlink with Holland’s preoccupations and personal interpretation of similar motifs. The psychological archetypes found in these tales and myths transcend a particular time and place, and relate to unchanging and inescapable truths about human nature and experience. Holland’s work is often an exploration derived from their historical and/or biological origins and their psychological significance.
Images of metamorphosis are often explored; raw electricity into lightning, maps of how energy flows, how it’s created, held and transmitted. Histological images and scientific glassware are set alongside a range of objects that have relevance, sometimes a personal iconography, often a more universal one. Objects used range from chemistry lab glassware, eggs, blood, branch and roots, to microscopic projections of webs, dirt and insect wings. Projection onto drafting film is a key element in the construction and presentation in much of the work; it elicits an instant abstracting of image and scale in which a cosmos can be projected into a jar and plant roots transform into forest-like arteries. Distinctions between genres are blurred and in making the work, the act of projection provides the ability to contrast seemingly disparate images or objects and draw comparisons on the macro and micro level. Contrasted with this are references to stories, myths and folk tales that often embody a symbolic metamorphosis.
Her first major individual exhibition was Mortal Remains in 1992 at the Site Gallery in Sheffield. This work was shown at Internationales de la Photographie d’Aries, Mai de la Photo, France, and nominated for the ICI Fox Talbot Awards at the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television. Her work featured in the Thames and Hudson publication Flora Photographica, and the associated US and Canadian touring show. Installations include Green Earth’s End in 1993 for Walsall Art Gallery and The Twelve Keys in 1995, made for the Crossley Gallery at Dean Clough. Reviewing this show, The Guardian’s Robert Clark writes; “…she uses photography with considerably more atmospheric force than most painters get out of paint, or even film directors get out of film”. The Photo’98 commissioned Vessel installation was included in the Wellcome Trust’s Truth and Beauty national and internationally touring show in 2002-4.
Her first major film work Resurrection Stories was commissioned by Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham in 2005, and in 2007 she was artist in residence at The Baaken Museum of Electricity in Minneapolis. Recent group shows include Picturing Science at the Riverside Gallery Twickenham, and Art Science and Neutrality at Bar Lane Gallery York. In 2013 -14, the Arts Council-funded Magnetic Atlas was shown at St Johns Church, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in North Lincolnshire. This was a major exhibition of new work featuring three film installations and photographic series.
Her latest show Confluence – Crossings and Guiding Lights was shown at Hull and Grimsby Minsters in 2022, venues which lay either side of the Humber, and examines the ever-changing borderlines, transience and continual ebb and flow of the estuarine environment. This Arts Council-funded show is made up of six separate works, using film, photography and assemblage.