Green Earth’s End
12th November 1993-23rd January 1994
Enter Tracey Holland’s studio and you enter into a magical environment where cut hair and torn playing cards are strewn across the table, glass eyes gaze at you from the windowsill and rusted clock faces fail to tell the time. Open the fridge and alongside the milk and pate, a packet of duck’s legs competes for space with a large python.
Like many artists, Tracey draws the raw materials for her work from the discarded remains of everyday life. Whereas some might raid the nearby skips, Tracey acquires the natural losses from a nearby reptile house, cut hair from hairdresser’s floors and dead creatures found in her allotment.
Tracey’s work is far from morbid however. Her photographs reveal an extraordinary beauty reminiscent of luscious 16th century still lives where extravagant arrangements of wilting flowers and rotting fruit reveal a wealth of life forms like bluebottles and maggots. It is commonly believed that these paintings are intended as a kind of memento mori, a reminder of our own mortality and the inevitability of change. Through Tracey’s work too runs a fascination for life and death, growth and decay, the changing of the seasons and the passing of time.
In the exhibition Green Earth’s End, figures emerge from a sea of rye grass, (grown and harvested by Tracey from her own allotment). The rye grass is a natural metaphor for cyclical regeneration. It is
grown from seed, harvested and germinates again from its own seed. References to harvesting or cutting are very visible.
The title is taken from a line in the poem Comus by Milton. Like a poem, Tracey’s work evokes a strong sense of mood and suggests a layering of different meanings, some quite obvious, some quite subtle. Milton refers to “ominous woods” and “black shades imbowered” and this suggestion of the macabre is echoed in Tracey’s work. Behind the apparently delicate and seductive imagery lies a darker and more disturbing side, things are not always as they
Tracey Holland was born in Birmingham in 1961. She now lives and works in Sheffield as an artist and lecturer .
Walsall Museum and Art Gallery
This exhibition is accompanied by a video of the artist in her studio by Amarjit Singh.