The Guardian          Friday November 19 1993


Tracey Holland


Robert Clark


How strange to unearth Tracy Holland’s exquisitely perverse photo-art in Walsall. Her multiple-piece work, Green Earth’s End, is installed behind a room full of amateur landscapes. So, unsurprisingly, Holland’s work comes across as even more aesthetically decadent than usual.

Holland is a rare example of a collage and assemblage artist who knows how to use the techniques with sensitivity and restraint. There’s no restraint however in her subject matter. She is fascinated by everything abandoned, rotten and dead. Her large backlit transparen­cies feature a complex overlay of corpses like naked figures, dead snakes, birds’ wings, withered flow­ers, matted hair, fish hooks broken clocks and fragments of faded text. Most of this bizarre sorcery of images will be familiar to fans of her memento mori work but the use of the human figure is new and adds an extra disturbing touch. The colours tend to be stains of putrefied greens and bruise reds. A prone naked wom­an washed up in a tangled bed of rye grass is superimposed with a massive dead python that initially reads to the eye like a dislocated spine. Holland knows how to place things just right to give the most affective frisson of unease. Rodin once remarked “There’s nothing so beautiful as beauty in its ruins.” Holland knows it.

At the Walsall Art Gallery, until Jan­uary 23.