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Holly Graham >>

Leaning Against or Holding

7th June - 1st August 2018

Skelf is pleased to present a new work, Leaning Against or Holding, by the artist Holly Graham. This virtual project for Skelf runs concurrently with Sweet Swollen, an exhibition in the Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space, at Jerwood Space in London.

These works stem from research around a pair of 18th Century Meissen porcelain blackamoor sweetmeat bowls that are currently on display in a collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The artist uses these two objects and others like them, sourced from online image searches and auction house catalogues, to consider ideas of ownership and authoring of imagery and narratives; navigated via histories of colonial exploitation, the lasting legacies of sugar production, and our complex relationship with its remnants in the present day.

While an encounter with the bowls themselves may provoke an uncomfortable reflection on the history of the society that created them, the transformation of these images into animated gifs invites a new engagement on contemporary terms. Low-fi and transportable, the medium itself is designed for easy sharing and use in day-to-day conversation, shifting dialogues of power and value to the present tense. The imagery is interrupted with layered, scrolling and fading groupings of text, which include fragments from interviews conducted with V&A African Heritage Tour Guides earlier this year, and extracts from Amy McCauley's accompanying written response.

Click through to project here >>

Accompanying the exhibition is a text work by Amy McCauley, who has responded to the themes in Holly Graham’s work. Expanding on ideas of fetishized beauty and servitude, two quotations from William Morris are disrupted by texts from Claudia Rankine and James Baldwin and reconfigured to form new meanings. The constant fragmentation and reconfiguration of statements allows them to be both challenging and nonsensical, shifting the weight of interpretation to the reader/viewer.

Holly Graham is an artist based in London. Much of her work considers the malleable and subjective nature of individual and collective memory. Bound up in this lies an interest in recording mechanisms, documents, evidence and processes of editing. She undertook her BFA at Oxford University in 2012 and graduated from MA Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in 2014, where she received the Thames Barrier Print Studio Graduate Award and the Augustus Martin Award for Innovation in Print. Concurrent to her studio practice, she leads workshops in schools, community groups and galleries. Recent exhibitions and projects include: Sweet Swollen, Jerwood Visual Arts, London (2018); On my island none of this would be true, Arebyte, London (2018); After Harry Jacobs: Outside, Cypher Billboard, London (2017); House Work, 53 Back Road, London (2017); Altai: Experiments in Collective Practice, RCA Dyson Gallery, London (2017); Backdrop, Cypher, Berlin / Bond House Projects with Art Licks Weekend, London (2016); Jack Petchey: START Programme, South London Gallery, London (2015-16); In Transit, Art On The Underground, London (2016); Flat-Pack, The Greenroom, Krakow (2015).

Amy McCauley is a poet, editor and performer based in Manchester. She is a Contributing Editor for MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture and her first book of poetry OEDIPA is published by Guillemot Press. You can find out more about Amy’s work here: