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terra by holly dawes



Coldens gallery 

St leonards on sea

Holly has created four large vessels using coils of clay. She builds the coils upwards and outwards until they are just before the point of collapse. At this point of imminent collapse Holly choses to relinquish control and let the clay slump a little into its form. This delicate balance between informed creativity and the fundamental laws of Nature and material brings about a final sculptural form that sits outside of traditional forms that are normally dictated by functionality and or an aesthetic bias. The desire to relinquish control is evident at every stage of the process with which Holly makes these vessels. Two have been made with local clay from slightly different places on the beach. Of these two one uses clay that has been processed to remove some of the imperfections and the other has been left unprocessed. The other two vessels are made with bought clays that have been processed in a factory. All four have been fired once in an electric kiln. One has had a second firing in a hole in the ground where woodsmoke has darkened it. In addition to showing her four sculptures Holly will be working in the gallery space for the duration of the exhibition and creating a new site-specific installation. The back wall of the gallery will serve as a large-scale sketch book page upon which Holly will play with and investigate relationships between a strictly limited selection of materials. Holly relies on what she describes as ‘miraculous finds’ when looking for the starting point in her work. To help prompt these finds she sets her own limitations by drawing up a set of rules before allowing herself to begin the making. For this specific work Holly has settled on the following 3 rules;

1. No electricity

2. All materials found within a 10 miles radius

3. All clay to remain unfired

Trudging through a moon scape at dawn wearing my moon shoes

I am drawn to the pink clay

I am bleeding

Earth blood

Last night I slept on clay under nearly full moon. I dreamed I was lying on different clay in a different time, and it swallowed me into the earth.


To gain a further understanding of the materials I use, I walk out along the beach past the edge of the town to where the landscape becomes wild, where walking becomes a slow clambering over boulders. There are plateaus of cracked dry clay that go on for miles, the clay is pink, grey, blue and yellow and it crunches underfoot. I feel like I’m in a desert, in the wild west, apart from the sea, my constant companion rushing in and out beside me. I find a plateau where the clay is flat and relatively smooth and put down my sleeping bag, I am covered in sea salt and grey clay dust. As I snuggle down into my sleeping bag the moon is rising, it is nearly full and it’s giving so much light that it could almost be day. I fall asleep to the sound of owls and the sea. The clay seeps into my dreams. My body feels broken, beaten and I am lying on clay, the clay draws me in, and I sink into the depths of the earth, it feels cool, heavy, dark and wonderful, a release from my body so that I am earth and earth is me. Delight in the materiality of the world. After waking I start to walk back the way I came, along the clay. I pick up a piece of pink clay and put it in my pocket; this crumbling piece of clay was then used in my exhibition, ‘Terra’, at Colden’s gallery.

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