Arts + Entertainment

KENT ARTIST PROFILE: HOLLIE MACKENZIE

DRIVEN BY FEMINIST POLITICS, ASHFORD-BASED ARTIST HOLLIE MACKENZIE CREATES TOTALLY PERSONAL, AND TRULY INTERESTING WORK, USING A VERY UNIQUE SCULPTURE TECHNIQUE. insideKENT SPOKE TO HOLLIE ABOUT WHAT INFORMS HER ART AND WHERE HER IDEAS COME FROM.

credit: Alex Taylor

If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do? 

I make melting wooden sculptures! Through the artistic practice of sculpting, I explore a unique process of melting wood. I carve into solid pieces of wood to bring out the flows and drips to transform wood into a fluid piece of art. 

How did you become an artist? 

I’ve been artistic ever since I could pick up things – crayons, food, even nappies didn’t escape artistic experimentation! I’ve always been lucky enough to know that I needed to pursue art in whatever way I could, so I began specialising in it by studying Fine Art at the Arts University at Bournemouth. My love for art and learning then developed into a life-long journey in which I’m an eternal student! 

For me, art and learning go hand in hand and so I continued to present my work regularly at academic and artistic events nationally and internationally.

Did you find that your feminist ideals were easy to incorporate into your art? 

Absolutely! My creative process is driven by my feminist politics, whether that is obvious within the artwork or not – that is subjective to the viewer – but it is what fuels my creativity. My artworks are personal, and the personal is political. Maybe that’s why I hate Crits (where an artist presents work to a group for feedback and often results in an emotional exchange of criticism and disempowerment)! I’ve actually renamed Crits as “Affirmative Crits” when I teach, and students are only allowed to give each other constructive feedback rather than negative critique. By practicing a feminist politic of affirmation, the students (and artists) feel supported and empowered by each other

You work in a variety of different media including film, sculpture and paint; does the subject matter define the medium you use, or the other way around? 

I find that both the subject matter and medium define each other. Given the male orientated history of sculptors that has spread into contemporary carpentry trades, I chose to use wood as my medium within a feminist artistic practice to breakthrough that tradition. By reinventing a labour traditionally represented as masculine (sculpting), I carve out a challenge to the traditional ideas of the “master” artist, and propose that we can all have equality of the imagination. 

What is the most special, unusual, daring, or interesting commission you’ve ever received?

I was recently invited to present and lead a workplayshop focusing on the future role of art and artists in the act of public protest, at Culture Lab, Liverpool in October. This has been my most rewarding invitation so far as it provided me with an opportunity to explore and implement innovative forms of teaching with artistic encounters that encouraged learning through collaboration, creativity and experimentation. The workplayshop was a huge success with the participating artists as it stimulated creativity, learning, imagination, and thought within their own artistic practices. 

Do you have any artistic heroes? Or feminist heroes you create art from? 

My artistic heroes are the Guerrilla Girls! Who I was fortunate enough to interview as part of the case study I conducted into their “Complaints Department” at Tate Exchange for the Tate Exchange Evaluation Report (2016-17). This research role was separate to, but in connection with, my Lead Artist role in relation to the new Tate Exchange Learning Program. 

You’re studying for a PhD in political and social thought, are you able to use your art in your thesis, or is it an entirely separate entity? 

I am creating my thesis as an art-thesis! Instead of submitting a traditional academic thesis, I am planning to submit my thesis as a melting sculpture – but it will still be a thesis containing the required 80,000 words, only it will be an enfolded art-thesis. Creating the traditional academic thesis as a melting sculpture is my proposal for different forms of expression and apparatuses for academic writing.

Where can we see your work? 

On my website at www.mackenzieartist.co.uk or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MackenzieArtist

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