Ashleigh Holmes is an artist based in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia. She has been painting for as long as her hands could hold a brush. Holmes has developed her painting practice from a vocational pursuit into a full-fledged professional career. A recent finalist in the Mosman Art Prize (2019) Holmes has featured in several solo exhibitions including BATEAU at Smithmade Balgowlah (2018) and among them three sell-out shows: CLOUDS (2019) at Studio Four (2019), IMMERSE(2020) at Sydney Road Gallery and THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (2020) at Studio Four.
The Curators: Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist.
Ashleigh Holmes: I am a fourth generation artist born on the Northern Beaches in Sydney Australia, which is also where my studio, 'Studio Four' is located. Our family has always been really creative and supportive of me and my siblings' creative side so when I was 3 years old my Mum handed me a paintbrush and I've never looked back. Creating has always played a big role in my life, I love photography, sculpting and drawing so it was a very natural progression to being a full-time artist.
The Curators: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Ashleigh Holmes: I draw inspiration primarily from natural landscapes and travel, I find the colours of nature are a huge part of my preferred colour palette, often drawn directly from a sunrise or cloudscape I had recently seen. I have also been really fortunate to travel to some beautiful places, Japan was so inspiring and Mallorca too!
The Curators: Could you tell us about your process when you're creating. How do you begin formulating an idea for a painting?
Ashleigh Holmes: My preferred creative process is tonnes of natural light, palo santo burning, loud music playing and of course good coffee. My ideas come from all over, if I am doing a body of work there can be an overarching theme, for example my recent collection for your Gallery, The Curators, was in progress as Australia was turning from our Summer season to Autumn and I loved the colours being formed.
The Curators: What’s your studio philosophy?
Ashleigh Holmes: I’m a very superstitious person, I like to have the right amount of light in the studio, music and materials. I have my organised chaos throughout and particular materials that I use. I believe in the term ‘wabi sabi’ - is the beauty of things imperfect and impermanent.
The Curators : What influences you?
Ashleigh Holmes: Colours influence me, I’m in awe of natural landscapes and the way they are able to take your breath away. Make you feel a certain way, with colour sensory effect.
The Curators: Who are the artists that influence you the most?
Ashleigh Holmes: I love Mark Rothko's work and Bonobo music.
Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1968
The Curators: How has your art changed from when you first started creating?
Ashleigh Holmes: My art has changed in so many ways, from materials and canvas size. I feel like in the last year or so i've become much more drawn to layering and textures so that is something i'm experimenting with at the moment.
The Curators: Who are some of the artists working today that you look to for inspiration or admire?
Ashleigh Holmes: Otis Hope Carey is an amazing artist making such a mark in the art world.
Otis Carey, Surf Festival, 2017
The Curators: Other than the genre you work in, what other types of art do you most enjoy?
Ashleigh Holmes: I really love sculpting and ceramics!
The Curators: Is there a particular art object you would like to possess?
Ashleigh Holmes: Large screen printing materials.
The Curators: Describe your work in three words.
Ashleigh Holmes: Ambient, Tonal and Intuitive.
The Curators: A word about your palette?.
Ashleigh Holmes: It’s grounding, muted and far from the primary colour range. My palette is specific and considered. It’s aim is to inflict a feeling of peace and correlation to nature.
The Curators: Light is a fundamental theme in your work. Is this something that you explore outside of your artistic practice as a larger philosophy?
Ashleigh Holmes: Yes - I enjoy the rare moments before the sun is completely risen, the colour range in the sky is magnificent. I like that this stage is only present for 30 minutes or so, it’s rare and therefore it’s special. It’s important to me to see the sun rise when I can! I take lots of film photography on a 35mm camera, this is all related to the amount of light needed to capture the right photo! I love opening up the back of the camera to let light leaks in, the risk is loosing your roll of film - With the right amount of light the outcome can be beautiful.