Brendan Jamison: Collecting contemporary art [Part 3: Futurism and Parody]

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Installation view of BIO-TECHNIA (2011) Lydia Holmes, Queen Street Studios Gallery, Belfast

 

How much do we remember about the Italian Futurist movement of 1909-1944? We should begin with a brief recap on the leader Filippo Tommasso Marinetti (1876-1944) who was a supporter of anarchy, determined to destroy the old order and replace it with fascism. That should be enough to stop us reading any further. However, Futurism was an artistic movement that reflected the social and political ideologies of the day. It focused on early 20th century concepts of the future – speed, noise, youth, violence, rapid technological progress, the automobile, the aeroplane, pollution and the industrial city.

Why is any of this relevant to collecting contemporary art in the 21st century? In was in 2010 at her degree show in Belfast that I bought my first drawing by Lydia Holmes (born 1986). Her work parodies the irrational ideals of the Futurist’s visual language and the fascist statements in their manifestos. However, it is not a satirical reworking of old concepts; rather it is a refreshingly contemporary aesthetic, one based on today’s scientific and technological advancements. Menacing mechanical instruments intermingle with human and animal hybrids. Presented in a clinical style, the drawings and sculptures appear as findings from a laboratory. Experimentation is the key. In one case the male reproductive organ is inserted with a spike, transforming it into a science-fiction styled weapon, hovering in space.

PROTEUSX (2011) Lydia Holmes, mixed-media collage, 30 x 21 cms

 

While the Futurist artists employed sharply pointed angular lines to heighten a sense of violence and movement, this oppressive masculine aesthetic is countered by Holmes who offers a gentle feminine sensitivity. She still adopts the triangle but in a less intense fashion, with her, the visual language is one of suggestion or soft persuasion rather than brute force.

Holmes graduated from the University of Ulster with a First Class BA Honours degree in Fine Art. In 2010, she won a special invitation by the Royal Ulster Academy to show at the Ulster Museum annual exhibition. Over the past two years, Holmes has shown throughout Ireland and the UK, with her first solo exhibition at Queen Street Studios Gallery in 2011. She has also been selected for many group shows at the Golden Thread Gallery, Ormeau Baths Gallery and Galway Arts Centre. In Scotland, she has exhibited with the Transmission Gallery (Glasgow) and the Embassy Gallery (Edinburgh). Shows in England have included exhibitions at The Royal Standard (Liverpool) and The Others (London).
Holmes will be showing in ‘Synthetic Aesthetics’ at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre from August 24 to September 6. She is already building a strong following, greatly admired by art collectors, curators and critics, her alternative perspective on the world is to be highly applauded.

BIO-MORPHS SERIES (2010) Lydia Holmes, triptych, 30 x 72 cms

 

SURVEILLANCING CHIMERATON (2010) Lydia Holmes, drawing on paper, 30 x 21 cms

 

Installation view of BIO-TECHNIA (2011) Lydia Holmes, Queen Street Studios Gallery, Belfast

 

 

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About Author

Born 1979 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Brendan Jamison studied for six years at the University of Ulster where he gained a BA Honours degree in Fine and Applied Arts in 2002 and then a Master of Fine Art in 2004. Over the past eight years, his sculptures have been widely exhibited throughout the world with shows in Scotland, Wales, England, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Italy, America, Canada, New Zealand, India and China. He has also been awarded residencies in New Delhi and New York. From 2006-2009, Jamison taught study skills coaching at Belfast's School of Art & Design. In 2009 he was a visting lecturer at the University of Florida. That same year, a small Jamison work was entered into the permanent collection of MoMA, New York's Museum of Modern Art, as part of the international unbound project titled 'A Book About Death'. In 2010, Jamison was commissioned by Native Land & Grosvenor to build sugar cube scale models of Tate Modern and NEO Bankside for the London Festival of Architecture. His carved sugar cube sculptures were later sold at Sotheby's (Bond Street, London) in an exhibition of contemporary art curated by Janice Blackburn. 2012 will see a carved sugar sculpture of Number 10 exhibited inside 10 Downing Street, London. Jamison has received six awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is represented in Ireland by Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin. He is represented in the UK by the Golden Thread Gallery and Dickon Hall Gallery, Belfast. Jamison enjoys considerable world-wide media coverage for his sculpture practice, with significant reviews in Sculpture Magazine, published by the International Sculpture Center in America. Other notable reviews include The Washington Times, BBC Brasil, BBC News, ITV News and Channel 5 News in the UK, The Times, London Evening Standard and Metro newspapers in London, The Hindu and The Inside Track in India, The Jakarta Post in Indonesia and The Weekly News in Scotland. In Ireland he is regularly featured in the art magazines Circa and the Irish Arts Review. Jamison is also frequently discussed on BBC Radio Ulster and reviewed in local newspapers The Irish News, News Letter, South Belfast News and Belfast Telegraph.

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