Embodied, scored, and arranged. These are the words British artist Erin Holly uses to describe the deeply personal artistic process behind her highly anticipated debut London exhibition, A Trans Arrangement of The Painted Space.
The exhibition unveils Holly’s new series of oil paintings depicting colourful and semifictional fabrications of interior spaces. Coinciding with Trans Awareness Week (13 -19 November), the exhibition offers a critical exploration of interior environments, their connection with the politics of space and inclusion, contemporary social categorisations, and most pertinently, Holly’s journey with her identity and understanding of embodiment.
The series presents luminous and imaginary depictions of lounges, hallways, studies, and bathrooms – symbolic spaces that shed light on the contentious argument of accessibility for transgender, non-binary and intersex individuals. It's a dialogue that resonates with the urgent call for equal rights, making A Trans Arrangement of the Painted Space a testament to Holly's commitment to progress and change.
Inspired by DIY manuals and interior advertisements from the 1950s through to the present day, Holly’s paintings function as restructurings of space. As Holly states: I am deeply involved with the process of unlearning and undoing, remaking and rebuilding as a way to find spaciousness in my practice and work.
Existing outside of reality, these radiant paintings hold an emotive potency, as well as subversive possibilities to the eyes that view them, asking viewers to interrogate new ways of seeing and understanding their surrounding space. Holly sees this restructuring of space as akin to a musical arrangement, where the source material is ‘rearranged’ from its original form into something new that holds and gives space to the viewer.
The exhibition marks a significant milestone in Holly’s artistic portfolio. Having graduated from the City and Guilds School of Art in London, Holly’s practice has shifted from public large-scale murals spanning North and South America, Europe and Australia, to navigating the confines of the gallery space. This artistic identity is deeply intertwined with Holly’s work, as she manipulates colour to guide the viewer through these structures, without the constraints of a fixed gaze. A deft control of colour, minimal tonal contrasts, and deliberately blurred or unfinished segments come together to create a purposeful absence, a conscious disruption of norms that seeks to question the learned ideologies attached to architectural spaces.
Presented on the first floor of JD Malat Gallery, the exhibition welcomes visitors to explore a deeply personal journey, influenced by Holly’s experiences, intuition, and a continuous process of unlearning, remaking, and rebuilding. Filled with ethereal imaginary compositions that possess a sense of openness and vastness, A Trans Arrangement of The Painted Space gives viewers space to reflect on their own authentic sense of ‘self’, and question how that authentic ‘self’ can occupy space in the real world.