Weight of Loss

Porcelain paper-clay
Dimensions variable

About the artwork

Fire ravaged Cape Town in 2021, destroying fynbos, heritage buildings, art and literature – such as the Jagger Library’s African Studies collection. In the salvage operations, paper and film – fragile materials loaded with history – were recovered. In response, Holmes created memory repositories: delicate, fragile porcelain-paper-clay boxes to ‘preserve’ what was lost. Holmes stokes the debate around decolonising tertiary curricula, offering an opportunity to move towards a more inclusive system in a future where knowledge and information are collected and catalogued within a framework of political, social, economical, environmental and cultural parity. 

Laurel Holmes

The further we move from the natural world, the further we move from knowing ourselves and our place in the world, our connection and relationship with the human and non-human, the less curious we become about this complex interconnected planet we live on. This is largely the premise that much of my work is based on. As a South African artist, my creative work is drawn from a strong attachment to this land, its beauty and inherent intelligence and the exceptional diversity of life it supports. A deep love for natural places and solitude, and acknowledgment of their role in spiritual restoration, strongly impacts my work. An interest in the indigenous flora of this country comes from generations of farming and gardening.

My chosen media are painting and printmaking and recently, more experimental works using mixed media, where a process of layering builds complex, intriguing surfaces. Markmaking, the richness of paint and the chance of accidental results from allowing spontaneity to find its way into the artmaking process offsets a fascination with detail. My artworks are an intuitive articulation of a response to my environment, informed by the observation of the patterns and order of forms that occur in nature.

In 2012, Holmes left corporate life to concentrate solely on artmaking. Over the years of her creative practice, inspiration and reference has repeatedly been rooted in the Cape landscape, where she now lives. Her painting training has been with Karin Daymond and Ricky Burnett.

Although working mainly in painting (oils on canvas) and ongoing experimentation with wax encaustic and other media, printmaking came into the mix through a baptismal workshop at The Artists’ Press in 2013, and in 2014/5, workshops with Sharon Sampson Studio and in 2019, two internships at Warren Editions, under the guidance of masterprinter Zhané Warren.

Holmes received an Honours in Fine Art (with distinction) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2021, working in porcelain paper clay, on a body of work titled Weight of loss (which can be seen on the pages Artist Books, Drawing and Ceramics).

Holmes has paintings and print works in private international and local collections as well as in South African corporates.