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Gillian Holding/ARTIST INFO

Many of my paintings at first glance seem to be abstract explosions of colour. Looked at more closely, you may see anonymous, hard-to-read figures emerging from the shapes and marks, often struggling to escape the confines of the canvas. Sometimes a pig motif appears: I love the ambiguity of the pig. No one knows what to make of pig. Intelligent or stupid? Clean or dirty? I see this motif as a metaphor for uncertainty and ambiguity.

When I start a painting and make my first marks on the canvas with the brush, I have no idea what direction the work will go and what images will emerge. I like this starting point of not-knowing, allowing the process to be guided by the unconscious and intuition. Often if I create abstract shapes in the first stage, these give way to forms and figures which suggest themselves and are then refined and almost carved out by the painting process. I work mostly with oil paint but often mix painting with elements of collage. I never want to feel tied to any one medium and as soon as I think I don’t want to work using x, y, z, I invariably start to use x, y, z. I like the way all these disconnected and juxtaposed elements and processes makes it more difficult to categorise what I do and so challenges the obsession many have these days to categorise, label and box anything.


We are living in a post truth world of contradiction and uncertainty, hypnotised and paralysed. Each day sees a new set of conflicting and contradictory facts and interactions. Our lived experiences of our familiar everyday often seem at odds with  the packaged alternative reality mediated by omnipresent social and mainstream media in a digital world. The inescapable sense of contradiction which results when confronted by mediated “reality” increases feelings of alienation, helplessness, fragility and entrapment. My experiencing of this lies at the heart of my work. Whilst working intuitively, the processes and materials are often disruptive and disjunctive and reflect this experience as much as the resulting final ambiguous imagery of pigs and abstracted figures lost and trapped in their surroundings.

Gillian Holding 2022


Art Education and awards

2009 Leeds Metropolitan University BA FineArt (First Class Honours)

2009 Historical & Critical Studies Prize, Leeds Metropolitan University

2000-2005 Open College of the Arts Painting Levels 1-3, all awarded A grade


Solo exhibitions/projects

2021 Lockdown Product, Artifact Gallery New York

2018 Anamnesis, East Street Arts, Leeds

2016  Holy Land (reprise) Espacio Gallery, London

2016 Kanzleraltar, Left Bank Gallery, Leeds

2016 Fatal Intersections, Opposite Gallery, Leeds

2015 The Holy Land (reprise) Artifact Gallery, Orchard Street, New York

2014 Space Unfolding, Espacio Gallery, London (cur. with Junko ONeill)

2013 The Holy Land (a 21st century travelogue), Oasis School of Human Relations, Tadcaster

2013 Edgelands of Leeds II, Devoted To Gallery, Redbrick Mill, Batley

2013 Edgelands of Leeds I, Reliance Bar Gallery, Leeds, cur. East Street Arts

2012 Westbourne Grove: A Portrait of Everyday, Debut Contemporary Gallery, London

2011 Same Difference (Reprise) Etz Chaim Gallery, London

2011 Action | Reaction G2 Gallery, Solihull

2010 Same Difference, South Square, Bradford

2008 Hubris and the City, Fine Art Gallery, Leeds Metropolitan University


Selective/curated Group Exhibitions

2022 Leeds Summer Group Show, Leeds Playhouse

2019 Leeds Art Prize 2019, Left Bank Leeds

2018 Earth, Kunsthuis , North Yorks

2017 Draw, Thought Foundation, Gateshead

2017 World Turned Upside Down, Leeds

2016 Jerusalem, St Edmunds Church, Leeds

2015 Stations of the Cross, St Edmunds Church, Leeds

2014 Same But Different, Leeds cur. The Bowery

2014 The Other Art Fair, London

2013 Clowning Around (video projection) collab. with Addictive Media, Leeds Light Night

2013 Art Vend, Woolgather Art Project, Leeds

2013 Art Cloud 1, Festival of Contemporary Visions, Florence

2013 A Retrospective of Jewish Art, Etz Chaim, Leeds

2013 Art of Angel, Candid Arts, London

2012 The Other Art Fair, London

2012 Olympics Touring Exhibition, cur. Sara Raza

2012 Shift, Hundred Years Gallery, Hoxton, London E2, cur.Ana Papoola

2012 Dead of Night, Leeds Light Night

2012 Failure ,Hundred Years Gallery, Hoxton, London E2, cur.Ana Papoola

2012 Whitecross St Festival, Maison Twenty, London EC2, cur. Danielle Hodson

2012 Regents Canal Festival, TheArt Pavilion Mile End, London E3, cur. Maria Teresa Gargozo

2011 Headingley Arts Trail, The Bowery, Leeds

2011 On The Edge Arts Festival, Temple Works, Leeds

2011 Copy/Paste, Harehills Business Centre, Leeds

2010 Melange, Leeds Light Night cur, Moira Innes

2010 South Square Salon, South Square Gallery, Bradford




2017 Project Space Artist-in-Residence, East Street Arts, Leeds UK

2017 Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, USA

2016 Left Bank Arts Council England residency, Leeds UK




2014 International Contemporary Masters Volume 9

2013 International Contemporary Masters Volume 8

2012 Olympics Touring Exhibition catalogue, ed. Sara Raza

2011 Through the Veil of Orientalism (ed. Disegnodiverso, Italy)

2011 The Candle Building (A Visual Gazetteer)Artists' book project by Waymarking, Leeds

2010-present Art and Life blog




Work held in numerous private collections across UK, France, Italy and the US, and in a number of institutions in Leeds available to public view.

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