Hollie Mackenzie is a Kent-based sculptor with a passion for political arts and exploring ‘the impossible Utopia’. She was the first ever winner of the Winter Pride Arts Award, and has been incredibly busy this year planning and preparing for The University of Kent at Canterbury’s LGBT History month, which will play host a vast and eclectic mix of art in February. We managed to grab her briefly for a quick interview about her work, the Art Trail and LGBT history month:
Hi Hollie, thanks for chatting to us today. To start off with, it would be great if you could tell us a little bit about your own training and arts practice…
Hi Amie, I have always been creative and had a constant interest in architecture and textures, especially when attempting to create texture within my paintings. However, it was only in my last year in BA Fine Art at Art University Bournemouth that I became a sculptor and my struggle with creating texture on 2D was finally fulfilled in 3D.
It was whilst I was creating ‘Downfall’ that I deepened my interest in the politics behind art and the impossible Utopia. Inspired to further extend my political knowledge and the conceptual quality of my art in order to explore Utopian ideals and change, I chose to study the MA in Political Theory and Practices of Resistance at the University of Kent in 2012. It is here where I formed the hypothesis for my PhD research, which I began in September 2014, and co-authored ‘A Labial Art-Politics’ with Dr Iain MacKenzie which is now published in Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest.
Learning has become an important aspect within my research and artistic practice, as I attempt to merge together an artistic practice and a philosophy of art and aesthetics, aiming to create both scholarly work and artistic encounters that convey my feminist philosophy of ‘labial’ art-politics. I believe that living on the edge of learning could be the ultimate resistance itself, beacuse we are dogmatic if we think that thought is aimed at knowing. It is through learning that we can resist the dominant/dogmatic phallic nature of thought and practice.
The LGBT History Month Team have organised a varied and full schedule of events taking place this February at the University of Kent at Canterbury, what inspired you to get involved with organising the Art Trail?
I was honoured to have been asked by Sebastian (the LGBT History Month at Kent Coordinator) and excited at the opportunity to be involved in the first LGBT History Month Art Trail at Kent! As a practicing artist and University of Kent student, I wanted to contribute what I could artistically to the LGBT History Month team to help make it the largest university LGBT History Month and the best one in the university’s history!
In 2014 I was awarded the first Winter Pride UK Arts Award. Inspired by Winter Pride UK’s creative project and successful event, I felt motivated to continue their message from Winter Pride’s UK 2014 LGBT Luminary of the Year, Stephen Fry: ‘Artistic and cultural events of this kind are so important for the wellbeing of the LGBT community’.
The LGBT History Month Art Trail at Kent is already shaping up to be an exciting month long exhibition, with a beautiful display of paintings, photographs, films and sculpture from a diverse range of artists.
We’re especially excited about the Art Trail you’re hosting, can you tell us a little bit about it, and what visiting audiences can expect to find?
Presenting an Art Trail located throughout the Canterbury campus at the University of Kent, LGBT History Month has art from:
- “Retrorandomist” Olivier Tafforin (oliviertafforin.com)
- Explicit drawings from anonymous artist MAK
- Expressive figure paintings from Alla Bogdanovic (facebook.com/pages/AvroraArt-Artist-Page)
- Gaze-disrupting work from Dr Lola Frost (kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/people/lolafrost)
- Contemporary landscape paintings by Emily Pughe (emily-photography.com)
- Art which questions gender identities by Mandy Niewöhner (mandyniewohner.com)
- Sublime paintings by Olivia McDonagh
- Eventful photographs by Chris Henry (chrishenryphotography.wordpress.com)
- Paintings of geometric otherworldly solitude and isolation by Joella Wheatley (joellawheatley.co.uk)
- Kathryn Cutler-MacKenzie explores an alternative form of conversation in her film
- Laim Roger’s video art concerns self-portraiture and reliving the remembered moment (liamrogers.com)
- Objects created by Gillian Duffy with the idea that they held life and knowledge (gillianduffy.com),
- Dripping wooden sculptures by Hollie Mackenzie (mackenzieartist.co.uk).
To launch the LGBT History Month at the University of Kent and the Art Trail, we will be holding a Launch Party on Monday 2nd February in Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury 7pm-10pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/746769218738908/?ref=5).
On Friday 6th February at 6pm-7pm, Dr Lola Frost, Leverhulme Artist in Residence at Kings College London, Winter Pride UK Arts Award winner Hollie Mackenzie, and Dr Iain MacKenzie from the Centre for Critical Thought will discuss the possibilities of art and how they have explored these possibilities as practices of resistance (https://www.facebook.com/events/1508485719413875/?ref=5). Throughout the month we will have a Facebook voting poll for the public to decide the UKC LGBT History Month Peoples’ Choice Art Award! (https://www.facebook.com/LGBThistorymonthUKC/timeline) The winner will then be announced at the Awards Ceremony and Closing Party on Friday 27th February by Winter Pride UK Founder, Rebecca Paisis during her talk at 6pm-7pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/605936152841675/?ref=5).
What event are you most looking forward to?
As one of the presenters on Friday 6th February, I am looking forward to collaborating with artist Dr Lola Frost and political theorist Dr Iain MacKenzie to discuss the possibilities of art. I am interested to see how perspectives from different fields can come together to explore this subject.
You’ve clearly been hugely involved in LGBT history month, could you tell us what it means to you, and why it’s important?
It is important to know that LGBT has a history, and to appreciate that people fought for this history with their rights. Although it is important to appreciate this every day, the point of having a month dedicated to it is to not only celebrate this, but to continue to make society aware that LGBT people are still suffering from discrimination, mental health issues and isolation. This month represents the LGBT community: its people, its support and its creativity. Without creativity, it’s difficult to change the landscape. That’s why, following Stephen Fry, LGBT art events are so important.
You can find more out about Hollie here:
Follow me on Twitter: @MackenzieArtist
Like me on Facebook: Mackenzie Artist
(C) Hollie Mackenzie and Amie Taylor (@spoonsparkle) for The LGBTQ Arts and Culture Review