Featured artist

Andy Holden

Andy Holden is an artist whose work includes sculpture, large installations, painting, pop music, performance, animation, curating and multi-screen-videos. He lives and works in Bedford.

His first major exhibition was ‘Art Now: Andy Holden’ at Tate Britain (2010), in which he exhibited Pyramid Piece, an enormous knitted rock based on a small chunk of pyramid that he stole from the Great Pyramid of Giza as a boy. For the exhibition the artist travelled back to Cairo to return the rock to the place in the pyramid from which he had stolen it from 15 years year earlier. The large knitted replica of the stolen piece of rock took a year to made and was constructed using knitting machines, foam and steel.

Other solo exhibitions of his work have included ‘Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time’ at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2011), which presented a sculptural installation in the form of a library, alongside recent paintings and plaster sculptures and ‘Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity’ at the Zabludowicz Collection, London (2013). This exhibition was a seven-screen video installation including many paintings and sculptures, which explored the artists' teenage manifesto that declared art must be “both ironic and sincere at the same time”.

Holden has also staged a large number of performance artworks including Tate Britain, ICA London, Whitechapel Gallery London, and Performa New York, as well as staging performances in Dubai, Denmark, Canada, and Malta. The performances often use spoken word in a lecture form, combined with technology - such as green-screen or live motion capture - or use music and song. They are often extensions or travelling versions of the art work he is making at the time. He was also toured the UK performing with his band - The Grubby Mitts.

From 2011-2016 Holden worked on Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, a hour-long animated film which explored the idea that the world was now best understood as a cartoon and examined how physics works in cartoons. The film was first shown at Glasgow International 2016 and Venice Biennale in 2017. The film featured an animated cartoon version of the artist narrating the history of early animation as well as ideas from philosophy and physics, coupled with cartoon clips montaged together to make a new narrative. The film draws the conclusion that to understand the current world - which appears much like a cartoon - an artist must become a cartoon character. The film is structured around ten laws of physics and logic as they appear in cartoons, such as Law 1: “Any body suspended in space must remain in space until made aware of its situation”, meaning that we won't fall down, until we look down.

Holden’s subsequent work Natural Selection (2017), commissioned by Artangel, was made in collaboration with his father Peter Holden and used a detailed exploration of birds nests and eggs to explore questions of nature and nurture, and mankind’s changing relation to the natural word. The exhibition featured a scaled up willow replica of a display structure made by bowerbird, as well as 4,000 replica birds eggs made in porcelain. It also included two films, the first of which featured the artist and his father presenting a 'natural history' lecture on the materials and forms of birds nests, and the second being a 'social history' detailing the history of the collecting of birds eggs from scientific pursuit, to a common pastime hobby, to an illegal activity. The films used images of landscape paintings from art history, with the father and son appearing in the paintings through the use of green-screen technology. The exhibition toured to a number of museums including Leeds Art Gallery, Towner Gallery in Eastbourne and Bristol Museum. The works from this exhibition are now included in the permanent collection of Tate Britain and the 4,000 eggs have been acquired by Bristol Museum.

In 2018 the artist opened the gallery Ex-Baldessarre as part of his studio in Bedford, which serves as a platform for curating experimental projects. He presented a number of exhibitions including a retrospective of props and paintings by the renowned comedian Simon Munnery, as well as eclectic group shows often combining video works and sculpture.

Holden is currently the curator of ‘Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules’ which runs at Somerset House in London until 6th March. The large exhibition presents a complete history of the longest running children's comic in the world, which started in 1938. It includes many original drawings from the Beano's archive alongside contemporary works of art, mapping a history of the comic's influence on art and culture. For the exhibition Holden designed many large scale 'sets' based on scaled up sections of artwork from the comic as well as researching and writing its history.

This year Holden will be showing a series of new works as part of British Art Show 9 which is touring the UK throughout 2022. For the current exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery he has made a work based on his Grandma's collection of ceramic cats, and a video showing him unboxing the collection whilst telling stories of about his Grandma and her obsession with ceramic feline ornaments, a work devised out of one of his live performances.

He is currently 'artist in residence' at NN in Northampton, where he is researching the life of Hermione Burton, an 'outsider' artist from the area whose work he found in a charity shop, for a film and exhibition about her work.

In 2021 Slimvolume published a collection of the artist’s interviews in a book called 'Collected Free Labour', which gives insight to many of the ideas behind the artists eclectic output. You can see more images at www.andyholdenartist.com


From 'Natural Selection'


From 'Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape'


Grandma's Ceramic Cats


From 'Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape'


Pyramid Piece




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