Martha Holmes has a rare gift for colour. That much is apparent as soon as we enter her beautiful, calm studio in Falmouth. Palettes covered in huge splashes of paint track her explorations in paint and the colours preserved on them show her great skill in creating harmony even in bright, joyful tones.
Her work explores colour and light of the Cornish landscape and the resulting abstracted paintings that are a joy to behold.
We were lucky enough to be introduced to Martha by our friend and collaborator, photographer Jenna Foxton, and travelled to her studio to shoot our Manchada Collection.
We fell instantly in love with Martha’s work, and knew we had to share it with you.
Where do you seek inspiration?
The inspiration for my work has always rooted from the landscape that surrounds where I live in Cornwall, specifically the composition of colour, shape and form that builds up these exterior spaces. These core elements have become the principle ‘touch points’ in my paintings which I refer back to as I develop new bodies of work. More recently I’ve begun to notice the interior space of the studio influencing the form of new paintings - organic shapes from hand pinched ceramics, marks from previous paintings and jugs of seasonal flowers full of deep hues that dot the studio, have encouraged new marks and layers in the works.
What do you hope your work can give people?
I hope people take a sense of energy yet calmness form my work - the large flat planes of colour give a sense of escapism and openness - feelings that are often felt when immersed in the landscape. Perhaps the paintings will allow people to look and observe the landscape differently to how they know it, applying that way of looking to other environments in their day to day lives.
What’s been the most valuable lesson making artwork has taught you?
The importance of looking - and how as an artist, this process opens up a whole new way of thinking and considering the total spatial dynamic of an environment. Learning to become more attuned to the way light, colour, shape, seasonality, the presence of people, sound, etc alters a space, allows you to produce work that is far more considered and deep rooted.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
The sense of the ‘unknown’ is something I love about being an artist…not knowing how a painting is going to evolve. There is always a loose sense of direction, perhaps a particular place or colour in mind or a sketch that exists in a simple form, but how these will translate into new collections of work is always exciting. Sometimes a 20 piece collection can simply form from a mark seen in the landscape or a shape you’ve repeatedly noticed overtime.
Alongside the process, the community that surrounds you is so special - meeting other practising artists and discussing each others work and learning from one another is such a valuable asset to being an artist.
And the worst…?
The doubts - there are days when you really trust yourself and the direction of your work, but there are many times when you find yourself over thinking what you are doing and this never produces the best work. Overthinking, which I am guilty of, can be your worst enemy in the studio - thinking is brilliant and sparks new ideas, yet the overthinking stops the flow of the work and energy. The overthinking can often be a sign that I’ve spent too much time in the studio and need to get out and refresh my mind and fill my notebooks with new thoughts. Or sometimes a simple dip in the sea can sort it out!
What does home mean to you?
Home is a place that allows a rich and wonderful sense of identity - a place that is an insight into the way you think, work, host, decorate…. My parents have incredible taste in interiors and design, so growing up the objects in our home had a real sense of meaning, crafted for specific spaces, paired with a sense of the outside within. The way natural light moved throughout the home, the jugs of foliage and garden cuttings that dotted the house and the way windows and doors were left open in the spring and summer allowing fresh air and a sense of the seasons to be present.
In a rambling sort of way, home to me would consist of; white space, jugs of flowers, lots of artwork, found objects, antiques with stories, calm empty spaces, natural light, order with elements of chaos and places to sit, chat and host.
Where would we find you during the late afternoon?
Probably in the studio! Or perhaps catching the last of the afternoon sun at the beach, having a swim and reading an art journal.