Holly Greenwood

‘Raw, slippery and familiar,’ is the description Holly Greenwood ascribes to her paintings. Over the past six-months, the 24-year-old artist has been focusing on her latest series, fuelled by an epic road trip around Australia.

Holly’s exhibition Bush to Pub opened yesterday at Saint Cloche in Sydney, and will be on show until July 2nd.

Elle Murrell

Holly studied art at UNSW Art & Design before deciding to take her own approach. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Holly’s exhibition ‘Bush to Pub’ is on until July 2nd at Saint Cloche in Sydney. Pot by Anita Mbitjana Ratara from Hermannsburg PottersPhoto – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

The exhibition features oil-on-canvas, gouache-on-paper and bark artworks, such as ‘Broken Hill House’ on river red gum bark. ‘A classic old mining town full of character and charm,’ says Holly of the work’s namesake town. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Studio details. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

The artist painting in her studio. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

The body of work is inspired by Holly and her boyfriend’s recent trip around Australia – from Sydney through South Australia,  across the Nullarbor to Denmark Western Australia, before heading up the coast to Broome, and on to Kimberley, Kununurra, Katherine and Kakadu, before their last leg leading home via Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and Broken Hill. Pictured: ‘Regeneration. WA’ and ‘Riverbed Dreaming’, the latter of which was painted on a riverbed, while Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos perched on a branch watching from above. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Holly in her Paddington home studio. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Oil-on-paper works ready to be framed: ‘Motel Living. Across the Nullabor’, ‘Larrimah Wayside Inn’ and ‘Springwood bathroom’. Holly is often drawn to faded interiors, ‘the 1950’s tiling and teal motel chairs in an isolated landscape… familiar and distinct.’ Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Detail of artwork by Holly. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Artist Holly Greenwood is exhibiting Bush to Pub until July 2nd at Saint Cloche gallery in SydneyPhoto – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
22nd of June 2017

Crossing the Nullarbor near the WA border, exhausted and sick of being in the car, artist Holly Greenwood and her partner stopped off for a beer and some chips at a pub. ‘It was a Saturday and all the locals were crowded inside watching a footy game. Despite the fact we were in the middle of nowhere, there was such a familiarity about the place,’ she recalls. They got back on the road, and before they knew it, were again completely surrounded by red dirt and faded shrubs, as if the pub had been ‘swallowed up by the bush’.

Such encounters have been channelled into Holly’s Bush to Pub series, which is currently on show at Saint Cloche in Sydney. ‘They are a representation of the many towns and communities dotted across Australia, separated by vast and changing landscapes,’ she defines. While the land has been a persistent source of inspiration for the young artist, the way she sees and interprets it continues to constantly evolve. ‘I’m drawn to an Australian aesthetic that it disappearing – the old pubs with faded tiles and peeling paint that haven’t been renovated, and the places untouched by tourism,’ Holly explains. ‘I want to capture the sense of that before it disappears.’

Holly paints in her Paddington home, and also out among the landscapes her works depict. ‘Although I love the practicality and control of working in the studio, the immediacy and excitement of working either in a pub or out in the bush is inspirational,’ she says, describing working rapidly in a race against the weather, or throughout lively pub banter. It is in these scenarios that Holly finds she doesn’t have the time to worry about end results, and enjoys the process all the more.

Growing up in an artistic family, Holly was exposed to film from a very young age (as the daughter of an acclaimed actor) and was encouraged to express herself creatively. Art caught her interest in school, and she went on to study painting at COFA (now UNSW Art & Design). ‘I learned a lot there and made some amazing friends, however I felt I had a good structure at home in my studio, and so I discontinued the course… but continued to pursue painting in the way that worked for me,’ she tells. In between part-time work, Holly sought to make time for painting, but ultimately decided she needed to focus on it solely, to fully commit to producing work.

‘It’s challenging for anyone to forge a creative career, and to believe in yourself and keep going,’ Holly tells. For one, she’s found support on Instagram, where she’s made meaningful connections with other artists. ‘The challenge is to keep yourself motivated and maintain a structure within your practice,’ she reflects. ‘A trip to the bush helps me maintain momentum and clarity.’

Bush to Pub’ by Holly Greenwood
June 21st to July 2nd
Saint Cloche
37 MacDonald Street, Paddington, Sydney

Recent Art