2018 Artist Entry

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Nicola Holgate


As a predominantly figurative artist, ​I am particularly interested in portraiture and stories.
My work is more often than not inspired by my immediate environment and those who move through it.
What could be more interesting than people?


Nicola Holgate is a figurative painter and sculptor.

Her primary focus being her community, environment and her own history, she is best known for her portraits of people, real or imagined from these themes. She seeks to portray not only a likeness but also the personality and context of the subject.

Living in Botswana for 16 years, she focused on the creation and implementation of many community projects, offering her experience and skills as a graphic and web designer, not only as a creative outlet but also a means to carve a place in her community from which she drew inspiration and material.

She was resident in Gaborone from 2000 to 2016, now repatriated to her home country South Africa, choosing to settle in Cape Town.

She has occupied a studio at Greatmore Art Studios since February 2018.

Web site: http://www.nicolaholgate.com


Artist: Nicola Holgate VideoART!
Title: Love Letters, 2018
Medium: Stop Motion Video
Size: H:0 W:0 D:0
Edition:0 Price:R0


Love Letters

(Dreaming into a dolls house )

​After almost 18 months of making a dolls house, its finally no longer this thing in my head, what a relief not only for myself but for those around me to see what I’ve been aiming for…I’ve had a lot of head tilting puzzlement to contend with. Not helped by my mumbled explanation because I really didn’t know what I was doing either. So now, here it is, this massive creation that happened, all made from recycled and found objects.

Its been really interesting to witness how people respond to it. The most recurring reaction is this natural tendency to “dream into” it. This term “dreaming into” is something I heard from my friend, a practicing psychotherapist.

I have been aware of the therapeutic aspect of a dolls house my whole life, having lived in my own as a child. So this lovely phrase resonated for me. Of course, this is exactly what we do in play, this dreaming and enacting.

He told me of a Doctor J.L. Moreno who came up with the concept of psycho drama. A practice that has been used for individuals as well as entire communities to understand and process trauma or conflict. The concept involves role play, story telling, and witness. This allows the protagonist to step back and view their own story from all sides. To analyse actions, thoughts and choices connected to an event or a problem.

Is this not what a dolls house allows also?

Our conversation led on to to all the details and layers in our lives and homes, these things that when represented in a dolls house allows the illusion of a reality. We dreamed together about the personal life this woman in the house may have, and the glaring absence of a male figure…because I haven’t made one…yet.

The image of a bunch of letters tied with ribbon came up. Personal things; letters, jewelry, papers.

A treasure box in the house, things you wont or cant immediately see. What a sweet layer that would be .

The idea of course stuck and manifested in a little video complete with historical background and appropriate sound track.

​The song in question is a sweet and poignant one, originally written for a screen play in 1945, it was put on the map later by Ketty Lester who sang it in a gospel style for the first time and gave it a whole new lease on life. This is the version I chose. It has been covered by so many others; Elvis, Tom Jones, Allison Moyet and many more in between and since.

The love letters themselves were written by famous people. Some surprising and some we all know about, like Beethoven’s “immortal beloved” The copied letters (including Beethoven’s) were written by Burt Reynolds, Winston Churchill , Zelda Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Hendrix. What a motley crew.

In the spirit of the recycled and found materials nature of the house itself, I made the video using a free app on my cell phone, using no more than about 30 images. I feel it tied into the ethos of using what you have and making it work.