Holly Antrum


2013, 19’17”

26 April – 2 May 2016

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Synopsis (courtesy the artist)

Catalogue is made with Jennifer Pike, artist, collaborator and 93 year-old wife of the late Bob Cobbing. The film offers observance to chance and language in the exchange between artist subject and artist filmmaker. Through the prism of simple gestures of experimentation in the everyday life of a now elderly artist the film engages with existing ideas of creative interruption and distraction around Pike and Cobbing’s work. Focusing on Pike as a catalyst of language and memory in the present, her history is touched upon by situating her within the material of the 16mm to digital film and her computer drawings Computer Dances (1995) as much as her material environment, papers and objects. Pike reveals her performance presence and interplay with the camera as she gives a reading of Cobbing’s ABC in Sound (1965) in a gallery space filled with her paintings, arranged for the film away from the setting of the home and studio. Filmed in Canonbury, North London and Camden Arts Centre, London.

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Outside Noise

“To begin with I thought it may as well consist of a turning shot panning the room, with just Jennifer’s shoulder escaping the edge as she tried to come around the back of the camera. She was always active in the small space we had, and liked to look over my shoulder as much as perform. Perhaps I should sit in front and oblige…

“The opportunity to film and make Catalogue was appropriate to my life at the time, but it required me to become quite lost in it all, unable to see the bottom. I was looking for a recording that has a natural gesture, in the way that the more times you do something the more it becomes your own.Recording sound with and without the camera also adds to this.

“Just having the equipment there is a different sort of engagement. I was building a routine with Jennifer that was about maintaining an ease that allowed her space to reveal her ongoing creativity at 93, whether that was to do with recurring thoughts about existing work which I would try to catch within long sound recordings of the room, or through watching threads of her gaze and subsequent comments: observations connecting everyday things around her with passing ideas. Over time I was in place to interpret the degree and sense in which her practice was still active. How it could be revealed had to except elderliness and poor memory but allow for ephemera and voices, curiousity and repetition. Through being with Jennifer’s observations and habits I felt a readiness for the camera to run, which in turn enabled the film to engage with one another’s presence, and thus the presence of both the equipment embedded into that relationship as much as the visibility of her history around us.

“However there’s a joke to me as analogue cameras are noisy and archaic, even eccentric, another character to mind. I’m operating the thing myself hoping you’ll excuse that I did not go to film school or invest in professionals, and I’ve skipped the nag that film is dying out in search of a workable hybrid. So the ‘performance’ of filming also gets tangled into the performance of the subject in my work. I have been using the analogue process to slow everything down at the front of the activity, to seize the gaps in coverage and feel its risks or relinquish some control. Working with Jennifer was working without a script so the narrative partly comes from the manual object standing between us and I choose a subject according to these possible crosshairs between subject and medium. Later on I worked digitally, reassessing the footage as a transmitted copy of the original, something that has almost already been ‘archived’ by being scanned, available to a new set of decisions and textures.

“Sound increasingly draws my attention and I found the opportunity to build a layered sense of space via background noise exterior and interior to the image, plentiful in a project of this length and subject matter. Such accidental punctuations – being akin to the spirit of the live performances of Bob and Jennifer – and the sense that the ‘stuff’ they were making their work from is s”till in the air or drifting over into now: perhaps they reappear tangentially like a ghost – or fade as references, to the fresh impulses of new hands… The blend of a recording based on prior observations or permeated by surprise was always to be allowed for. Then, in the captured distance re-emerging during editing, the ephemeral landscape around the human is most fascinating.”

Extract by Holly Antrum, Outside Noise, 2014

Outside Noise first published by Grand Union, Birmingham, 2014 in conjunction with ‘Holly Antrum, A Diffuse Citizen’ with writing by Holly Antrum, Jonathan P. Watts and George Vasey

Second edition printed on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Holly Antrum, Catalogue’ (2 April – 12 May 2016, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop). Edited by Holly Antrum and Jonathan P. Watts. Published by Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop 2016. To order a copy please contact

Catalogue (2012-14) has been screened in the UK and internationally, including a current solo presentation at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Flatness: Index, Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, Women’s Filmmaking in Contemporary Britain, BIMI – Birkbeck, London, The London Open, The Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2015; Make Perhaps This Out Sense of Can You (Symposium, Bob Jubile), Chelsea College of Art, London, 2015 – all comprise screening appearances of the work; as well as within a larger installation for her solo exhibition, A Diffuse Citizen at Grand Union, Birmingham, in 2014. The film project won Elephant Trust funding in 2013.

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Holly Antrum has been included in group screenings and exhibitions, recently Field Work: Of film, sound and voice, ICA (2016), London curated by Lucy Reynolds, Flatness (Online, 2013, In the House of Mr and Mrs X, Temporary Gallery, Cologne, 2013; Festival Robert Walser, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2013 and The Stone of Folly, Downstairs Gallery, Herefordshire, 2012. She was selected to exhibit in Bloomberg’s New Contemporaries in 2006 and in 2010. Holly was the first artist in residence at Grand Union (2014) and is a current recipient of the five-year artist in residence awards at the ACME Fire Station, east London (2015). She studied MA Printmaking at Royal College of Art, London (2009-2011) and BA Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art (2002-2005).

Artist’s website here.

A previous screening on Carroll / Fletcher Onscreen can be found here.

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Common Ground 10.30, mins (2016)

Catalogue, 19 mins, (2013)

To the microphone please (with Mrs Soprano), 8.10 mins, (2013)

 The Cure of Folly, 49.15 mins (2012)

Time:Distance, 11.30 mins (2011-12)

Rappel, 4.20 mins (2012)

Asides, 6.20 mins, (2011)

Movement in a Minor Familiar (Schubert Tape 5.30 mins (2010) 

Once I knew a Room, Once I knew a Forest, 6.42 mins (2006)