London-based artist, Holly Slingsby, is one of the judges for this year’s Nottingham Castle Open, alongside artist Emily Speed and Robert Malbert, Senior Curator at Hayward Touring. Slingsby’s artistic practice centres on the performative. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, in countries such as Finland, Italy and Canada. As well as an artist, Slingsby is a Gallery Manager at Matt’s Gallery, London. This East-London gallery, established in the 1970s by Robin Klassnik, has long been proud of the fact that it works with exhibiting artists in order to develop their work. We invited Jennifer Gleadell to speak to Slingsby about her work and how she became involved with Nottingham Castle Open this year.
[Jennifer Gleadell] Holly, as you are a London based artist, how did you become involved with the Nottingham Castle Open?
[Holly Slingsby] I was invited to be a selector by Tristram Aver, the Castle's Exhibition Officer. We met at a Contemporary Art Society event in Nottingham and started to discuss the various artists we know and have worked with. It just went from there and I'm really pleased to be involved.
[JG] I want to find out a bit about your own work. You are primarily a performance artist; can you tell us a bit about your practice?
[HS] My work centres around the performative and usually consists of live works with props and costumes which I make and find. I'm preoccupied with religious and mythical imagery, how it has developed over the centuries and how certain symbols are adopted and adapted as they pass from paganism into devout religion and then into contemporary consumer culture. My performances relate a lot to the history of painting, but I'm also fascinated by the ways female saints and deities are depicted, and how our use of the internet is increasingly performative - those are things I'm thinking about in my studio at the moment.
A portion of your strength, Holly Slingsby, 2013, performance.
[JG] What is your role at Matt’s gallery, the highly successful gallery in East London which gives equal weighting to artistic development and showcasing artistic talent, and how will this inform your role as judge?
[HS] I'm the Gallery Manager for Sales and Representation at Matt's Gallery, which means I liaise with the artists on their projects elsewhere, and also work on placing pieces in collections. Matt's Gallery is an incredibly special place in that it gives artists the rare opportunity to have time and space to develop work, not just show something they've already made. Being there gives me an insight into the working practices of a lot of artists whose work I respect. That sense of the importance of process and risk-taking is definitely something that informs me when I look at art. When you're selecting a show from a large quantity of submissions the things which are innovative and risky always stand out.
[JG] What are you most looking forward to about this process?
[HS] I'm looking forward to seeing the works that are submitted and learning more about the art scene in the Midlands, which seems to be really thriving from what I know of it. I'm also looking forward to working with the other selectors, discussing the works and hopefully showcasing some really strong artistic practice.
Interview by Jennifer Gleadell
Photos courtesy of Holly Slingsby