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Plates and Jugs, Villa Margaux
Watercolour collage

Julia Holderness

Julia Holderness lives and works in Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury in 2002 and an Honours in Visual Arts at AUT University, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland in 2015. In 2022 Holderness completed a Visual Arts PhD in practice-led research at AUT University. Her thesis titled “Ever Present Archiving: methodologies for art histories through invention, fabrication and social practice” explores archives and their construction of art-historical narratives.

Julia was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship and won the Glaister Ennor Graduate Art Award in 2016. Other projects include Villa Margaux for Sanderson Contemporary in 2023, a series in Living Room, an exhibition with Objectspace Ōtautahi at the Sir Miles Warren Gallery, curated by Kim Paton and Caroline Billing, her PhD exhibition Schemes for Vibrant Living at Te Wai Ngutu Kākā Gallery, AUT, The Studio, which was developed for Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2021, Florence & Florence: Other Textile Histories presented at Ilam Campus Gallery in 2018 and Gallery 91 for SCAPE Public Art in 2017.

Julia’s practice and outputs are often collaborative and she works alongside both historic and current artists. In creating narratives that might or might not have existed – encompassing artists, groups, movements, and exhibitions – her research practice deliberates on the role of fiction in both the collection and interpretation of material histories. She critiques traditionally held divides between art historical scholarship and artistic fabrication. Through the use of invented personae, artworks and exhibitions, Holderness traces alternative histories of modernism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her installations combine mixed media fabrications, often textile and ceramic making with historical materials from art and design archives. She also produces sound and text works within these installations. Holderness’s collaborative work as Fitts & Holderness has seen her participate in exhibitions and residencies both nationally and internationally.



“With Florence Weir, I am in some sense proposing a form of time travel, though not one defined by dates or periods. Weir’s insertion in the historical record enables a 
traversing across art movements, styles and mediums, and the forging of new and 
hypothetical collaborations. Florence could be considered something of a paradox: on one hand she leads us,openly into the past, while at the same time there is something spectral about her. She can be thought of as a metaphorical ghost – a term that conveys – a figure with diminished presence, as in a shadow or semblance, a trace or a remote possibility. Ghosts not only provide a metaphor for understanding our relationship with suppressed or overlooked histories, but they also suggest methods for practices of rehabilitation and reconstruction.  While she is missing from canonical art-historical records, her shadow and trace still flickers. I am searching for her possibility in untold histories.

Working across the fields of design, craft and ‘fine’ art, Weir produced textile designs, watercolour paintings, ceramics and wallpaper samples. In this regard she resembles many other multidisciplinary women artists – such as Frances Hodgkins, whose work as a textile designer was largely overshadowed by her painting oeuvre. The practice explores liaisons between design, craft and art and this position of convergence is reinforced through Florence’s diverse career.”

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