Spring stretch



What’s the concept behind Spring Stretch? Spring Stretch is a series of analog collages I made initially for an art exhibition. The inspiratio­n came from my early morning stretching routine, which was followed by a walk or jog to the beach. Along the way I noticed how the dew drops on petals and leaves sparkled when they captured the light, and I wanted to replicate that using collage.

How long did it take for each piece to come together? I would estimate a few days per collage, over two weeks. I cut out hundreds of tiny gems first, sorted them all and selected the pieces that worked well together. The gems also needed to fit the floral arrangemen­ts I’d chosen in a way that looked like they were meant to be there all along. My favourite moments are when a shadow in a stone makes it look like the foliage behind is showing through.

Where did all these different elements come from? I have an ever-expanding collection of vintage books from which I source my images. My favourite finds are on flower-arranging, indoor plants and gardening, cake-decorating, quilting and handicraft­s. I get extra excited when I manage to find a book on shells or gemstones, especially if it’s in an op shop; however I’ll pay good money for a dreamy, hard-to-find copy in a secondhand bookshop.

There’s quite a festive feel to this series – was that intentiona­l? It wasn’t, but I do love to make my own ornaments and hang them from small potted trees or branches I bring inside. So much so that I’m launching an online exhibition and web store called Alternate Ornament this month, with pieces made by some of my favourite Australian creatives.

What are your personal favourite stretches? Pigeon pose, cobra, downward dog and a butterfly stretch. I don’t have a daily yoga practice – I just find new stretches online as needed and make up my own combinatio­ns.

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to collage? Gluing all the elements down can be a painstakin­g process, especially if there are many pieces that need to be ‘knitted’ together. To help remember the layout, I take a photo on my phone. Another challenge is storage. I have so many books, and many, many cut-out images sorted according to subject and publicatio­n filling a large threedrawe­r shelving unit to the brim.

What inspires you? Recently I looked back through my Tumblr archive of saved images, and all the colours, patterns, photograph­s and GIFS were so beautiful mashed together. I think it’s a pretty accurate visual representa­tion of my mind and how I wish to see and experience the world, and it brings me to a place where trends aren’t as influentia­l as they seem to be on other platforms.

What’s your current artistic obsession? I always love visiting the Sight Unseen website – it makes me want to build really wild, colourful furniture for myself. In the past few years I’ve started incorporat­ing acrylic gouache into my collages to add more of my own style to the found images, and I’m still really enjoying it.

Where can we see more of your stuff? Online at hollyleona­ or on Instagram at @hollyleona­rdson.

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