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Painting delicate and soft tonal palettes, with visual poetics of the feminine, Ashleigh Holmes, a young local artist based in Sydney has a family steeped in art history and is quickly becoming noticed on the art scene both in Australia and abroad.
Interview with Ashleigh

Gentle, dreamy and inviting are three discerning words that Ashleigh chooses to describe her compositions. Hailing from Sydney’s Northern Beaches and a fourth-generation artist in her family, Ashleigh’s works are garnering attention at rapid pace with sell-out shows across Sydney and placed in homes from Spain to Singapore.

Delicate and soft tonal palettes, with visual poetics of the feminine, characterise her works and resonate with a modern audience and simple light-filled homes.

We caught up with Ashleigh to learn a little more about her.

You have a family lineage of artists, but can you tell us how you personally fell into painting? Was there any defining moment?

Yes! The defining moment was when I received a large-scale canvas as a gift from my Grandma, the surface area was about 120cm x 180cm, which was much larger scale than I was typically using at the time when drawing with inks on paper. The area being larger and on canvas, I felt the pull to use a medium that had more range and substance. That’s when I started using acrylic paint and quickly transitioned to only painting on canvas.

What steers the composition and colour palettes of your art? Do you see it changing with time?

My compositions change often, I’m sure it’s because I’m always curious to try new ideas and concepts. My colour palettes stay within a particular range that I like to work with, this comes down to preference. I like the way the colours I use make me feel and that’s the motivation to keep mixing / creating tones that have a grounding, muted and natural feeling. I’m sure my work will keep changing, like chapters in life that keep evolving.

At only 25 years old you were exhibiting in Malaga, Spain (home of Picasso). Can you tell us a bit more about this?

It started with an email opportunity and ended with a plane ticket to Spain. It was the chance to participate in a group show in Spain with Artists from all across the globe. This was such a great opportunity and I’m so glad we went over to Spain to view the show in person. I was able to introduce myself to the lovely locals as an Australian Artist, which I had never done prior to exhibiting outside of Australia.

Malaga is located in the South of Spain, the atmosphere is really beautiful as are the people. I feel honoured to have shown my work there. The trip also led me to travel through London, Berlin and France which has in hindsight changed my work again.

What is it about the Northern Beaches?

The biggest benefit for me living on the Northern Beaches is having resources at arm’s reach, it’s not often you can be in the industrial arts district of Brookvale collecting materials for painting and then a 5-minute drive be swimming at a beautiful beach. We have access to nature walks, coastal living whilst having the benefits of the city close by. For my journey as an Artist, I feel the community has supported me and I feel very thankful and grateful for that opportunity.

What do you like to do when you’re not painting?

I love cooking, learning about flavour combinations and visiting new restaurants – Sydney has a great array of restaurants with beautiful architecture and food. Getting a coffee and going for a swim in the ocean is a regular occurrence. I play guitar at home and have recently started to knit again haha which is a meditative slow pace activity. I’d say most of my favourite things circle back to creativity and all play a role in my practise.

Three books you’ve loved of late?

  • Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Frida by Hayen Herrera
  • Ikigai : The Japanese Secret to a long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia

Favourite wine or winemaker?

Pinot Noir