Jessica Holmes’ work sits on the cusp of exterior and interior, as rambling vegetation and peeling, decaying surface are brought together in painting, borrowing from Dutch Vanitas painting and Japanese screen design. Distant memories of wilderness walks in the Catskills are overlaid with the clarity of a domestic still life.
Her paintings show an unnatural glass-house luster – plants that flower at different times of year blooming together in a state of perpetual spring exploring the flora of the Catskills, both native and introduced, as viewed through the lens of the collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London. Many of these species were transplanted from their natural habitat by the botanist-adventurers of the 18th and 19th century. They left the dark woods, and tumbling streams, and were catalogued and ordered at the heart of the British Empire.
The plants in these works are actively exploring – trying to find their ways around and through the paintings themselves. They sprout up through the composition to leave the work, negotiating the angles, holes and crevices of the ground up to the light, in a movement that records a pure wild state, beyond botanical analysis.