In conversation with

In Conversation With: Grace Van Holle

For our first "In Conversation With" of 2021, we are pleased to share with you our interview with Portuguese photographer Grace Van Holle. Discover her works as she explores the world through different lenses.
21st January 2021 | Image Curators Advisory
Flora Series; Untitled, 2017, Kodak color 35mm film, magnified effects,13 x 20 cm (currently a continuous series). Courtesy: The Artist.
Grace You Are A Documentary And Abstract Photographer, Where Did This Passion Begin And When Have You Decided To Take It On A Professional Level?
I have always been an admirer of film, especially Western European cinema from the 1940s to the 1960s. There is such a joy in the exploration of films and story-telling during that time that pulled me towards a documentary and abstract approach to my photography. I love shooting in film and half the time I don’t really have a key sense of what I want to shoot but I just go with it, like right now I’m focusing on a series of flora.
I decided to pursue Photography after attending an art course in the south of France when I was younger where photography was an option and I fell in love with the medium. I enjoy trying to tell a story with what I’m photographing, even if at times I have no idea what that is.

Successive Moments, 2011, Fuji color 35mm film, multiple exposures, 52 x 150 cm. Courtesy: The Artist.
Your Practice Spans From Travel, Fashion, Landscapes, Nature, And Lifestyle Photography. What Is Your Favorite Subject To Photograph And Why?
Being able to photograph nature when I’m traveling is probably my favorite. There are no rules but the ones you create for yourself. I guess that’s where the documentary element plays in. I don’t like feeling the expectations of others. Lifestyle can be great fun as I really do enjoy portraiture and when that light is hitting just right I can spend hours moving around people, but I do have to take into consideration people’s time so it’s another ball game entirely.
Can You Tell Us About The Video Art, 59th Floor, You Made? What Inspired You And What Was The Process Of Making It? (Have You Released Other Videos?)
59th Floor was filmed right after University and while I was living in New York. I was stuck in that overwhelming mindset I guess most people have after graduating of “ok, what next?”
Black and white flora; Untitled, 2018, black and white 35mm film, 40 x 27 cm (currently a continuing series). Courtesy: The Artist.
Mixed with this naïve thought that New York would give me the answer. It represents the imbalance of wanting to fit in with the New York state of mind and yet not managing to find my place. I picked up my camera and played around with the room I was in. I played with the idea of feeling caged but also having all of New York City at my disposal. It’s a beautiful city, but on the 59th floor, where I was, it can also make you feel a little vertigo.

Since then I have also made a mini-documentary about a traditional Portuguese cake which is made every Christmas and how family is deeply rooted in the process of making it. It was all in good fun; I do desperately wish to make more videos. When something really inspires me, I’m sure I will.

You Have Been Working As A Photographer For Several Years, Shooting In Many Countries. How Did You Build Your Physical And Mental Resilience?
Yes, several years now, but it’s a rather fickle job. You can have work some days and then nothing for a while, inspiration some days and then nothing for a while. Building resilience is difficult especially as I shoot for myself mostly and that’s how I like it. To keep busy I also work in an art gallery in London.
Taxi, 2010, Kodak color 35mm film, multiple exposures, 74 x 294 cm. Courtesy: The Artist.
What Is Your New Year's Resolution For 2021?
I’m not great with resolutions but I definitely want to make more mini-documentaries. I really do enjoy making them. I’m actually curious to see what might pop up considering we’ve all been pretty much stuck indoors for a year. I’d love it if I had an exhibition, so I guess that’s also my resolution for this year. I’m excited!
Flora Series; Untitled, 2017, Kodak color 35mm film, magnified effects, 13 x 20 cm (currently a continuous series). Courtesy: The Artist.
Where Can We Buy Your Work?
You can contact me via my website or Instagram
Fiji, 2012, Fuji color 35mm film, 40 x 60 cm. Courtesy: The Artist.

Grace Van Holle

My father is Belgian and my mother is Portuguese, culturally they couldn’t be greater opposites— one is calm and collected, the other passionate and vivacious— a contrast that I have grown to appreciate and love. I grew up hopping from one continent to the other, so cultural diversity and constant travel is something I’m very familiar with. As a child, I wasn’t too fond of the constant change, but now I look forward to the next get away, the next adventure, the next shock to the system.

Becoming a photographer has given me an outlet to express the contrasts I witness in my surroundings, and a way to better understand the people that are at home within them. I hope to continue travelling, creating both conceptual and tangible memories through the lens of my camera, and learning always more about the beauty of contrasts.

Instagram: @gracevanhollephotography