Photograd Experience: Holly Hennessy - MA Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth

We recently caught up with launch Photograd Holly Hennessy who went on to complete an MA in Fine Art after her degree in Photography. We really wanted to find out more and share her thoughts and final work with you!

Introduction: I’m Holly Hennessy and I recently completed my MA in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth. My work is predominantly moving image and often arises from visual observations. My films interweave documentary and fictional elements and often show the relationships developed between the subjects and myself. My work can often be uncomfortable to watch. It can sometimes force the audience to stare directly at people who are seemingly staring right back at them, which is something that we as people often don’t do.

From the series Face Off

From the series Face Off

Experience: I continued my studies immediately after I had completed my BA. I studied my BA in Photography at Arts University Bournemouth and felt as though my work wasn’t resolved. I wanted to continue studying and carry on making work. I chose to study Fine Art as I always considered my work closer to art than to photography; this also allowed me to be less limited when making work.

My MA was much more self motivated than my BA, which I massively struggled with at first. It was such a different style of studying, as I had to get on with it myself and motivate myself at every stage. In the end I loved it. The 3 modules were each 15 weeks long meaning I had such a long time to work on each project. The work never needed to be resolved which was an element I enjoyed as the work could always continue. I was encouraged from the start to constantly ask myself questions about the work being made. Why am I doing it? What is the intention of the work? What is the reason for a particular edit?

From the series Face Off

From the series Face Off

Work and Outcome: My MA final piece, Face Off, was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I read a quote years ago about how police helmets were psychologically designed to cover the eyebrows, as the eyebrows are the most expressive part of the face.  They indicate a lot of emotion and they have to be covered in order for the police to appear more authoritative. I wanted to make a moving image piece though didn’t know how to approach the police to get them involved. Luckily throughout my MA I worked at a police social club and approached some officers and they were so willing to help me. The audience are encouraged to stare at police officers, something that we never normally do. Gillian Wearing’s 60 Minute Silence influenced this piece as well as a lot of scientific research about facial expressions. I want to continue working with this project, as I think there is lots more to explore. 

From the series Face Off

From the series Face Off

Artist Statement:

Face Off is a video installation representing the iconic and symbolic nature of the Police uniform. Designed specifically to evoke power and authority, the uniform is psychologically intended to appear authoritative and to have a profound psychological impact on those who view it.

The male Police officers were each recorded in their uniform for one minute in a private social environment. As the camera lens interrogates them, their power and authority increasingly becomes ruptured creating unease and vulnerability. The work evokes historic references from the mug shot to Warhol's Screen Tests. The subjects wear different uniforms, one formal and one casual. The work is not intended as a critique or deconstruction of the Police but represents the veneer of authority the uniform shows and how the lens is able to penetrate it. 

From the series Face Off

From the series Face Off

Future: At the moment I am currently looking for jobs in London. I am also in the very early stages of a new project, which I am really excited to begin. Lecturing is definitely something that I would like to pursue in the future. Over the year there were so many occasions where I was close to leaving my MA, as I didn’t think that I was ready and I was completing it too soon. I am so glad that I did it and I was really pleased with the final work.

Find out more about Holly's work via her website and Vimeo channel.