Holly Hennessy

University: Arts University Bournemouth

Graduation: 2015

Genre: Film


Artist Statement: Uncle Ryan is a documentary about Ryan Hennessy who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1991. Schizophrenic as a consequence of long-term drug abuse, Ryan recounts through storytelling, his experiences and premonitions. Recorded in his home, the work provides a frank insight into his life and his perception of reality.

What are some standout moments from your time at university? Attending an arts specialist university it was amazing to be working amongst other art students. Working collaboratively with other students was always great and there was always opportunity for it. Having so much time spent with my tutors also massively impacted my work and how it developed. 

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? My work is always time based and so I would consider my work to be film. As a filmmaker I work within my own practice. My work always develops from observing people. 

What inspired you to carry on studying and complete an MA course? I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship. I loved my time at AUB on my BA and so being at the same university is great. I wanted to continue my studies and develop my work further and so am fortunate enough to be on my MA in the same place. 

Who or what visually and theoretically inspires your work? I get much of my inspiration from films. I admire the work of Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor-Johnson. I admire their journey from artists to film directors as it isn't always a successful transition. I love the films of Ben Rivers, particularly the materiality of the film he uses. He utilises silence so beautifully within his films. 

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2016? As happy as I am to be on my MA, I have placed a lot of pressure on myself to make work I am proud of this year. I was proud of Uncle Ryan and always worry I'm not going to follow it up successfully. I want to make a film I am proud of this year. 

Do you have a favourite project of yours that you'd like to tell us about? Uncle Ryan has been by my favourite by far. Making a film with my Uncle was always something I had wanted to do. Growing up with him he absolutely fascinated me. I always had a close bond with him, more so than my other family members. Working so closely with him for such a long period of time brought us closer together. Making the film on my own was daunting although it taught me a lot. I learned a lot technically. 

You have a BA degree in Photography but the work on your website is heavily film based, can you talk us through some of the work you made at university and why you were inspired to creates videos rather than still images? Cinema has always been one of my interests and I always wanted to be a cinematographer. People always ask why I didn't choose to study film instead but I wanted to experiment and make films on my own. One of the units in my first year of my BA was 'The Still & Moving Image' and it challenged us to work amongst moving image. From then on I only ever worked within moving image. I loved it and there was so much more within moving image that I wanted to experiment with.