#SpotlightOn Artist Andy Holden’s Laws of Motion at The Cinema Museum, Kennington, London

That’s not all folks! Artist Andy Holden invites you to re-live your childhood love of cartoons and walks us through the ten rules of motion in an animated landscape. We dropped in to see Andy at The Cinema Museum, a unique, historic space devoted to keeping alive the spirit of cinema.  Rosanna Head

Andy Holden: Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape

Tell us about your work

I make large installations often with a combination of film and sculpture.

Tell us about Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape and what you wanted to achieve?

For my exhibition at the Cinema Museum, I am presenting a film about cartoons, specifically the golden age of animation, such as Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, and how they have shaped the world we live in.  The Cinema Museum is a wonderful grotto to the Golden Age of Hollywood and cartoons were a big part of that, being shown before the main feature.  My hour-long animated film ‘Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape’ looks at how physics and logic work in cartoons and use it as a way to try and understand the politics of the current moment.

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How did you get into this work?

It started as a lecture I began back in 2011 and developed whilst on a residency at Stanley Picker Gallery at Kingston University.  It came through a combination of research into cartoons and animation, but also looking at ideas from contemporary physics and thinking how these two things could be linked.  From there it kept on growing, developing through public lectures until finally, I decided that to complete it, it should be narrated by a cartoon version of myself – and from there the project took off, and has since been shown in Glasgow, Venice, Kiev, Toronto,  Dubai, New York, Cleveland Ohio, and Denmark. This is the first time showing it in London.

What is your most memorable piece of work?

It was probably an encounter with a Philip Guston painting in a museum in Europe when I was about nineteen. This painting was cartoon-like but also heavy and serious and deeply moving.  I think that really confirmed for me that I wanted to be an artist and Guston’s paintings have remained a source of inspiration.

What or who inspires you?

Cartoons do, the best cartoons by Chuck Jones, such as Duck Amuck are perfect pieces of art.  I recently went to see some paintings by El Greco that I will always love, I like paintings of saints I’ve noticed.  I also like Italian Neo-realist cinema, Rossellini and Fellini.  And also, in no particular order: other peoples collections, random jpgs, sentimental films, bowerbirds, recent Zero books, Ed Atkins, outsider paintings, coffee, vapourwave, Virginia Wolf, Roger from my band the Grubby Mitts, natural history books, Rick and Morty, Monteverde, ASMR, know-your-meme.com, Tex Avery, rock formations, and the current climate of uncertainty.
Upstairs Cinema and bar, The Cinema Museum

Can you recall a seminal life moment that has impacted your work?

Most of them I think have been, up until recently, tiny, almost imperceptible, arbitrary moments.  Many of these I have used in previous artworks.  There was the moment I stole a tiny piece of Pyramid from the Great Pyramid of Giza.  Fifteen years later, I felt guilty and travelled back to Cairo to return it.  This became the bases of my exhibition at Tate Britain in 2010, where I made a giant knitted replica of this tiny fragment, a monument to a piece of a monument that had shaped my understanding of ethics.  Recently my grandma passed away and left me her collection of 300 Ceramic cats, which became the basis of a one-man-play in which I unbox these cats and talk about them.  I also made a very large installation in which I recreated a manifesto I had written with friends as a teenager; it would be fair to say using those moments that come to shape who you are, that are often only visible in hindsight, is a fundamental ingredient in many of the works I have made.

Do you play a part in your local community?

Last year I had an exhibition at the former Newington Library, the first in the space since the fire.  I made a work in collaboration with my father, Peter Holden, called Natural Selection, which turned the site of the former library and Cuming Museum into a sort of natural history museum again.  My dad is an ornithologist and we collaborated on to films and a number of sculptures which explored how birds make birds nests and also the darker phenomenon of oology – or egg collecting.  This free exhibition, supported by Artangel, had 6,000 visitors, and many people locally came to visit it several times.

What are your plans for the future?

My exhibition made for the Newington Library is now on tour in Scotland.  After going to the Royal Botanics in Edinburgh it is currently on show on the island of Shetland. After this is will come to Bristol Museum, so the piece I made in Elephant and Castle just keeps going and going and is keeping me occupied as every time it travels to a new museum I have to go with it to weave the giant willow bower sculpture that sits at the centre.

Where is your favourite south east London spot?

I was at art school at Goldsmith College in the early 2000s and Deptford Market played a pivotal part in my development as an artist – I used to go every weekend to rummage the house-clearance sales and general bric-a-brack and many of the things I found there entered into my artwork in one way or another.  I had better also say the Cinema Museum, hence deciding to do the exhibition here, as a way to get new people to experience this very special venue, the workhouse that once gave refuge to Charlie Chaplain, and is now a grotto to Cinema, as it was.

And just for fun, who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guests?

Slavo Zizek, Virginia Wolf, Max Fleischer, Alice Coltrane, Alan Watts, Kurt Vonnegut, Caroline Lucas, Kanye, Immanuel Kant, Buster Keaton, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Bob Ross, Guston, Sapho, Daffy Duck, Jean-Luc Godard, Mark E Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Ingrid Bergman. And maybe some real friends. That would be fun doing the place-names. I would ideally not be catering.

I forgot to invite Andy Kaufman and St Francis and a girl called Claire who’s attention I couldn’t get when we were in the same art class at school.  I think this is now the most thorough answer I’ve given to any question ever.

That’s a big table Andy!

Click here to see the trailer for Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape. The exhibition continues until 10 March 2019 with a live green screen showing this Thursday 7th March 7pm.

I cannot finish this article without encouraging you all to take a visit to the Cinema Museum, Kennington (also a short walk from Elephant & Castle) and to highlight their plight to save the Cinema from an uncertain future.
This is Morris Hardcastle (with Steve), he is the Cinema Commissionaire.  He warmly greeted us yesterday and shared his knowledge of local history, cinema anecdotes and architecture, dating back years.  We enjoyed every minute of it, we only wish we had longer.


IMG_1321The Cinema has been in residence at the former Lambeth Workhouse for over 20 years.  Following the recent sale of the building and the surrounding site, they are on good terms with the new landlords but the long-term future of the Cinema Museum is still not confirmed. The latest details and their plans are all in the “Our Future” brochure which you can read and download HERE.

The Cinema Museum’s unique collection is the result of a lifelong fascination with cinema-going. Co-founder Ronald Grant began collecting cinema memorabilia as a child, and at the age of 15 he began work as an apprentice projectionist with Aberdeen Picture Palaces Ltd, an associated company of James F. Donald (Aberdeen Cinemas) Ltd. Grant moved to London in the 1960s, and worked at the British Film Institute and the Brixton Ritzy cinema, but a trip back to Aberdeen led to him saving from destruction a significant quantity of artefacts from the James F. Donald cinemas.

These memorabilia remain at the heart of the collection, which today has grown far beyond its origins to become an extensive archive of historical and social importance. In 1986, Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries founded The Cinema Museum to safeguard the collection’s future, establishing it in a former Victorian work- house where Charlie Chaplin once lived as a child. www.cinemamuseum.org.uk.

You can support the cinema by signing the online petition HERE. Of course, you can also support them by going to an event!

If you want to make an online donation, their Just Giving page is HERE.

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