Madeline Holt, Ontogeny
Written by Seamus Platt
Photograph by Jack Mckenzie
Artwork by Madeline Holt



Of all the mediums available to visual artists, what was/ continues to be so attractive about illustration?

I think it’s the physical restrictions of pen and paper I’m drawn to. It’s a form that is essentially so simple, which challenges me to push the medium in way that expands my mind. It’s also an incredibly meditative process. Because there’s no “undo” button , the potential for a so called “mistake” means I’m put into a trance like state that focuses on the fluidity of my movements. It’s largely why my artwork looks the way it does.

Being a more traditional form of art, what’s your opinion on the current state of illustration and where do you think it’s heading as a medium?

The potential within digital drawing is somewhat endless, which excites me. I think there will always be purists out there within any medium, but for me it open doors for collaboration which otherwise might not have been achievable. That’s something that helps me evolve and grow as an artist.


There seems to be this reference to life or ‘the living’ within your work. You’ve stated that your illustrations are “…based off what you see looking through a microscope or telescope.”  I look at the works and I see this undulating line work that makes me think of the body or of something cosmic, although, you also refer to your work as being abstract (and it definitely does have this surreal/abstract quality). Could you explain this interplay?

I’m inspired by the abstract thought of seeing sound through a microscopic or telescopic lens. By the things we can’t see with the naked eye. The idea of consciousness in a tangible form.

You’ve worked with Pink Matter, Twin Haus and local label, Pocketmoth. You’re also just about to collaborate with Quincy Raw and Black Mannequin in the first edition of ‘Ontogeny’ held at the Spring Hill Reservoirs. You’re obviously an artist that’s interested in music. How do you relate to it and how do you think visual art and music relate to each other?

Music is a huge driving force behind my creativity. It heightens my senses and creates an entire world of imagery for me to bask in. I am always pursuing the translation of that within my illustrations - The way that I see sound.

I think music and visual art forms are so closely related because of the pursuit of self expression an artist usually has. Both mediums tell a story and invite an audience to become apart of the narrative.

There seems to be a movement of visual artists who are deviating from the traditional exhibition format in order to create a more accessible, experiential show. You seem to be taking this route with ‘Ontogeny’, why is this?

Ontogeny is something we created to hold space for an audience to experience more. To open their senses in an inclusive environment.

Any event that invites an audience to have an emotional connection with themselves and what’s physically around them, is going to create a shift in energy. That ripple effect is what inspires people, it opens their mind.

That’s what we aim to achieve with our event. We want to expand the collective consciousness. Showing an audience that they are all simultaneously experiencing the same thing is a powerful thread of connection that needs to be discussed openly. It’s a part of our evolution as humans living on this tiny blue spec.

On that note what’s your stance on exhibiting in an online context, in particular, on Instagram?

I think Instagram opens doors, it makes art more accessible. But for me, it will never compare to seeing art in person. There’s things that don’t translate digitally, like the tiny idiosyncrasies of a pen stroke. As a viewer, that’s what connects me to an artist.

Can you tell me the most or one of the most rewarding things about your art practice? Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Art is release for me. It helps me understand more about myself. It allows me to see the perspective of my experiences from an objective viewpoint.


To view more of Madeline's artwork, visit her instagram. She will be exhibiting her work in collaboration with Pocketmoth at the Spring Hill Reservois on the 30th of June.