Holly Keasey


Holly’s focus on the critical and generative role of contemporary Public Art within society and her approach to practice has led her to take on a variety of roles as a method of modelling the extensive forms of contemporary public art practice. This included Director of the artist-led space Generator Projects where Holly initiated the Generator Publication series, which focuses on the role of printed matter as a critical tool for discussing, expanding and applying the context of an exhibition; the design and construction of a dedicated Members Space, which facilitates peer support and learning by providing an open space for artists to programme for themselves with access to an artist-led archive; and was commissioned to initiate a national discussion on the future role of artist-led spaces during a time of socio-economic decline and environmental crisis. Holly has also worked within education, developed pedagogical frameworks and multi-purpose tools for integrated teaching. She worked for four years with the Clyde River Foundation to develop and teach an educational curriculum focused on methods of research within science and art whilst providing a shared experience for 250 students across fifteen remote schools in the Scottish borders. Holly has recently been collaborating with artist-designer, Jessie Giovane Staniland, to produce designs for #Plot9 of the Dundee Waterfront Redevelopment and the Victoria and Albert Museum Dundee. These designs developed a method of practice where sustainable infrastructure integrates sensory learning and opportunity for educational engagement. Complex-systems thinking has become a core part to Holly’s practice, developing a theory that identifies performative research as a generative process of knowledge production. She has applied this theory to urban development, hospitality and to the role of the museum archive. She is currently working with Studio Mossutställningar to program work challenging the urban development at Norra Djurgardsstaden, Stockholm with the intention of drafting a trans-disciplinary framework as a method towards ecological sensitive modes of living. This follows on from research developed at the Santa Fe Art Institute on water rights, historic and current acts of displacement and Public Arts policy reform.


Working from a research-based approach to site-responsive practice, Holly works with a framework that makes use of water as a tool to criss-cross abstract theory and ecological concerns. This often involves mapping of historic, current and potential future ecological situations through performative research methods. These maps are then overlaid through two select emotive concepts, which allow for a thread to be formed between the micro and macro/personally and global/pasts and futures. This research is then presented within an aesthetic form often replicating a recognised trope, that draws attention to what are often considered disparate elements of society. Previous forms have included such mediums as performance, writing, sculptural installation, sound and print-making. It is also common for Holly to produce these outcomes collaboratively, often working with specialists or community groups who have a long-term connection to a given site. Her aim being to performatively investigate if and how art can assist a shift toward ecologically sensitive modes of living. A key element to this site-responsive process is an on-going interest in the understood roles of contemporary art in relation to research, pedagogy and printed matter. This is supported by an underlying ambition to assist collaborative methods of critical practice that allow contemporary art to form contradictions to accepted ‘norms’ – To be shapers of cultural change towards alternative social-political formations. It is here, Holly’s practice also drifts into curation and education. Holly is currently working on a new body of work that takes water’s anthropologically understanding as both a substance and symbol, and applies it to the planning model of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD). By considering WSUD as a theoretical modelling system for alternative forms of urban planning and where her practice, that focuses on water as a tool to criss-cross theory and ecological concerns, could be situated within such a model, Holly is creating a an example and theory for a critical and generative formation of performative public art.


My time at SFAI was spent researching water policy, property law, the history of possession mindsets and the nuclear industry. This involved visiting a range of places, conducting interviews and walking in order to understand the landscape of Santa Fe. This was mapped through weekly blog posts for ecoartscotland that covered a range of questions in regards the role of artistic practice in contemporary displacement and how this historically links to acts of possession. During my time, I also conducted a collaborative co-design workshop with Anna Macleod, Courtney Leonard and the Red Water Pond Road Community Association. This banner will then be hand-sewn and gifted back to community by Anna Macleod. It is intended that this research will be continued with and manifest in a print that plays with tropes recognisable to a Public Arts policy for a fictional notion of a water sensitive urban design city.

Additional Work

Holly Keasey and Fiona P McDonald: “Ambulatory Knowing”: Architecture, Access, and the Anthropocene | ecoartscotland

Holly Keasey and Fiona P McDonald: “Ambulatory Knowing”: Architecture, Access, and the Anthropocene | ecoartscotlandhttps://ecoartscotland.net/2017/02/25/holly-keasey-ambulatory-knowing-architecture-access-and-the-anthropocene/This post is jointly authored by Holly Keasey and Fiona P McDonald (Bio below), another resident on the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Water Rights Programme. By ‘becoming knowledgeable’ I mean tha…

Holly Keasey and Anna Macleod: An Atomic Journey – The CSPA

Holly Keasey and Anna Macleod: An Atomic Journey – The CSPAhttp://www.sustainablepractice.org/2017/03/29/holly-keasey-and-anna-macleod-an-atomic-journey/This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland “We tour the disparate surfaces of everyday life as a way of involving ourselves in them, as a way of reintegrating a fragmented world” – Alexander Wilson…

Holly Keasey: Is a river without water, still a river? | ecoartscotland

Holly Keasey: Is a river without water, still a river? | ecoartscotlandhttps://ecoartscotland.net/2017/03/07/holly-keasey-is-a-river-without-water-still-a-river/Holly Keasey’s fourth post to ecoartscotland, as part of her participation in the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Water Rights residency, focuses on different ways of experiencing and thinking…

Holly Keasey: gravel pits, acequias and shared interests – The CSPA

Holly Keasey: gravel pits, acequias and shared interests – The CSPAhttp://www.sustainablepractice.org/2017/02/21/holly-keasey-gravel-pits-acequias-and-shared-interests/This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland “Gravel pits offer a casual archaeology of the meeting places of nature and culture, past and present, construction and destruction, indigenous peop…

Holly Keasey: Santa Fe Art Instutite Water Rights Residency – Introduction | ecoartscotland

Holly Keasey: Santa Fe Art Instutite Water Rights Residency – Introduction | ecoartscotlandhttps://ecoartscotland.net/2017/02/11/holly-keasey/Holly Keasey is currently undertaking a residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute as part of the Water Rights programme. During the next 8 weeks Holly will be sending regular updates. “156. Why is th…
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