Holly Davey, Scene no.7, A Script for an

A Script for an Archive

"For Holly Davey’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, the artist will create an environment out of unusable props, half-made costumes and semi-constructed sets, that will sit alongside a central script: A Script for an Archive. Together, these components will explore society’s fascination with archiving human existence and the way we perform our stories. The exhibition emerges out of Davey’s work and research during her fellowship at the British School at Rome in 2019, where, inspired by a member of Cinecitta Studio staff saying to her that ‘It all begins with a page, without the script there is nothing’, she made a series of model sets and dysfunctional props, and wrote a script. It is only when the audience inhabits the exhibition that the work becomes complete. The audience become the performers, activating the space with their presence. When the semi-constructed objects are placed together with the audience’s movement, a new narrative is formed about the way we live; the way we construct a sense of belonging and the fragmented remnants we leave behind.


A central theme throughout the exhibition is the lone female figure, the outline of an absence. This motif derives from the photographic collection of the work of Agnes and Dora Bulwer, two unmarried sisters, who lived in Rome in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Together they went on field trips, photographing ruins, the landscape and local people. In the photographic trace left, a lone woman is often pictured in the landscape; she is presumed to be one of the sisters. Agnes and Dora Bulwer’s lives are now almost invisible, yet this lone woman comes to signify their forgotten story. All that is left is an outline, a silhouette, a cut out of a life.

Inspired by and using archival photographs from the Bulwer collection at the British School at Rome, alongside research visits to the city’s Cinecitta, to explore the studio of Oscar winning set designer, Dante Ferretti, A Script for an Archive was written. It investigates the connections between the constructed reality of a film set; how we create a sense of belonging and what remains of our lives. Excavating our relationship with the world around us, Davey removes the layers of fragmented reality, investigating and exploring the dysfunctionality of these constructed viewpoints that are normally made for the camera lens. During the exhibition, the audience will be able to wander through the stage-ruins experiencing the imagined remnants of these women’s lives, our lives. On the last day of the exhibition, A Script for an Archive will be inhabited and performed by two actors."

Text from Danielle Arnaud Gallery


Artist Statement:


My current process means that I work closely with ideas surrounding memory, place and archival collections mostly online and library / museum based.  I am interested in the heritage of a location or collection especially it’s lost and largely forgotten social history. I am interested in researching and developing ideas that explore notions of fact and fiction, blurring the boundaries and making my audience question what is real? This way of working develops into site specific commissions and exhibitions exploring the relationship between photography and sculpture.