Scarves, Snakes, Alexander McQueen, Holly-Anne and Collagism

Written by Natasha Zahodnik

“Putting a shout out on social media for collage materials, I get some pretty eclectic things. People will say, ‘Oh do you want my collection of Gardening or Parisian Vogue magazines,’ and I’m like, Yes please, Perfect!” Holly-Anne joyfully exclaims as she tells me where and how she sources some of her collage material. From our video call, it is evident Holly Anne’s resources are not only interesting but vast. Her well lit London studio displays endless, well-organized books and magazines stacked high on her desk and even more on the mid-level bookshelf against the wall behind her.

“My subject matter is portraiture,” she smiles “but the materials will dictate it quite randomly and I love that!

Obviously I’m going to be attracted to Hunger and Numéro," music, fashion, and art magazines, “I will go and seek out certain content and then that will make the start, but I also love putting it out there and collecting materials.”

Similar to the art form - collage, Holly-Anne’s work, which she has dubbed and trademarked Collagism, is layered, collaborative and seemingly random, yet is orchestrated in a way that has become intricately rendered. 

This skilful talent has been evolving since her childhood. At eight-years-old, Holly-Anne can remember being attracted to all types and forms of paper, organizing it in many different ways of collecting information. She would spend hours filing her cutout pieces and even used the phonebook to alphabetize what she had collected. 

”I would snip out headlines, pictures and cartoons from the newspaper and I would take the phonebook, go into the alphabet and then I’d file these things through the pages, of this big, thick, book, with this sort of, bible like paper,” she laughs, thinking back to her younger determined self. 

Although she would continue to snip out, file, and sort paper clippings for many more years it wasn’t until she was a teenager that the direction of her art began to solidify and she became inspired exclusively by fashion and music magazines, especially The Face, which she remembers using to create her first real collage. As we continue to talk about her inspiration, and how that evolved towards fashion, it becomes clear that her mother played a vital role in captivating this interest and who also helped shape her ideology around feminism and female empowerment, elements that are featured strongly in Holly-Anne’s work.

“I have a very stylish mother who worked in the corporate world and I remember in the 80’s her wearing a leather dress to work,” she muses, “my sense of style and interest in fashion came from her and she’s been a wonderful role model for me also with feminism and being an empowered woman.”

The embodiment of these qualities motivated her to create her first street art activist campaign for the release of the imprisoned Russian feminist punk rock and performance art group  Pussy Riot. Through the art of collage, she created Vogue like cover’s which were plastered across the streets of London in support of their release. Ironically, it also led to the creation of her identity as a street art collagist and her artist name Collagism. “I was doing street art and needed something, to call myself and go on the walls, so I created Collagism because it describes exactly what I do.”

As Collagism’s manifesto states, her collages comes from the “desire to rearrange/reinvent anything and everything.” In working with 2D, 3D, and multimedia, Collagism uses much more than just one-dimensional paper cut-outs. Her work is multi-layered and has a modern approach. She draws from many creative industries from film, art, fashion, music, in all its forms which she then re-cycles, re-mixes to re-make something new entirely. It is, she explains ‘in essence, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.”

Like many artists, Collagism reflects the surreal line and interaction between herself and society through a well humoured, brightly coloured tapestry. Her style reflects her work - fair skin, black tortoise glasses, red lipstick, pink dress, bleached white bob and a big chunky necklace that reads - BEYOND.

A self-proclaimed maximalist, Collagism follows the philosophical art movement known as Adornism, which refers to her art, persona and clothing as omnipresent extensions of the same thing. Having no dividing line between what she does and who she is, the line has merged between fashion and creativity. For Collagism, “there’s no spot where one ends and the other begins, it all blends together.”

When asked about her personal and eclectic sense of fashion and style, she laughs, pauses and then calmly declares, “well, it’s large.” As the camera pans over to her wardrobe, my eyes catch sight of the huge assortment of colourful clothes - various shades of pink, a riot of different patterns, solid black and a lonely garment in bright yellow adding an extra surprise. 

Understanding her passion and influence for fashion, it comes as no surprise her scarf motif for MocoMoco was inspired by Alexander McQueen, nor the elements used to create it. 

She has been a fan of his for years and explains, “I’ve loved Alexander McQueen since I can remember.” While attending the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, for Savage Beauty in 2015, Collagism, along with 493,043 visitors during the 21-week exhibition, she witnessed the breathtaking talent of Alexander McQueen's work up close and personal. “I went to the Alexander McQueen…” she pauses mid-sentence for a moment then continues, “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it because it was one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in my life. It was so inspiring and so beautifully curated. People were walking around sobbing.”

Aroused by her own emotion, she went home and took to her art form, “I just wanted to make something and I wanted to embody the feeling I got, that dark beauty.” After going through the Savage Beauty book she bought from the show, she became drawn to the snakeskin pattern from one of McQueen’s dresses. As a result creating a series of collages entitled Lust Monsters: Cash, Eternity, Stuff and Flesh, the later which was chosen for the MocoMoco Berlin scarf motif. 



The series is a totem headset that was influenced by Andy Warhol’s idea of taking a symbol - in this case, the snake - and slightly changing each piece. As for “Flesh” other influences affected Collagism’s choices, including an “eggs, legs and silk webs” - themes she previously felt inspired by and focused on, likewise the heavy airbrushed models in fashion magazines and also the work of artist Louise Bourgeois.

Delving deeper Collagism elaborates on this work even further saying, “snakes and eggs have been used to represent sexuality and sensuality and desire. Within our bodies, we have dormant energy that lays at the base of our spine which is the kundalini energy, that people say represents a snake. I’m really into that and I guess it’s multilayered. It’s a philosophy in a way of life but also the symbology of art.” 



While Collagism was doing a residency in New York City, MOCOMOCO reached out via Instagram to see if there was shared interest in collaborating their scarfs. “All the other artists they were working with were doing amazing things. I really resonated with their style and the quality of their work” but for Collagism it was the idea of working with silk and creating a scarf that sealed the deal. “I always wanted to make a silk scarf…so of course I wanted to be involved.” As a lover of fashion and textiles, it wasn’t her first time being involved in the garment industry. Although previously she had worked with a designer in New York, creating a silk scarf had been on her list of dreams for years. “If I had a bucket list as an artist creating a silk scarf would be on it. It was a manifestation in many ways because I’d always wanted to do that.”




The future between MOCOMOCO and Collagism is bright as new collaborations for future pieces, including more scarfs and wallpaper are underway. And who knows, maybe we will be treated to inspired collages from those Gardening and Parisian Vogue magazines yet.