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A Love Letter to Earth

"In the oldest desert in the world, the tallest sand dunes tower hundreds of meters into the sky. From dawn until dusk the colors of the dunes shift with the sun in stunning gradients of burnt reds and dusty pinks. From this perspective, the dunes bear a resemblance to the human form, an array of flesh tones blending and cascading in symphony, bringing to mind our complicated relationship with Nature and its magnetic pull on the human subconscious." -Brooke Holm

 

From the oldest desert in the world, to the furthest depths of the Arctic, read more about Skyframe's August 2020 Artist of the Month, Brooke Holm's adventures in documenting the fine line between earth, architecture, and anatomy. Click through any image to be taken directly to the series.

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"At one point, while I was standing on the bow of the ship, I was the furthest person North in the world."

When I was a young girl, I read this book called ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman. It was a fantasy of polar expeditions, science and talking polar bears. The book kept mentioning this place called Svalbard which I didn’t realize was a real place until later in life. When I found out it was indeed real, I made it my mission to go there. The expedition was such an incredible experience for me. Breaking through icebergs, hiking through the tundra, seeing a polar bear and other wildlife mere feet away and smelling the fresh crisp air of the Arctic. The smell is something I can’t forget. It was cold, clear and had a slight saltiness to it, where the wind had whipped up the scent of the sea. Everything was shades of blue and white and the textures of the ice and mountains were intense and varied. At one point, while I was standing on the bow of the ship, one of my guides told me that I was currently the furthest person North in the world.

"What at first might appear to be a close-up of the human body is actually miles of cascading sand dunes that ebb and flow, each grain of sand playing its part in the bigger picture."

My photographs are often exhibited in large-scale prints, highly detailed and influenced in part by architectural sensibilities and an appreciation for how spaces can impact us in emotional and physical ways. My vision is constantly being defined and redefined, and is often based on instinct and a certain feeling about things and their impact on me. The large scale of the works invites the viewer to almost step inside the frame. What at first might appear to be a close-up of the human body is actually miles of cascading sand dunes that ebb and flow, each grain of sand playing its part in the bigger picture.

"We are not separate from nature, as much as we try to make ourselves believe this. We are connected, nature is within us, nature is us."

My happiest and most vivid memories often involve being immersed in the natural environment. Something as subtle as the smell of pine trees or the feel of grass underfoot, or the sound of a trickling creek can trigger a deep emotional response for me. When I am working, a place will engage all of my senses. I am a very kinesthetic, emotional person - sensitive to touch, sounds, smells, sight. Even though the work ends up purely visual in its final presentation, for me it invokes the sensory experience of a place in its entirety. The power of that is inspiring. I have a deep respect for the force of nature. We are not separate from nature, as much as we try to make ourselves believe this. We are connected, nature is within us, nature is us.

What does your process look like before, during, and after photo?

I start with a lot of research. Research on places, histories, accessibility, significance to my practice etc. I scour a lot of satellite imagery and NASA’s archives. Once I know my place and my goal, I start planning logistics. For the actual shoot, I often need to charter a plane or helicopter and pilot to take me where I need to go. After the shoot it can take up to a year to edit, work through and finalize the final series.

 

Who or what inspires you lately?

Being in lockdown means I have had a lot of time for reading books I had started but never finished. Some recent gems that have inspired me are Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, Between the World and Me by Te-Nahisi Coates, Contact by Carl Sagan, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brow and The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli.

How has COVID affected the way you work?

I have been working on personal art projects, exhibitions, writing and creating music during this time, but also have given myself time to just exist - I have tried not to put additional pressure on myself to do something other than to just ride out the pandemic. It’s an unprecedented time that comes with a lot of physical and mental health issues, so we all need to take care of ourselves in whatever way we are able to.

*This interview has been condensed.

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