Home from Holmes

In the suburbs of Nottingham, an artist turns her shed into a gallery

Wall to Wall, Nottingham

‘My name is Kelly and I’m a hoarder. My neighbours were on the brink of getting Channel 5 to make a fly on the wall documentary about me. So it was time to act. After a bit of drain digging, a spot of the woodwork, and a lick of paint, the room of doom has been transformed into a quirky little gallery in the suburbs of Nottingham.’ That’s Nottingham-based artist of nine years and second-year fine art student at Nottingham Trent University, Kelly Ann Holmes, in an Instagram post. The post shows ‘before and after’ snaps of her ‘shed’ (the extension to her house), formerly her studio-turned-hoarding space, and now Wall to Wall, a gallery opened by Holmes in May.

Holmes’s little gallery is located on a quiet street in the hilly suburb of Carlton in Nottingham. Carlton, as one Reddit user puts it, is ‘not the most exciting place in the world, but it’s close to town, pretty quiet and one of the best places to look if you want a decent house at a sensible price’. Carlton is three miles from the city’s cluster of commercial galleries, artist-led spaces and big institutions. With rising rents for commercial spaces in the more established art districts like Lace Market and Hockley, it made sense for Holmes to set up space in Carlton, in her own home. There’s something special about Wall to Wall, in serving a community that doesn’t care for visiting better known art spaces in town. Holmes tells me about her friend, a market trader, who doesn’t go to galleries, but who was excited about his visit to the gallery, just before I turned up.

Before entering the gallery, visitors are met by an unmissable mural of a cartoon-like canine character against a bold blue ‘ombre’ backdrop, spray-painted onto the gallery’s outside wall, by Nottingham-based graffiti and street artist Kid30. “I’ve had loads of people stop by to see this, from children of school age to old age pensioners and I have had nothing but positive feedback”, Holmes says. Holme plans on having a rotation of artists working in different styles to create work on the exterior wall, as an extension of the work being shown in the gallery space. Inside the space, the set-up is that of a commercial gallery, with a large front desk housing prints for sale by current exhibiting artists, and where, on the gallery’s opening day, Holmes is sitting at her laptop, busy working on the gallery website. Holmes has a ‘something for everyone’ approach to the gallery and for her, there are no specific shows or scheduled exhibition programme. “I’m not calling it a show, it’s just a gallery and it’s going to be really fluid”, she tells me. The dark grey painted walls house works by British artists (mostly Nottingham-based), some of whom Holmes has exhibited with previously.

The work on offer is indeed diverse, from paintings of floral landscapes to reimagined cartoon characters, a witty critique on capitalism, and the highlighting of femicide. Artists presented in the show range from the self-taught to the formally educated. Holmes’s own work is on display Pop art-inspired portraits made from recycled cans alongside newer abstract works. Miniature textile sculptures in glass cases are by Brimsley-based artist Treehuggery, who Holmes met at a recycling centre while sourcing materials some years back. The gallery is a testament to Holmes’s commitment to supporting fellow artists. Holmes doesn’t just know the artists; she knows their work well and speaks with eloquence and enthusiasm about it as she guides visitors around the gallery.

Holmes is taking each day as it comes, first focusing on the gallery’s physical and online presentation, with plans to introduce a programme of events and social engagement in the future. While there’s no particular curator’s approach to the works presented for now, Wall to Wall presents a curation of a different kind: “I want to curate my own life”, states Holmes, referring to her vision of being able to live, work, study and create, and practice her passion for supporting fellow artists – all in one place.

Wall to Wall gallery is at 308 Greenwood Road, Carton, Nottingham. Open 11am–3pm weekends, and by appointment. www.walltowallarts.co.uk

18 June 2021