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Interview with Holly White

The Wired Women* programme at this year’s NEoN festival is working to examine both the digital gender divide as well as the contributions of female and non binary artists in shaping digital spaces and online experiences. As a part of that programme, Holly White, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Glasgow, will be exhibiting a computer game that she has created. NEoN has interviewed Holly to get an insight into her work and how it feeds into this year’s programme.

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself; who are you, and what do you do?

Hello, my name is Holly and I am an artist and I also work with children and young people in Glasgow. I like to make publications, videos and sculptures, and recently I have been making computer games and table top role play games. As well as making art, I love growing plants on my allotment, science fiction and animals.

What are you most excited about with NEoN’s festival this year?

It has been great to have the opportunity to not only create a digital commission for the festival this year, but also to work with the outreach team, and Padmini Ray Murray, to create some games with local groups in order to explore building a community intranet. There will be a tabletop role play game run during the festival, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that has grown.

What will you be exhibiting and why is it important to you?

I am creating a text based computer game based around an internet cafe in the middle of a forest. I have devoted a lot of time this year to learning how to make better and larger games, particularly browser based games, and it's really cool for me get this chance to produce and share one. This is my first time trying to make a game that is based primarily on text. I have spent a lot of time in tents in Scottish forests this summer and that has also been a big influence on this work.

What key messages do you want to convey with your work and how do they feed into this year’s NEoN theme of Wired Women*?

I don't usually set out with a specific message I want to convey with my work, what I love about games, role play, world building and storytelling is how expansive and generative they can be. Saying that, and particularly with NEoN coinciding with COP26 this year, I really aspire to create stories that can begin to explore what community beyond capitalism could look like, and specifically here, share my love of trees :)

Your work is so varied from small ceramics to cookery books, animations to large scale installations and then also video games. What inspires from one piece to the next? What drives your choice of medium?

I love learning new skills and making things in lots of different ways, and I also love collaborating with different practitioners, so that is reflected in the different types of work I make. In the end, I usually try and decide what medium best suits a particular project, or in turn, combine many varied smaller pieces to create one larger project, like an installation that includes a film and a dance, or a publication, or in this case, a computer game that includes watercolour images as well as writing.

You have exhibited in several different cities and countries around the world, how does Scotland compare? Are you excited to be exhibiting in Dundee?

I'm really excited to be exhibiting in Scotland because it's where I have lived for the last few years and created a home for myself, and I haven't had many opportunities to show work here yet. I think the art and projects happening in Scotland are really exciting, and I'm really pleased to be part of that community. I love Dundee, I have spent quite a bit of time there while staying nearby at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath, where I did a residency and later worked on the children's procession. I'm particularly happy to be showing a computer game in Dundee because I have been hearing great things about the digital work coming out of the city.

Interview conducted by Cracking Social Media

Image Credit: Screen shot of The Talking Tree, By Holly White