Full of Days is artist Andy Holden’s personal response to another artist’s life. In 2017 Holden came across a group of eclectic paintings in a charity shop in his home town of Bedford. The bold signature declared the author’s name: HERMIONE. Accompanying the artworks were framed photographs of the artist and a self-published autobiography, Hermione Burton: A Journey Through the Paintings. This thin booklet described the major events of the artist’s life, her creative evolution, and her ongoing struggles with ill health. Holden purchased the entire group of paintings.
As part of his response to this discovery, Holden has created a forty-minute film, Kingdom of the Sick, titled in reference to Susan Sontag’s 1978 essay Illness as Metaphor. The film uses digital technology to project an imagined version of Hermione as the narrator of her own history, guiding the viewer through her life and work using language excerpted from her autobiography. Hermione’s story is intercut by interviews with people who knew her, and shaped by Holden’s inquiring voiceover.
The band Saint Etienne provides a specially composed soundtrack for the film, and their lead vocalist, Sarah Cracknell, plays the role of Hermione, who is animated using motion capture technology.
Kingdom of the Sick was previously exhibited along with Hermione’s paintings at Gallery of Everything in London.
Andy Holden’s work takes a multitude of forms – large installations or sculptures, long-form videos, animation and music – that often oscillate between personal narratives and historical research. He often appears in his work, as an animated version of himself, as a teenage actor, or in the role of narrator.