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These kinetic artworks are in a 3 person exhibition, based on the art of assemblage, at Stella Downer, Fine Art, Sydney until 4 November, 2017. The other artists in the exhibition are Liz Shreeve and Annabel Butler.

The Wager

Mother and Child

The Devil’s in the Detail

Holdsworth inserts light into her works, creating a sense of film noir in the dark nooks and crannies of her interiors. Working with found and made objects she creates intimate narratives that move from the nostalgic to the dark and subversive. In this series of works, Holdsworth engages with the Kewpie Doll, refashioning it into grander imaginary narratives – from dancing with the devil to Madonna and Child and an interior of a radio that recalls the glory of Pharlap and the races. 
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Lucy Stranger

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The assemblages in this exhibition are kinetic. On winding the work, shadows of figures move past the window blinds. The work was made for the Suburban Noir exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, curated by author and historian Peter Doyle, in response to a series of police forensic photographs of Greater Sydney from the 50′s and 60′s. Also participating in the exhibition were Vanessa Berry, Dallas Bray, Rhett Brewer, Charles Cooper, Theresa Darmody, Bruce Latimer, Michael Lewy, Frank Littler, Reg Mombassa, Peter O’Doherty, Ken Searle, Susannah Thorne and Anne Wallace.

This exhibition breaks with the tradition of presenting Sydney as a visual splendour, finding instead a more reserved city. The police photographs capture the spaces left behind: a moody catalogue of vacant lots, empty roads, desolate interiors and everyday fragments of life in these hard-bitten slices of Sydney. Look at these images long enough and everything starts to look like a crime scene. Guest curator Peter Doyle invited a group of visual artists to loan existing works or create new works in response to the forensic photographs. They have responded with diverse visual sensitivities and understanding, finding drama and tragedy but also surprising stateliness and dramatic beauty.  Suburban Noir, Museum of Sydney

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This exhibition was curated by Rilka Oakley and plays with the parallels found between the artist collecting for creative inspiration and the tourist collecting souvenirs as a reminder of place. Just as artists (and tourists) travel to the Blue Mountains to capture the stunning views and magnificent landscape, travel to other places is key to the creative process of many of the artists who live and work there. Other artists in the exhibition include David Brazil, Elaine Campaner, Ona Janzen, Mathew Lynn, Judith Martinez, Brad Moore, Janelle Randall-Court, Wendy Tsai and Kayo Yokoyama.

The keepsake plays an important role in my own art practice. I search for objects that I feel are imbued with a certain meaning – especially old toys, dolls and marionettes – and use them to create a narrative. The  narrative is often based on fairytales, myths or popular culture – the toys become the characters and the old tins, boxes and containers become the stage. This new context alters the toys meaning and allows me to juxtapose notions of childhood, innocence and wonder against adult themes of desire, fear and death. I often cut up the toys and reconstruct them with handmade mechanisms and create motion and sound by using music-box movements. Wind a key and a ventriloquist dummy’s head will rotate like a fairground clown from Luna Park – or the maiden, Europa, might ride a bucking bull whilst her handmaiden twirls with surprise.

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Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney
Tue 2 to Sat 20 October 2012

Di Holdsworth’s new assemblages explore themes of the circus. With music-boxes and hand-made mechanisms she has automated vintage toys and marionettes. The works are constructed in old boxes and tins and are reminiscent of carnival automata and arcade games from the past.

Combining circus characters with those from myths, fairytales and popular culture, the cast in Holdsworth’s assemblages includes clowns, aerialists, circus animals, mermaids, Icarus, Little Red Riding Hood, a princess, Superman and the Devil.

Holdsworth juxtaposes notions of fear, danger, desire and sexuality, against innocence, whimsy and wonder. Wind up one of her works and a clown might embrace Little Red Riding Hood or a trapeze artist might spin, dangling by one leg, from a rope above the body of Superman.


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Damien Minton Gallery
Wednesday 17 March to Saturday 3 April 2010

As a child my introduction to myths and fairytales was essentially through television. My gods and goddesses, heroes and villains came from old Hollywood movies and American television shows. There were heroes and villains in TV shows such as The Persuaders, The Man from Uncle, The Untouchables and Superman. There were also actors such as Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart who were continually cast by Hollywood as archetypal figures: the love goddess and the cynical but noble hero. Heroes were also to be found in American/Japanese animations such as Gigantor and Astro-Boy. I loved Astro-Boy but thought it extremely unfair that Astro-Girl could not fly and did not seem to do anything ‘brave’.

Television also brought factual narratives into my childhood. I have early memories of my mother jumping in front of the television during a News Broadcast. I did not understand what the Vietnam War was, but as I watched the look on my mother’s face and the flickering light of the television through her skirt, I knew that it was something horrific. I also watched the Moon Landing and held my breath as Neil Armstrong took his ‘giant step for mankind’ apprehensive about what might happen as he stepped onto the moon surface.

While preparing for this show I acquired many toys that were made during the 60’s based on popular culture and historical events. I have used the toys in this exhibition to create characters and new versions of classic myths and fairytales. These works often have a dark and ironic edge to them but I hope that they also convey a sense of wonder. The works are operated by hand-made mechanics and music-box movements. Turn a handle, wind the music-box, and watch a femme fatale dance or an astronaut spin into eternity….

Di Holdsworth

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Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney
8-25 October 2008

I have vivid memories of long hot summer days when I ran wild with my brother shooting at him with a shiny silver gun that I could pull deftly from my cowgirl holster. Together he and I invented the rules of murder and death. We also spent hours under the dining table where a menagerie of plastic animals roamed and a locomotive raced murderously around its track causing certain death to any hapless animal that wondered into its path.

In this series of assemblages I have tried to evoke that time in childhood when one is able to fuse the edges of reality and play: to draw from a time when everything is possible and the discoveries of fear and death are tempered by joy and innocence. This series was created with affection and irony, often having a slightly malevolent edge. The works are constructed from vintage boxes, tins, toys, bric-a-brac, and collage. Concealed inside are music boxes and mechanical movements. Wind one of the works and listen to the music resonate as an emu dances or a ship rides a wave.