Holland Van Gores is quite the adventurous spirit, having sailed around the Caribbean, created a home on the side of a mountain in a jungle, and eventually relocating himself and his family to the Appalachian Mountains. Stories are not the only thing Holland is full of...his creativity and passion are unbounded and his work is a beautiful inception of these traits.
Read on to get to know Holland and his work!
Tell us about your most recent work in the September/October exhibit. What was the inspiration behind it?
Most of my work revolves around the vessel or a container of sorts. I don’t know if that is a characteristic of wood turning or my interest in hollow forms. Recently, I have been adding a spout and sometimes a stopper. It helps define the form as a container, something that may have a liquid to be carefully poured out, giving it a purpose besides being a hollow form.
Tell us a bit about the process.
My work begins with a raw chunk of wood. I live in a forest so finding wood is not difficult. I use a wood lathe to shape the form into something that pleases my eye. I always hollow the piece to avoid cracking and to make it lighter. I prefer to work with fresh wet wood since it is easier to work and less dusty. The finished form usually takes at least a month to dry before I can do any carving. I enjoy carving and painting my pieces to add interest to the work.
How long does it take for you to complete a piece from start to finish?
I have so many pieces I work on in different stages, that I don’t keep
track. It has taken me 45 years to learn everything there is to make a piece like these.
What drew you to work with wood and what continues to bring you back and sustain your ambition?
I have been in construction most of my life, working with wood, concrete, and steel. Wood is what I enjoy the most. The smell, feel, and natural beauty is what keeps me coming back.
What does creativity mean to you and what fuels it in your life and work?
Creativity helps define us and who we are as humans. It is a silent language universal to all of us no matter where our origins lie. Maybe I am a captured audience, but I see art everywhere in shapes, patterns, and colors. Art helps me realize there is abundant beauty to enhance our lives. Sometimes the negative news we hear daily needs to be turned off so we make time to look around us.
Tell us about a time where you felt discouraged or full of self-doubt and how you moved past it.
The first things I made on a lathe thrilled me. After a few years of wood turning, I brought my best work to a National Symposium of Woodturners. There were thousands of other beautiful works displayed and mine just disappeared in the maze. I tried everything I knew to find my own voice, buying new tools, using exotic woods, etc. One day I took one of my fresh new forms and cut in half, removing a section of the form. I glued the pieces back together and carved and painted it. I took this rather rustic piece to a gathering of fellow woodturners and from their comments, I realized I was onto something. I heard encouraging words that day and have continued to experiment with this method called “lost wood”. It’s been 4-5 years of playing with this style, and I still get a thrill at the possibilities.
Describe to us the feeling of being in your “flow” as an artist.
Some of my work has touched on the idea of nature’s cycles. So much around us happens in cycles, and the flows and ebbs for me, also, come in cycles. When I am not feeling creative, I clean my shop or improve a tool or workspace so when the flow returns, I’ll be ready to go. I know when I am flowing because I get lost in the process, much like a book you can’t seem to put down.
What is the best piece of advice you were given early on in your career as an artist?
We were all artists when we were five years old. Give us some crayons or finger paint and we could create masterpieces. We knew that because our moms told us they were. I learned you shouldn’t create to please others, you have to create to please yourself.
Photo by Karin Strickland