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Home Journal Kindred Tales | Holly Frean | Artist

Tell us a bit about your work and how it all started?

I have always painted portraits; it began as a sideline to support my painting practice ever since I graduated from art school. I have been asked to paint dog portraits more recently and this year 90% of all commissions coming my way feature man’s best friend.

I am dog-less but I’ve been painting dogs most days this last year. In early 2020 I was busy preparing for a solo exhibition of dog portraits - about two thousand in fact - for the Kennels at Goodwood House, West Sussex. So dogs (photos and paintings, at least) were scattered all over my studio - they were literally lying everywhere in the house! All my 2020 exhibitions have been postponed until next spring, when we all hope covid will be more under control then I can show them off! Until then they will be safely wrapped up in my studio;


Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Holly’s portrait of Afghan Hounds (a study commissioned by British fashion designer Paul Smith) will be on display at the Royal Academy’s Summer exhibition.

DOG at Goodwood House
‘DOG’ comprises a collection of eighteen paintings, each one a group of dog portraits, with a focus on the breeds associated with the Goodwood Estate and the ancestral portraits within. The highlight of the exhibition will be two large oil-on-canvas diptychs measuring 10ft x 6ft (304 x 183 cm). The first is ‘Assembly’ showing a mixture of breeds and the second is ‘Dotty’, a large group of dalmatians. These will be joined by four framed groups, each encompassing 49 individually painted canvases: ‘Labrador’, ‘Poodle’, ‘Hound’ and ‘Lurcher’.

The Dog Show, Brighton May 2021
The DOG SHOW, Holly will be showing a selection of her highly individual dog paintings.

Tell us about the dogs currently into your life

There are lots of dogs in my life: I’ve been closest to my parent’s border terriers Rudi, Twiglet and Durham. I go out for dog walks with my friends and their furry friends, I jog round the common which is now packed with lockdown pups at the moment and I paint other people’s dogs every day - however I don’t currently have a dog I can call my own! I am in the process of adopting my first greyhound though – here’s hoping all goes to plan.

When you’re not painting dogs where do you like to spend your spare time?

In Sussex, we walk Rudi every day up the Downs. He loves nothing more than to zoom off way out of sight and chase birds and rabbits. We have long since given up calling for him (he has selective hearing of course like most border terriers) and he usually slopes back home after dark.

What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk?

Poo bags are not necessary in the countryside! Just the usual treats in my pocket, for on the rare occasions Rudi comes when we call him, he gets a tasty reward.

What adventures do you have planned for later this year?

Social distancing rules have sadly meant we’ve only left the Big Smoke to see Rudi (oh - and my parents) once this year. Who knows - at this rate we’ll be happy if we get to spend Christmas together!

You can follow Holly's adventures on instagram and check out her latest work at the below exhibitions and on her website

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

DOG at Goodwood House

The Dog Show, Brighton May 2021

Kindred Tales | Holly Frean | Artist