Interview with Nicoletta Corbett

Holding On
Special Mention 2023

Our hands are an extension of our thinking mind, they are how we interact with our environment. Through touching, we create and we connect. However, after the onset of COVID-19, almost overnight, physical contact became minimal. Holding On’s forty-five symbols interrogate what motivated the local community of Falmouth, Cornwall, during a time of uncertainty by capturing the impact of this global event on individuals. Each visual is a translation of marks left by the project’s participants’ gripping onto clay slabs when provoked to think about what kept them going during the pandemic.

To create this project’s symbols, clay seemed the most fitting medium to work in, as it pays homage to one of the first forms of visual communication: cave paintings and the simple, natural materials used then. Collaborating with individuals from the Falmouth community, the malleable clay mirrored the emotions they felt as they thought of what gave them hope during a tumultuous time in human history. As a result, the clay participants grasped became a canvas of connection in isolation. The corresponding images were then bitmapped so the visual focus was on the impressions participants hands’ made.

Ultimately, Holding On’s symbols makes a global issue personal by focusing on a concentrated group of people’s reaction to a time worldwide distress, and serves as a time capsule of members of a tight knit community’s values and personalities.

Nicoletta Corbett

Nicoletta Corbett studies Graphic Design at Falmouth University in Cornwall, England. Corbett works across various mediums including photography, printmaking, and bookbinding. Her current work focuses on delving into the intricacies of the human relationship with intimacy through working with clay. She is also interested in exploring the correlation between design and nature by using waste as medium, reimagining it as a valuable resource.