‘Remnants, Layers, Threads’ was a solo show for Toronto artist Ann Holmes showcasing a series of artist journals she had completed over a 40 year period. The exhibition also contained Holmes’ personal collection of print media and a series of recent textile works. It was held at independent community arts space Back Lane Studio.

Ann Holmes, like many students, began keeping personal journals as a practice of self-documentation during her time studying art at Fanshawe College – and she never stopped. Over the ensuing years this continuous process has resulted in the creation of over 80 notebooks filled with a variety of writing, drawing and collage. Remnants, Layers, Threads is a retrospective look at these years of diaristic writing and collecting. The installation comprises completed books as well as new work created in response to visual themes uncovered as Holmes looked back through her journals.

Diaries have the power to evoke questions surrounding memory, the impulse to write and the different ways individuals create meaning in their lives. For Holmes they have served as a space for reflection, refuge, and tracking changes she has observed in herself over time. By presenting them to others they transform from records of one person’s life into a symbol for all humans’ desire to document our experiences. Many of us keep journals we will never display, perhaps because they contain information that is too private to share or a truth that would harm someone else in the moment, but none-the-less must be preserved. They are an important space to preserve thoughts without censorship and so they become methods for returning to our past and rediscovering who we were, where we went and what we felt.

While there is no single answer to the question “why do I write” Remnants, Layers, Threads demonstrates how process or practice in itself may be valuable All attempts at honest creation should be appreciated and leave the individual creators changed. With these notebooks Holmes invites you to look at who she has been throughout her life and in turn to remember yourselves.