Holly Eliza Temple’s tactile design practice brings people and plates together
Through her physically engaging designs, the Manchester-based, community-focused creative hopes to generate conversations about relationships with food, mental health, and the natural environment.
- Olivia Hingley
- 9 June 2022
You’ll be hard pushed to come across someone who is more passionate about food in design than Manchester-based creative Holly Eliza Temple. Leading her practice with a passion for printed material, the designer has numerous publications and projects under her belt, all focusing on the vast intersections between culinary culture and community. “Food is inextricable from the rest of our lives – from health, spirituality and relationships, to politics, economics, and the environment,” Holly begins, “I think part of the appeal is that I know I could continue researching and learning for my entire life and never be done.”
Originally, Holly studied for an undergraduate degree in fashion communication. But, with the course centring so heavily on “making things that would sell or have a very commercial place”, Holly found herself leaning away from the world of fashion. This is what led her to create the publication Filler – a food and mental health publication. Filler was also influenced by Holly’s personal struggles in her relationship with food, and the project quickly became a “catalyst” for her own recovery. “Honest discussions around food are not covered very transparently by mainstream media without it having an agenda to sell us something,” Holly details. “I wanted to create this experimental, friendly and creative space for people to share that.” Currently working on issue six of the magazine, around the theme of community, Holly is keen to ensure the project stays “personal” – each issue has a different format based on each issue’s theme. “I actually like how I can see my own design knowledge and experience growing when I look through each issue,” Holly adds.
After graduating Holly spent a year working in hospitality, developing Filler and “struggling to pay rent”. Then, Holly decided to move to Manchester and study for a master’s in graphic design and art direction. An “amazing experience”, the course also “solidified” her interest in print and design. Being an avid collector “always scouring charity and antique shops for little bits of ephemera or printed matter” the course gave Holly the space to explore making her own personal artefacts. “Handling printed matter can generate more response in the emotional part of our brain which I think is so amazing, it’s so important to have those multi-sensory experiences with content – especially during the pandemic when everything became digital and touching was almost a taboo,” Holly expands.
Holly’s MA research resulted in her publication Common Fields, which explores the concept of ‘commensality’, a term which Holly sees as having come to define her work. “It’s actually a biological term used to describe a relationship where one species might feed or benefit off another without the other being affected – but it’s been adopted to human behaviour too,” Holly explains. “I think it’s quite funny that even the scientific definition kind of describes the act of feeding us one another as a sign of care.” Common Fields feels like a perfect summary of both Holly’s aesthetic approach and personal ethos. Entirely hand-printed and bound, it features a combination of digital and grainy Risoprint printing, wobbly, characterful handwritten typography, vintage imagery and different textures of paper. Even when looking at it on a screen you can tell how tactile of an object it is, something you would want to pick up, feel and spend a quiet moment flicking through.
Whether it’s organising an online dinner party and sending handmade recipe cards over lockdown or helping out at her community garden, most of Holly’s work revolves around working with and engaging with her community. One such project that emulates this is her work with Rule of Threes, a Merseyside-based social organisation which supports art-focused projects which create agency for change in communities. The project, Moon in Venus, “proposes to reimagine the issue of debt” with local women and to “explore a future free from debt”. Holly designed the project’s visual identity and material promoting a pop-up space which provided free money management and energy-saving advice. Creating a Riso flyer featuring purple hues and 60s inspired typography, the work balanced important information with inviting aesthetics perfectly. Discussing her use of “unpredictable” Riso printing for community projects, Holly explains that “there’s something so special about having these printed outcomes that might be a little bit wonky or misaligned – because working with people isn’t predictable either.”
Looking to the future Holly is hoping to bring her love of growing and working the land into her creative practice. “An amazing thing about being outside in an allotment or a garden is the people they connect you to,” Holly concludes, “so I would be happy if I just kept meeting people with creative ideas about how to connect us with our land and our food, and the people around us – it all goes hand in hand”.
GalleryHolly Eliza Temple: Common Fields (Copyright © Holly Eliza Temple, 2021)
Holly Eliza Temple: Common Fields (Copyright © Holly Eliza Temple, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.