Hold Tight

Emily Portmann

8 December 2022 - 2 January 2022

Free Admission

Hold Tight II Emily Portmann

Hold Tight II Emily Portmann

Hold Tight is a series of photographic and video works that explore the performative actions and needs of physical contact, such as being held, through the backdrop of a socially distant world. How will the present influence the future around actions of comfort and need post social distancing?

In these works, Portmann enacts actions of comfort, common positions of being held or holding onto someone, with a white shopfront mannequin. The resulting images and videos become a record of private performance, almost instructional in appearance. Contained within the works is the use of proprioception, captured within both the artist and the mannequin, that speaks not just of the physical, but also the psychological associations of physical contact between two people and the space of absence when it is not present.

The title of the work plays into the double entendre of the phrase itself. To Hold Tight is to both physically hold onto something or someone, as well as being to stay the course, seeing an event or period of time through to the end.


Emily Portmann is a Sydney based artist and graduate of the College of Fine Arts and the National Art School. She has exhibited locally, regionally and internationally. She has held solo exhibitions at MOP Projects, Perth Centre for Photography and Sullivan + Strumpf. She has been a finalist in over twenty art prizes including the Fisher’s Ghost, Olive Cotton and ABN Amro Emerging Artists Award.

Listen to Emily Portmann in Conversation with Sebastian Goldspink.

Exhibition gallery

Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf acknowledges that we are on the land of the Gadigal and Birrabirragal people, the traditional custodians of the land. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf is proudly owned and operated by Woollahra Municipal Council