FEARLESS writer and artist Holly English is back with her second illustrated novel and once again the Byron Bay resident is taking no prisoners.
In her new Book of Wonders, Holly takes aim squarely at fake spirituality, the institution of marriage and women and aging, casting a critical and comedic eye over her own life and serving up some home truths.
Ms English, always a force to be reckoned with, most recently pushed to have local women's world surfing champion Pauline Menzcer's name included on the honour roll in Surf Alley in Byron Bay.
The Book of Wonders follows on from Byron Bay: A time and a place and contains several shorter stories including the tale of her 2010 trip to Burning Man.
"My new book is a comic-art collection of short stories, funny anecdotes and drawings and I experiment with a range of styles and mediums from instax film to oil pastel to traditional ink,” said Holly.
"I am setting out to explore themes around pseudo-spiritual practice and life's simple yet miraculous moments.
"I really do like to expose the fake spiritual scene that sometimes happens here in Byron Bay.
Holly does not dismiss spiritualism out of hand merely the self concious performative fake spiritualism that can manifest so readily on Instagram and on wellness blogs re-touched in glorious sunny photo filters.
"These bogus spiritual performance practices often feed into our own status anxiety with people needing to continually manifest their own beauty and togetherness with the help of generous amounts of cosmetic work and Botox injections- its often not true health,” Holly said.
Against the backdrop of our current marriage equality postal survey Holly's new work also chronicles several of her own "unofficial” marriages.
She tells the story of marrying herself in 2009, her boyfriend Reza at Burning Man in 2010, her girlfriend Natalie in 2014 and JP Sears in 2016.
"My point to this is that people often put a lot of emphasis on finding 'The One', whereas I think that marriage is about finding true love,” Holly said.
"So I intend to keep getting married to the people I love and I may even marry someone in a legal sense one day.
Ms English also boldly states her age throughout the comics and tackles the issues around women and ageing.
She believes modern culture empowers young women for their looks alone and disempowers older women.
"Our culture worships youth and women are often shamed in the media especially for aging and losing their looks whereas I believe there should definitely be pride in the wisdom we gain as we age.”
Both Holly's works are available from Mullumbimby Bookshop and at www.hollyenglish.com/shop.