Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cas Holmes

Writing on Red Walls

     Cas Holmes is an artist, teacher and author living in the UK. She trained in painting and photography at the University of Creative Arts, Kent followed by further scholarships studying paper and textiles in Japan and India. Working with textiles and mixed media, she creates textile collages using discarded and ‘found materials’. These are torn, cut, and re-assembled creating translucent layers, which connect drawing, painting and image, with clothe and stitch.

Preniac Grasses

     The Artist has a down-to-earth approach to life and her art takes her on flights of fancy, which evoke folk cultures, traditions and mythology with an abandon, which ignores all barriers. Sometimes figurative, sometimes wholly abstract she has an unerring faith in her feeling for her materials. Confidence pours from her work and with it a power and sophistication that brings to it an almost religious sensation of ancient wisdom revisited.

Red Bowl                             Spring Snow

     Cas is passionate about the environment and her use of recycled and found materials. Her imagery highlights the vulnerability of the wildlife that most of us overlook in our daily lives – the nature that shares our city spaces. Some of her work had been prompted by the start of the London Olympics. She remember the walks she’d taken in the Lea Valley before building work had started at the site, where she had stopped to take note of the beauty of the commonplace wildlife such as the dandelions, grasses, birds and moths that she came across. The work is wonderfully delicate and ethereal. Layering fine fabrics, with a subtle use of colour, she creates the atmospheric backgrounds for her hand and machine stitched images, highlighting the fleeting nature of such encounters.

             Tulip                           Amber Walls

     She is interested in recording the changes that might impact on the flora and landscape of South East of England and her adopted County, Kent. Holmes is looking at political and social as well as climatic change. Flooding, as witnessed in the American South and the Tsunami in Japan, and its impressive physical changes to the landscape raises issues about our fragile relationship with the local and global environment.

Natural History Kaleidoscope    

     Looking at translucent layers, connecting paint, mark and print with the found surfaces of fabrics and papers she seeks the 'hidden edges' of our landscape, the verges of our roadsides, railway cuttings and field edges, the places where our gardens meet the outside spaces. Worked with what Cas describes as 'stitch sketching' these atmospheric pieces seeking to capture a moment or thing before it is gone.

Arches                           Mendhi Book           

     The often-overlooked things of daily life and observations of the land inform her work. Connecting paint, mark and image she reflects the ‘hidden edges’ of our landscape, verges, field edges and wild spaces, ‘stitch sketching’ to capture a moment before it is gone. Her work is inevitably influenced by her visits to Japan but more as someone who would use that influence to reaffirm her own strengths. That is her originality.

Weeds by the West Door       Carkins           Bridges, Reflection

     Holmes' textured, translucent, and intricate textile art is a testament to the history of this medium, as well as the social and political undertones that it implies. Devoted to incorporating historical and found objects in her artwork, Cas creates layers of both fabric and meaning, inspired by her travels, her hometown of Maidstone in Kent, England, and her interest in the societal role of textiles both past and present. Her stirring work has been well recognized in her community; as the Pride of Britain award she received from the NRI® Institute for her research in India and the resultant body of work exploring her Romany gypsy ancestry.

After the Rain                           Counting Crows

     Her materials are overwhelmingly organic and appear to have been given new life. Paper ages and crinkles with a will of its own and is made exquisitely into a Japanese style panels allowing light to pass through, or are incorporated into one of her unique quilted hangings. Behind it all there is a sense of grand design under the control of the artist. It is both decorative and rich in symbolism.

Grassland Book

     The Artist is deeply moved by the stories of ordinary people's lives, the births, marriages and deaths; the diseases brought on by harsh working conditions and the way these hard facts are hidden from history, forgotten with the passing of time. Her work, often contain snippets of text or discarded materials and objects that have associations or that conjure up memories. There is always a dialogue with the materials she uses. They bring their own history, which is woven into the work.

Giant Hogweed                           Ginko     

     Cas Holmes makes art. If it happens to reference the techniques of the quilter, it is coincidence - same brush, different painting. Her work has a primitive quality that wanders the earthly through the ethereal. Translucent layers of painted fabrics, collaged papers or stitched bits combine and then recombine across different series of her work. Cas sketches regularly. She brings this quality to her thread painting; which is more thread sketching with frenetic stitch lines that capture movement and personality. The simplicity of her thread sketching brings a charm to her work and a sense of urgency, as if we need to look now to see a moment or thing before it is gone. This simplicity can also bring reassurance to any of us - to say that we need not worry about the perfection of every line of stitching. In this medium, we can cast off the yoke of perfectly spaced, even stitching and embrace the moment of "doing". Continuing to develop her techniques, drawing and use of colour remain the foundation for all her work. The fragments of found materials are layered and mark the passing of time, the rituals of making (drawing, cutting, gathering materials, machining, sewing) acting as part of the narrative of the work.

Imperfect Plant                         Bluebell       

     Her work relates to the natural and built world and the elements that make it up. She lives in a house which edges on a park bringing the Urban and 'Nature' together. Cas like to make drawings, take photographs and gather found materials from within my footsteps as part of the regular journeys she makes from her front door. The process of looking and recording helps to establish the environmental links between the built and 'natural' spaces as well as addressing issues of sustainable practice. She is interested in the open landscape, the shadows of marks made by man in the earth, the reflections in water and flooded fields, gardens and seasons changing. Holmes refers to this process in her book “The Found Object in Textile Art”, as 'Magpie of the Mind'.

Indian Journal                             Pendulous Dark Woods

     Cas Holmes regularly exhibits in the UK and abroad and enjoy working on collaborations and installations with other artists. This includes the installation “Curiouser and Curiouser” at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery and workshops in Europe and Australia. Her book “The Found Object in Textile Art”, (published by Batsford 2010), looks at some of the processes.
     After obtaining a Fine Arts degree in the early eighties, her understanding of paper and related media was further enhanced through two periods of long-term study in Japan in the mid to late eighties (supported by the Japan Foundation and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust).

           Traces: Installation, Rochester Cathedral

     In 1991, she was given a joint award with South East Arts and the British Council to research art based organisations and community groups in Canada. She focused on those, which used re-cycled and found materials in their projects. Exchanges, talks and workshops remain an important part of her practice and more recently she have studied and worked in Europe, India and Australia.
     Cas Holmes creates works for public and private settings and has pieces in collections around the world, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York, Arts Council England and the Sir Leonard Cheshire Foundation.
     To find out more about her you can visit her website:

Bird Crow                              Cuttings   

Marsh Valerian                          Rouge         


Sandshadows                      Souls and Feather       


Cas Holmes