Urban Nature

It is not often that you come across an artist that plays between the worlds of human and natural. Most find inspiration either in one or the other; we are all familiar with textile work that holds urbanity or nature as its core inspiration. However, Cas has found a third way, the point where both touch, not collide, but touch. This haunted land full of “the shadows of marks made by man in the earth”, of “reflections in water and flooded fields”, of “gardens and seasons changing”, is one that is often missed by the passer-by and artist alike, but it is a rich and rewarding place as Cas has shown in her work. It is an inspirational well of harmony and balance, as well as of conflict and division. Something shared and something complimentary, as she says herself “We have an intimate relationship with the land, but equally share ‘common connection’.

John Hopper, The Edgelands of Cas Holmes, Fiber Art Now 2014, (also used by kind permission of the Author and Fiber Arts Now for the introduction to Stitch Stories.

Cup and Eucalyptus Flower 
Urban Nature looks at our connection to the world around us, where our sense of the personal and urban space meets the 'hidden' or overlooked places of the broader landscape.
With 'stitch sketching',  I seek to capture a moment or thing before it is gone: the intimate  views from our windows, and the seasonal changes in our gardens, to the broader interest of wild flower habitat on the verges of our roadsides and field edges and the low lying land of my native Norfolk, in (waterland). Intuitive in its response to the linear, textural and light qualities to be found in the landscape, compositions evolve from working with found materials, cloth and paper. Marks are stained, scratched,  drawn and stitched into the surfaces as part of the process of the creation of the work.
Installations produced for my guest exhibition at the 20th anniversary of the European Patchwork Meeting in September (sponsored by Husqervarna/Pfaff) and 7th International Quilt Festival in Luxembourg continue to evolve and change with new pieces and shown in in one person shows at the Visions Art Museum, California a military building in Le Mans, France. This includes the ongoing community piece Tea-Flora-Tales,   with contributions from individual makers, groups and Embroiderers Guild members, which will be exhibited at major international textile events in 2017-18.
You can see a few images of this evolving installation below and in my catalogue Urban Nature
      Visions Art Museum, San Diego


Parc Du Monod, Le Mans, France


Blue Thistle (left) B is for Bird (right).  Mattress ticking and old pillowcases have been used in these pieces. I re-use natural and synthetic materials, found or given to me. Including discarded paint rags, old clothing and even mattress ticking dumped on a vergeMy concern ties in with issues of sustainability, considered use of resources and the impact this has on flora and fauna.
Wisteria (left) and Crimson Flower (right) The backing cloth contains images of Poppies, Daisies and Cornflowers and was donated to me in the Netherlands alongside the lace. Both pieces use old net curtains and fragments of tea stained linen cloth/clothing .
    Waterland (left) and Tea Flora Tales installation

Follow this link for an animated version
You can get involved in protecting our native wildflowers by participating in Tea-Flora-Tales. Help to preserve our wildflowers, verges, wild spaces and their related habitats by visiting www.plantlife.org.uk or you can donate direct.

Patchwork Professional January 2016

Glimpse of Wayside Weeds at The Front Room Gallery, Beaney. Canterbury
Detail of Ranscombe
Cas Holmes brings inspiration down to earth where each or us can grab hold of it anytime, anywhere, if we are of the mind to be open to everything around us…the most familiar, the most ordinary, and how it all is really extraordinary…the pure, joyful,simplicity of it all.
 Amy Mimu Rubin (Artist)

Living in the city it has become our custom to call into the Beaney Front Room to see the ever varying exhibitions, installations and events. This is a great hanging space, light and airy but intimate and not too oppressive or too ‘precious’; an enjoyable and accessible space. Cas Holmes is no stranger to our various galleries across Kent and of course much further afield and has again brought a range of her salvaged and re-worked textiles, fabrics, lace, prints and word by way of the clearly popular ‘Urban Nature’ exhibition.
When we visited there was a throng of people of all ages coming and going, some clearly were artists or makers but most were people who were enjoying a quiet few minutes away from the Christmas High Street to explore her works on display. The colours are truly beautiful, vibrant and subtle at the same time - over-laid and re-worked with beautifully drawn and intricate needle-work, ‘stitch-sketching’, scraps of text, fleeting observations from nature, formal and wild, local and universal and occasionally the unexpected. Strips of gloriously restructured fabric hangs and float from suspended frames reminiscent of the scraps of fabric taken from dresses and clothes past worn, which can be seen adorning some village graves in Turkey – very natural, very real, just life. Wall hung pieces are more substantial, often lightly quilted but with that same attention to detail; so many stories told from one piece to another. I particularly like the smaller post-card sized pieces collaboration strung onto ribbon hanging in the corridor windows which include decorated lace, text, scraps but all with a completeness that is very satisfying.

Sue Pellagrino, Canterbury Resident and retired therapist.

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. Her newest pieces of work had been prompted by the start of this summer’s 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.While visitors lingered to admire her work, Cas reinforced the messaging by distributing empty used tea bags, challenging her audience to use them in a collaborative piece 'Tea-Flora-Tales' as a starting point for their own stitched pieces of work. 
Diana Brown

More images from the exhibition:


Peddar's Way. Based on a Roman Pathway in North Norfolk
Detail Of Tulip
Tulip and general view of exhibition
Detail of Wayside Weeds

All images and text copyright Cas Holmes 2018.

All rights reserved.

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