Cas Holmes- Textile Landscape
Painting with Cloth in Mixed Media
Published by Batsford
UK £22.95; USA $29.95; Can $39.95
Cas explores how the notion of a traditional art subject, the landscape, is adapted for interpretation by textile artists. Cas has a strong affinity with nature. Her work in pieces such as 40 Yards, which was inspired by finding a piece of cloth with ’40 Yards’ printed on it and led to a series of work that mapped that area outside her home, and the Tree Lines studies which traced a path between Gillingham and Eccles, all draw on Cas’s experiences of the natural world. She works with the charity Plantlife and her Tea Flora Tales work was created to raise awareness of the work that they do.
Textile Landscape therefore is a much richer book as a result of the deep love of nature and preserving our wildlife that Cas has. There are tutorials and exercises on how to screenprint, keep a sketchbook, create a simple stitchscape and creating a rolled/folded journal but these are the tools for working in the way that Cas does.
What is fundamental to the book is the way that Cas and the other artists assimilate their landscapes and interpret that into their art through paint and stitch. This becomes the heart of the book and it is communicated in a beautifully poetic way. Cas talks about how we all build connections with our environment but the more you can translate those feelings in visual terms, the more you can express your sensibilities of place through textile art as “The transformation of ordinary fragments into extraordinary forms”.
You can capture moments before they change with light, weather or the seasons or find objects that evoke a strong memory. The beauty of working in textiles and mixed media means that found objects, real plants, photographs and fabric can all be incorporated into pieces and will create new layers of meaning. Coupled with Cas coaching the reader into taking time to record both the physical observations and emotional reactions to where you are will create a truly personal response.
The choices of other artists, such as Jan Beaney, Alison King and Jane Fairweather, perfectly reflects the ethos of the book. Marna Lunt expresses the artistic process beautifully:
“The landscape is not simply about what your eyes pick up in front of you, it is hugely biased by the emotions you feel when sat surrounded by it.”
By being tutored in the processes of recording information and translating that into stitch, the book leaves the reader yearning to explore their own connections to nature and how to communicate those emotions into a physical representation (not necessarily a reconstruction). It opens your eyes to the possibilities of artistic expression and invites you to explore how you respond to a landscape. I love the way that Cas’s work layers the physical fabric, paper, found objects and text with the reactions, memories and emotions and all these are held together with stitch. Textile Landscape is a complex, thought-provoking and multi-layered response to time and place as seen through the artist’s eyes but teaches us all how to look deeper in order to frame our own artistic vision.
If you like Cas Holmes's work, please see my Gallery of her work here by clicking on the picture below: