Painting with Cloth

19th October 2019 Conference (SOLD OUT!)

Guest Speaker - Cas Holmes

Cas trained in fine arts and works between the disciplines of painting, drawing and textiles. Salvaged materials are torn, cut and re-assembled to create mixed media pieces, which draw their inspiration from ‘hidden’ or ‘overlooked’ observations of daily life. She likes to use the remnants of domestic life, rags and cloths, pieces of old clothing that are
handled and worn, evidencing ‘human contact’. She makes reference to the views from windows, the weeds and flora on the roadside verges and field edges, and the places where gardens meet the ‘greater landscape’. She describes her process as ‘stitch-sketching’ and ‘painting with cloth’, as she seeks to capture a moment or thing before it is gone. This talk and workshop drew on material  from her fourth book with Batford: Painting with Cloth.

REPORT on our October Conference in Hemel Hempstead:

 Cas Holmes: ‘Painting with Cloth’

This workshop explored the character and qualities of paper and found material as a surface for working. There was a focus on hand stitching as an extension of mark-making and various means of manipulating, attaching and joining surfaces. We used different threads to build up a range of distressed, torn, manipulated and collage surfaces to create new elements of interest in our work. We practised a method adapted from the Japanese paper technique ‘momigami’. The pieces resulting from our creative explorations could be used as a starting point for collage, stitching, 3D or sculptural work.

The workshop was excellent and greatly enjoyed by all participants (see photos below). Cas won one of our ERTF raffle prizes and incorporated the winning ticket in a piece of her stitching!

From Donna Goymer:

The way that Cas works is inspiring to me in that all her pieces of work are reflective of her experiences within the world around her.  She has a connection with the piece whether that is through the found cloth she uses, the symbolic meanings and the narrative of the piece and even to the venues where the pieces of work are hung.

 Cas quotes:

 “Listen to the cloth and paper you are working on and how you interact with it”

“If a piece of work is too specific it leaves no space to explore”

“There is a power in stitch: suffragettes made their own banners”

“Cultural identity is important.  We can and should be inspired by it but not use it as our own.  We should respect culture by using it to write a new, different story.”

 From Janet Cook:

Cas Holmes is a textile artist of great renown, deservedly so.  She shared with us her passion for using only “found” materials in her work, be it fabric, paper or colouring agents such as paint, dyes, pencils etc.  I was very impressed with her travelling sewing kit, and thought back to the dyes, fabrics, ‘Inktense’ and a range of other pencils and pens, sewing kit for every possibility, sketch books, watercolour paints, brushes, water containers, kitchen roll, plastic bag to sit on/contain waste, and selection of sweets that I consider necessary for a trip!
I must say I found her description of cutting fabric from old mattresses thrown out on the street rather uncomfortable, but that is her way of working.  She is true to her ideals.  I will use the excuse of my stash for not following her on that one.

We were put to work quite early in the day, being given until a much needed lunch break to reduce 5 pieces of paper into limp scraps suitable for accepting a needle.  After a brief half hour we once again settled to “organising” our papers and using a running stitch to create, well, something.  For me, not having a sketch or two to guide me, I found the start of this process a struggle.  However, by the time we were all called up to display our pieces, I had a fair idea of where I was going and what needed to be added next.  The piece was beginning to tell a story, which is the way I like to work.  It’s also the way Cas works.

From Sue Green:

We were very lucky to enjoy a day with Cas Holmes who uses a wide range of techniques in her pieces.  In the workshop, we explored the effect of a crumpling technique on different types of paper, bringing the crumpled paper together in a collage, which is then stitched.
During the session, Cas discussed her thought processes, inspiration in the natural environment and ways of connecting the various elements to bring a story to life in her pieces.  Behind the simple process, there was such a range of effects due the type of paper and the amount of crumpling.  One of the group had crumpled a brown paper bag and, by the time she had finished, this had been transformed into a piece which looked more like an old piece of leather!  
A fascinating day, so thank you to Cas for bringing her inspiration and enthusiasm and to the ERTF committee for arranging a thought provoking session.

And from Cas Holmes…:

Such a welcoming group who worked hard, laughed a lot and listened and exchanged creative ideas. 

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