Conversation with Cas Holmes

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CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKERS(CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?

CAS HOLMES(CH) I cannot remember a time when I did not want to draw, to make to create. My father even found me in the middle of a big bonfire pile he had made for Guy Fawkes day making a little den.

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?
CH Creating ‘poppy dolls’ with my Romany Grandmother. Using all kinds of ‘found’ things to play with in the garden.
CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
CH A small room in my house..but really, the whole house gets used as a studio and I will work wherever I can, even on a train, bus and if desperate, have sketched out ideas on a sick bag on a plane!

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
CH I don’t know what a typical day is. I am up early and will do necessary admin…but find I get distracted and start to move things around in the studio for a while. I just want to spend time making and have to force myself to do the more ‘mundane’ things to support my creativity. The ‘mundane’ does not include teaching by the way. I love sharing and exchanging ideas and the buzz we all get from stretching ourselves.

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

CH We have a Norfolk tale ‘A man meets another man with a Donkey on the road. He asks ‘where are you going with that there Donkey? The reply ‘Wherever the donkey leads me’. Process is the Donkey. My ideas and outcomes come from the response to materials and place.

 CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

CH Too right!

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

CH My brain, my hands, my eyes. I can pick up most anything as I go.

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

CH I come from Norfolk, where there’s a saying that people who live in Norfolk do things different. And the local college, the University of East Anglia, has adopted the motto, “Do different.” So perhaps it’s in-bred for me to look at things with different eyes!
It’s not just about recycling, but about re-using found objects and textiles so that they are still recognizable, but used in a different way. We are surrounded by things that are carelessly disposed of and overlooked, such as paper and other things I like the happenstance of gathering things from within my footfall.

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
CH I am not sure I ever do. They are all just resting stages. All ready for shows but the work is constantly moving.
CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is…
CH Whatever I can find, the Natural and Built environment. It’s similar to the Japanese concept of wabi sabi: greatness exists in overlooked details..

CWTM Favourite quote?
CH ‘With opportunity comes responsibility’. This is on my Winston Churchill medal given after my Fellowship. Pretty hard to forget and can I have one more/
‘All artists make mistake, great artists know which ones to keep ‘ Picasso He also said ‘Good artists borrow, great artists steal.!

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
CH Walking to work and the first few minutes before getting out of bed.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

CH The challenge and the change. I like to be scared sometimes, excited and unsure.

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

CH Slow down.

 CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?

CH Slow down

 CWTM Best part of your day?

CH Being awake.

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?
CH Winston Churchill, Elisabeth 1st, Grayson Perry, My dad, my grandmother and Picasso (even if he was allegedly a womaniser). This list changes but dad and nan always.
CWTM What inspires your creativity?
CH I’m inspired by found objects and the physical world, materials gathered around my footsteps, working with what’s in front of me and my relationship to space. I live in an urban environment that overlaps a park. Because those two kinds of physical spaces interrelate—and I interrelate with them—it gives me a lot to work with.

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

CH Anything is possible

CWTM You’d be lost without…

CH my hubby. chocolate, sketchbook and a good needle

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
CH Make more stuff..finish my loft!
CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
CH My hubby who is doing the loft..but sometimes chocolate wins!
CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
CH Makes communication at once more immediate and possible globally as well as more dense and intense. Photography and recording is so much easier.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
CH The challenge of making something from nothing and the freedom to express my ideas.
CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
CH We all like to be acknowledged and people having faith in and liking what you do, as well as being challenged by your approach when teaching. Creating a joyful environment for creativity to happen is an essential tool. I have learnt from the mistresses of mirth and magic of which I count you as one.( CWTM Thanks!)Enough compliments now.

CWTM What is next for you?
CH I have workshops and exhibitions planned in Europe and the USA in the immediate future and am looking to go back to Australia in our summer and your winter 2015. I hate planning so far ahead but recognise the need…I like the unexpected.

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