Katharine comes from three generations of artists, preceded by her grandmother Constance Pearson (1886 – 1970) and mother Philippa (1921 – 1999). When she was commissioned by Mercer Art Gallery curator Jane Sellars to make new work for a series of exhibitions on art and landscape in Yorkshire, she decided to mark this point in her own career by following in Constance’s artistic footsteps.
Katharine visited the places where her grandmother went to paint, not only in Yorkshire but further afield to Cornwall. Her idea was not only to connect with her family history and to explore these places with her own painter’s eye, but also to think about the essence of the landscape, the similarities and differences between her grandmother’s life in art and her own.
Katharine immerses herself in the Yorkshire Dales landscape, working in the open air in all weathers. She makes small ink and wash sketches, works directly in oil onto boards that held firmly on her lap, or in watercolour, gouache and ink onto sheets of paper that are ripped along the edges by the wind. Back in her studio at High Barn Cottage, Malham, she continues to work with her particular combination of plein air (open air) observation and memory. Holmes is enthralled by the weather and her work is defined by a sense of the season. The titles of her new paintings for the Mercer show have a seasonal precision, such as 'In the depths of Winter', 'Malhamdale', and 'Spring on Boss Moor'
She spent most of her painting time not far from Malham as her grandmother had done, in the local areas of the Dales. Constance was fond of the north Yorkshire coast, so Katharine spent painting time in the smooth, sheltering curve of Sandsend, the harshness of Staithes, and the artists’ community of Runswick Bay.
The exhibition is funded by Arts Council England and the show will be accompanied by a new publication about Katharine Holmes’ work by Jane Sellars. Artist and curator will be in conversation at a special event related to the Mercer exhibition at 2.00 pm on Monday 6 November 2017.