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  • Art. Exhibition. Katharine Holmes: In Grandmother's Footsteps. Harrogate

    29 Sep - 14 Jan

    Katharine Holmes: In Grandmother's Footsteps

    The Mercer Art Gallery

    Swan Road



    10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday and 2 – 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays. Closes at 4pm November to March.

    The essence of the Yorkshire Dales landscape, in all seasons, has been captured in a new series of paintings by artist Katharine Holmes who works in the open air in all weathers. KATHARINE HOLMES: In Grandmother's Footsteps opens on 16 September 2017 and runs until 14 January 2018 at the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

    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.

    Katharine comments, “People look at the landscape in the Dales and think that they are looking at an unchanged natural world, but of course they are not. This area has been occupied and farmed for centuries, with each generation adding to and taking away from the land in the ways that they lived on it.”

    ‘People may also be deceived into thinking that the Dales are just as they were in the nineteenth century, but they would be wrong. The greatest difference now is the intrusion of sound. The flight paths from Leeds Bradford airport fly directly over High Barn Cottage. I can look up in the sky and trace the vapour trails, and I’ve got an app on my phone that tracks planes as they fly over Malhamdale. I can identify which is which and I think about the people flying above.”

    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.

    Katharine adds, “Local people who look at my paintings are all aware of the beauty of the land. They have an all-consuming interest in their surroundings and they notice everything - wildlife, flowers – because they are in tune with nature”.

    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.


    Art, photography, Luca Tombolini

    Luca Tombolini



    Art, illustration, Mike McDonnell

    Mike McDonnell



    Art, sculpture, john oliverlewis

    john oliverlewis



    Art, collage, Taizo Matsuyama

    Taizo Matsuyama



    Art, photography, feiyi wen

    feiyi wen



    Art, sculpture, gemis luciani

    gemis luciani



    Art, sculpture, Harriet Horton

    Harriet Horton



    Art, painting, Ekaterina Yanovskaya

    Ekaterina Yanovskaya