In “Be Kind”, for example, a piece donated to a local hospital from Cas Holmes. “I wanted to convey the idea of care through the materials used. The image is my great grandmother, a Romani who worked as a volunteer in the last great Pandemic 100 years ago. It is a reminder that the service of healthcare is a valuable and long tradition. Her eyes gaze through time and she becomes symbolic of all of your profession. The piece is made of found materials, hand dyed, painted and stitched. Daisies are an ancient symbol of memory and fragility and are stitched and represented in the print of the cloth. Also included a rose printed summer dress and a sheer scarf.” Cas said.
“I once created an installation out of all the tea bags used in 40 days in my house. This was hung over a stairwell in offices near the refreshment area.” Cas recounted.
She said she spent a lot of my time walking. She doesn’t own a car, and she never ceases to be surprised at what she can find to use, as part of the unnecessary discards of our not only wasteful, but often very messy consumerist lives.
Cas shared a quote from the British sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy, which says, ‘I stop at a place or pick up material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn.’ This is Goldsworthy’s reflection on his creative process in 1990. In the process of discovery, Goldsworthy regarded the material as the distinct connection between time and place.
Magpies and crows have often featured in Cal’s work almost in a totemic way. “I see them as symbolic of intelligence. Like a magpie, I collect ideas, objects, materials and make sketches as I go.”
Cas studied in Japan which has equally laid some of the foundations of her thinking. She is influenced by the ideals of “wabi-sabi”, things often overlooked, details, worn surfaces and beauty that can be found in the transience of things. Research in India helped with a greater understanding of the roots of my heritage.
“All of my work uses reclaimed materials including cloth and paper and much of the media I use such as paint or dye is retrieved and salvaged from bins etc wherever I can find it. We have become careless in our care of this shared world.”
Cas更撰寫了《Found Object in Textile Art》（織物藝術中的拾得物）一書，很有系統地引導讀者由觀察身邊物件、工具的可能性、創作拾得的藝術方式，到作品以至哲學理念；由紙品到布藝以至立體塑造，像至身在旁般；隨手找來的線頭線尾、茶包咖啡漬、以至製作冰塊的模具也不會放過。
Cas even wrote a book, Found Object in Textile Art, to guide readers through the journey of exploring the objects and tools around them and creating with found objects. Her works and beliefs are discussed in the book — from paper products, textile art to three-dimensional modeling, as well as found objects such as loose thread, tea bags, coffee residue, and even ice cube mold.
She taught us to look at the everyday things around us with an artist’s eye, and that found objects can be used in textile art to convey meaning. Cas invites us to re-examine the world and use the limitations sometimes imposed by geographic area or individual circumstances as a rich resource to develop ideas for mixed media textiles in a more thoughtful way.
“Work as a nomad at home. Treat it as an adventure, your home can become a place for investigation.”
“At its heart, re-using found materials is a form of alchemy as you transform new things from old: Using ‘waste’ (and therefore cheap) materials allows the artist great freedom to take risks and experiment.”
“I live in a small home, so my materials are neatly stashed away on shelves and in boxes so they can be easily found. It is not to say that my studio is neat and tidy. It can be a chaos of mess when I am creating but I find the best practice for me is one I often pass onto my students and that is to ‘periodically tidy’.
This thriftiness and organsiation comes from my Romani heritage. One of my best finds was a vintage Bernina I found in a skip (large receptacle for trash) which after repair of the bobbin winder has given me solid use for 30 years. Not sure I have a minimal lifestyle but I do try and make as little impact as I can on the things I use.”
“This piece is one of the most recent series ‘Pani Kekkavva’ , a Triptych for my recent exhibition Gypsy Maker 4 project. It reflects the idea of family through the image of the ‘kettle’ and the idea of the comfort of Tea. My Great-Grandparents Romani heritage and their ancient ties to India are represented in the colours and the reclaimed sari and shawls used in the making of the artwork. The print method employs reclaimed materials such as oil paints retrieved from a bin. My father used oil paints as part of his signwriting trade.”
Cas Holmes’ artwork Pani Kekkavva (Kettle) Wagtail brings to our attention some important issues relating to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller experience. These include a focus on recycling and its increasingly important implications in conserving the world around us but perhaps more significantly the centrality of the idea of family within Gypsy, Roma and Traveller life. The central importance of the family within the Romani consciousness foregrounds a culture of group rather than individualistic emphasis—an idea of collectivism which is expressed by Romani groups through shared community responsibility.
This accommodation of collective responsibility is apparent in the way that Romani elders are regarded within the community and the ways in which their perspective is valued in the management of communal and family affairs.
“When I am traveling, my way of thinking and my approach to my work is constantly in motion and being challenged by the exchanges that I experience with people and places.”
It is said that Cas always carries with her a small tool bag. The bag is actually the amenity kit she picked up from the first-class cabin on the plane.
“I carry the bare minimum. If I forget something, I make do or improvise. I will exchange and dispose of resources – such as found objects, fragments of cloth and paper – as they catch my eye. Limiting what you use to what can easily be carried is a useful creative tool. The following items are in a small, portable kit whenever I am away.”
Old fabrics and clothing, oddments of lace machine and hand-stitched samples, serve as a connection to our past.
Stitch brings its own “story” with it, enabling us to articulate a complex process of ideas, images, material and emotion.
The connection to the “everyday” and “domestic” provides a wealth of inspiration that continues to inform the creative processes of Cas. Using the materials that are readily available, she manages to create lyrical works about time and space. As Cas always says,
‘WITH MAKING COMES MEANING.’
繼Stitch Stories（針黹故事）、Connected Cloth（連起的布）、 Textile Lanscape（織物景觀），期待 Cas 9月份出版的第5本著作 —— Embroidering the Everyday（刺繡日常）。