Urban Nature - Verges

by Cas Holmes

Wayside Weeds, from Urban Nature

Artists have always re-cycled and re-used materials and recently, given the current financial climate, the practice has become even more popular. Working with what Cas describes as 'stitch sketching' in Urban Nature, her atmospheric textile pieces meticulously re-use salvaged materials and textiles which include items as diverse as teabags, sweet wrappers, and old discarded textiles such as tablecloths and handkerchiefs. Looking at translucent layers, connecting paint, mark and print with the found surfaces of fabrics and papers she seeks the 'hidden edges' of our landscape. The verges of our roadsides, railway cuttings and field edges, the places where our gardens meet the outside spaces, seeking to capture a moment or thing before it is gone.

"Up to the last minute, whilst busy in preparation, issues close to my heart, the continued threat to wildlife and wildflowers, have found their way into my work. Working towards the shows [The Festival of Quilts and the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace] in the last few months has been a very intense time. I have not been oblivious to the Olympics and as Mo Farah crossed the 5000 metres line I thought of what was once there. I remembered taking some images of weeds and wild flowers whilst visiting Lea Valley a few years back. The edges of what was a brown field site and roadway had the most amazing flowers etched against the winter urban skyline. These 'hidden edges' of our landscape whilst not 'lovely' or maybe obviously 'useful', were once important wildlife habitats, and the Lea Valley was part of the green lung of London. One of the 'legacies' of the Olympics is the idea of limiting the environmental impact and issues of sustainability, and I wait to see how this legacy develops in the Lea Valley area and what returns to viable habitat for plants and wildlife."

Daisy Daisy

"Maybe, to balance my interest in the Olympic story whilst wanting to create new pieces, I started to make some small 'sketches' of these weeds, reflecting my ongoing interest in wild spaces on the edges of our urban environment."

Bow Back Bladderseed

Hackney Marsh Edges sold

Daisy Daisy

"Part of the exhibition Urban Nature includes work on an ongoing stitched collaborative piece, Tea, Flowers and Tales. Composed of small pages from an old book on stitch pattern, people who visited me spent some time stitching to this 'daisy chain' piece or have since been sending me pieces to add to the chain. You are welcome to hand stitch a small memento/piece of waste fabric with flora image on it, to make a continuing record reflecting these special places. Please bring your piece to me at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally in October 2012 and I will add it to the chain. I am sorry, I cannot return the piece to individual makers; but I hope to keep the chain going to create an installation at Patchwork Europe in 2014."

Tea, Flowers and Tales

See updates on www.casholmes.blogspot.com.

You can get involved in supporting the wild flowers by visiting www.plantlife.org.uk. Sign their Road Verge campaign to protect roadside plants.

Installation from Urban Nature

Quote: Cas Holmes has a down-to-earth approach to life and her art takes her on flights of fancy, which evoke folk cultures, traditions and mythology with an abandon which ignores all barriers. Sometimes figurative, sometimes wholly abstract she has an unerring faith in her feeling for her materials. Confidence pours from her work and with it a power and sophistication that brings to it an almost religious sensation of ancient wisdom revisited. Her work is inevitably influenced by her visits to Japan and India but more as someone who would use that influence to reaffirm her own strengths. That is her originality. A sense of provocation displays her commitment to art as part of life and shows richly in her dedication to community projects into which she throws herself like an avenging demon.
Ralph Steadman

More about Cas Holmes

  • Fine Arts Graduate UCA
  • Her work is held in public collections including the Museum of Art and Design, New York, Arts Council England and The Edward James Foundation.
  • Author of the 'Found Object in Textile Art' 2010 (reprinted 2011) . Currently working on her second book,Connected Cloth. about collaboration in textiiles, with Anne Kelly
  • Recepient of the Pride of Britain Award by the NRI Institute for her educational work in the UK and India. (2010)
  • Winston Churchill Fellow and Japan Foundation Fellow.
  • Artist of Romany ancestry.


Cas Holmes offers workshops in paper, textiles, mixed media, drawing and the use of found materials.