Kathryn M Holford

Pays d'Auge, Normandy
Kathryn M Holford
Image: Mark Rowden

A journey from glass to fine art

In Kathryn's own words:

It’s interesting that I always seem to end up in the place I need to be. Usually, I have no idea when I go there and only after I have been there for a while do I realise I am in the perfect place.

It took a change of country to bring out my desire to paint. I think if I hadn’t moved to France in 2017, it wouldn’t have surfaced.

The impetus for the move was an ending. After a 30-year career as a glass designer and sculptor, I was done. I had no desire to continue. Also, much to my surprise, I had no desire to continue living in Brighton. I put my flat on the market, packed up my studio, and within a few months my partner Mark and I were living in Normandy.

You know those moments of realisation that come from nowhere? A few months later, I found myself crying, sitting on the grass in a park in Honfleur. I felt into the sense that I wasn’t allowed to be a painter, something I didn't then know I wanted.

Sometimes a massive change is needed to unearth old patterns, old programmes that try to stop us from developing.

The year before, on holiday to the same region, Mark commented on my drawing ability after seeing some sketches I was making of local scenes. I had always taken drawing for granted, using it every day in my design work, thinking nothing of it. It took someone else to notice it for me to acknowledge my skill, and that’s where I started.

It was the move to another house in the countryside of lower Normandy and which had a large art atelier, that really set me on my course.

The light in the landscape was the inspiration and the desire to communicate the joy and wonder I felt was driving me. I spent three years in retreat, learning to paint through practice and occasional masterclasses. I painted every day, discarded many attempts, and developed a style I now see has a strong thread of connection with my previous practice as a glassmaker. The simplicity of line, light and colour brought together in sensuous curving forms continue in my painting.

In 2019 I exhibited locally in France, and in 2020 opened my studio for the first time with great success.

At the end of 2020, Mark and I moved back to the UK, settling in Cambridgeshire, the place of my birth but where I have never lived since. I find the similarities between the landscape and light in Normandy and Cambridgeshire both a surprise and comfort, and some of the wilder and stark landscapes of the fens really inspiring. There is a sense of homecoming to this landscape.

Once again, I find myself in the perfect place to be.

© Kathryn M Holford, 2024

Katy Holford glass designer

Kathryn M Holford
Image: Mark Rowden