My wonderful, creative, inspiring family

As a little insight into my life, I’m sharing work by members of my very talented family.


I grew up with art in my life; from those magical moments I remember from a very young age, when my dad took his parents’ massive art folder out from under the bed to show us their incredible, fragile works, to my A-Level in Art when I immersed myself in museums and books, and my Masters degree at the University of Glasgow during which I studied History of Art. 

With so many creative types in my family, it’s no wonder I’ve always had an interest in making things. Whether hours spent as a child painting away with my tongue sticking out in rapt concentration (dad has the photo evidence to prove it) or hours spent leaning over my desk to create my papercuts, it’s clear I’ve always had it in me!

Me at work!


First off are the two biggest creative influences in my life; my paternal grandparents. 

Sadly, I never met my granny and grandad – Mary Millicent and Ronald Frederick Holmes; they were killed in a car crash before I was born.

Both were immensely talented. Granny was a milliner, dress designer and wonderful artist; she could just look at my sister and run her up a perfectly-fitting dress in minutes. She was a classically beautiful woman (I must find a photo to show you) and all the old pics I’ve seen of her just ooze effortless style. I’m the proud owner of her beautiful Jones sewing machine.

R. F. Holmes: Hartlepool Docks, early 1950s (colour lithograph)

Grandad was a very skilled artist and graphic design teacher at Leeds College of Art. He also designed textiles and worked in commercial graphics (our family claim to fame is that my grandad redesigned the ‘g’ on the Carlsberg logo because he spotted that it wasn’t typographically correct!). 

This painting (below), which hangs in my kitchen, is a study for a lino cut. Grandad was renowned for his printmaking, with some lino cuts featuring upwards of 30 colours. He was also a great typographer, graphic designer and photographer. Several of his prints are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum (some viewable here) in London and many remain with the family.
R. F. Holmes: Plaice, early 1950s (watercolour)
Granny and Grandad both studied at the Royal College of Art and were evacuated with the college from London to the Lakes during the Second World War. They and their fellow students caused quite a storm when they arrived in rural Ambleside! Both were involved in the post-war British arts scene – I really look up to them for their style and just wish I’d had the chance to meet them!

Closely linked to my grandparents is Eric Taylor. He was my Dad’s godfather and a close friend of my grandad. I had the pleasure of meeting Eric, who died age 90 in 1999. I remember him as a very elderly man; I remember his house which was full of fascinating objects. I also went to a retrospective of his work in a Hull art gallery (I think it was Hull!). At the time of first meeting him I don’t think I knew anything of his war background; I just remember looking at the ceramic fish and wrought iron sculptures around his home and thinking he seemed a real character.

Eric was an established painter and printmaker (like my grandad) who studied at the Royal College of Art and Central College of Art (now Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design). 

During the war he served with the Army and took part in the Normandy landings. 

Doctors Attending a Wounded Soldier in a Shattered Building behind the Rhine : Immediately after the crossing, (by Eric Taylor, 1945; Imperial War Museum) 

Eric was among the first of the Allies to arrive at Belsen Concentration Camp. Although not an official war artist, he used to his skills to document the horrors of the camps. I will never forget during my art A-Level finding one of his holocaust paintings in a book while I myself worked on a project about war. I don’t think I knew anything of his experiences so it was quite a shock to me.


As Eric himself put it: “I drew the dead and scarcely living people when Belsen concentration camp was overrun, and I witnessed at first hand all the other appalling horrors of war. To me, any attempt to explain in words the overall influence of this experience on my work appears to weaken what I endeavour to say in my painting or sculpture. It means so very much.”

A Young Boy from Belsen Concentration Camp (by Eric Taylor, 1945; Imperial War Museum)

This painting needs no explanation; there are many much more harrowing pieces by Eric (many of which are held at the Imperial War Museum London and viewable over two pages via this link) which I won’t post here but needless to say I truly admire this man’s work and life – to be able to capture all of that horror and emotion in such simple line and form is a true talent and I hope you guys don’t mind me sharing it with you.


Granny and Grandad’s daughter, my aunt aunt Christine, is now based in Napier, New Zealand. With a background in textile and graphic design, Christine has excelled in ceramics, textile arts, silk painting and wearable art. She’s now a Community Arts Manager and works with Creative Napier to organise festivals and events like town-wide yarn-bombing. This photo (taken from a book, sorry for the quality!) shows one of her creations for the World of WearableArt (WOW)

Fantale (by Christine Heaney)


My sister, Steph, is a busy mum of two who still manages to find the time to paint beautiful pieces like this stunning canvas (which is in my bedroom). Now based in the Yorkshire Dales, she studied art at degree level and has had a solo exhibition at a National Trust property. Now her girls are at school, she’s set up her own business page to sell her paintings, which include botanical pieces like this, gouache works and 3D mixed media canvases.

Lillies (by Stephanie Owen-Standford)

Clever ‘eh? Once she lets me know what her brand new FB page is called, you guys will be the first to know!
I’m very proud of my big sis 🙂

3 thoughts on “My wonderful, creative, inspiring family

  1. shirley Bork says:

    It was wonderful to read this as I was looking for info about Eric Taylor and found it by chance. My husband Olav Bork taught with your grandparents at Leeds College where I was a student.
    .I will never forget him giving me the awful news of the accident. What a shock it was and not the only people we knew who were killed on that dreadful hill. Our next door neighbour’s son
    (when we lived in Ilkley) was killed there too. Olav was at Leeds for some years before we came to Belfast where he was head of the Art college. We are still in touch with Eric’s son Jan. who taught there with his wife. They live nearby. I ‘m just putting away the Christmas decorations and somewhere in the box of cards kept from friends who made their own I must have one of Ron’s.
    If I find it I’ll let you have a print. All best wishes

    • holmesmadepapercuts says:

      Hi Shirley
      Thank you so much for your comments, how fascinating and it’s always good to get an insight into my past. I passed your message to my dad who said “I remember Olav Bork; a tall, fair-haired chap.”
      That’s wonderful you are still in touch with Jan, please send him my family’s regards.
      Wishing you all the very best and thank you again for getting in contact.

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