Brain Holmes – Artist (1933 – 2009)
He was born in Lancashire and raised in Ripponden, near Halifax in West Yorkshire. After completing his secondary education, he studied at Huddersfield School of Art and in 1959 studied a diploma in Fine Art at The Slade School in London.
Upon graduation in 1959 he moved to the Midlands and became an Art teacher, specilising in both etching and painting. In 1964 he returned to education to study an Art Teachers Diploma in Leeds and was appointed a lecture, rising to a senior lecturer at Leeds College of Education which later merged at Leeds Polytechnic.
During his working career he exhibited abroad and across the United Kingdom in London, the Midlands, and the North of England. His style followed the traditions of the New English Club which ethos is that work should be:
‘informed by the visual world and personal interpretation; and underpinned by drawing’.
The New English Art Club
Brain drew upon his world and his surroundings and it is not surprising for him to choose the Pennies, so close to his roots as a subject matter alongside still-lifes and nudes.
After retiring from Lecturing, he began to pursue larger scaled pieces of works and due to his skill and reputation gained several prolific, large sale commissions, including three painting for Northern School of Contemporary Dance, where he was also unofficially their Artist in resident in 1987. In 1989 he was commissioned to paint four large panels for the University of Leeds depicting the history the medical school. Within a year of its opening in 1997, The Thackery Medical Museum commissioned him to illustrate and paint the history of the surgical instrument manufacturer.
As mentioned earlier, drawing underpinned his style and he develop a reductive painting style to depict subtle scenes, emotions, and narratives which at times verged on a humorous. This ‘personal style’ developed from studying and painting a four year old girl and it became synonymous with him in its childlike simplicity.
“for an adult to simply copy child art would be pointless. Children do it much better. In my paintings I try to use this elusive quality (of simplicity) as a vehicle for social comment, plus a modicum of humour”.