Exhibitions | 23-01-2024

Upcoming exhibition celebrates Kathryn M Holford

In March 2024 the life and work of leading glass designer and artist Kathryn M Holford (1962-2023) will be highlighted in an exhibition at Fen Ditton Gallery, Cambridge, where she was born.

The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Kathryn’s husband Mark Rowden, and will showcase some of Kathryn’s most significant works in glass and paint, including a rare re-issue of a limited-edition vase made in collaboration with master glassmaker Bob Crooks, with whom Kathryn worked with on many of her designs.

Kathryn was an accomplished artist, sculptor and award-winning international designer. Born on 7 June 1962, in Fen Ditton, Cambridge, her artistic journey began under the alias Katy Holford. Accepted to the Royal College of Art, she demonstrated exceptional talent, earning recognition early in her career and awarded the Rosenthal Young Designer of the Year Award in 1988.

Kathryn etched her name among renowned brands, contributing her skills to household names and luxury brands like Wedgwood, Atlantis Crystal and Perrier Jouet. Her bespoke pieces and sculptures grace the rooms of The Savoy, Claridge’s and Malmaison Hotels, as well as Royal Palaces and private residences globally. They have also appeared in numerous television shows and films, including Cumbria Crystal designs in James Bond and Downton Abbey.

In 2004, Kathryn embraced a new challenge by winning the Eureka initiative sponsored by Laurent-Perrier. Subsequently, she took on the role of CEO and Creative Director at Cumbria Crystal, where she oversaw a bustling studio and continued to create beautiful designs in glass. Her dedication and innovative approach earned her accolades and awards, solidifying her legacy in the design world.

During Kathryn’s years of glass design, she worked with one of the UK’s most established glassmakers, Bob Crooks. Bob has a cast designed by Kathryn in his studio and enough of her materials to make a limited edition of 10 vases, which will be available exclusively at the exhibition.

Kathryn’s artistic journey reached a turning point in 2016 when, upon moving to Normandy with Mark, she decided to step away from the pressures of the commercial design world. In her diary she wrote: ‘I discovered the latent desire to paint… The desire had been pushed down so deep when I was very young that it took some 50-odd years of life, therapy, and a need for a life change to surface… Being a beginner again was hard. I had been at the top of my profession just a few months before. My ego was in outrage. However, what I loved the intimacy of painting. It is just me and the canvas. No clients, marketeers, factories, and workshops to get in between me and my creative process.’

Fen Ditton Gallery manager, Hannah Munby commented, “It feels very poignant to be celebrating Kathryn’s life with this exhibition here at Fen Ditton Gallery, not only because it is remarkably in the village where Kathryn was born and spent her first years, but also because she and Mark were regular visitors and supporters of the gallery before she passed away. Kathryn was always enthusiastic about the work we did here, so it feels right to honour her with this show, back in the village where it all began for her.”

Fen Ditton Gallery (est. 2018) is a contemporary art gallery on the outskirts of Cambridge, run by mother and daughter duo, Lotte Attwood and Hannah Munby, with curatorial and programme advice from independent curator Amanda Game.

The exhibition is on from 9 March to 1 April 2024 at Fen Ditton Gallery, 23 High Street, Fen Ditton, Cambridge CB5 8ST, UK. https://www.fendittongallery.com

Image: Kathryn M Holford working with Bob Crooks. Photo: Mark Rowden.

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