Blind Harrogate artist Holly shines in debut exhibition

Blind artist Holly Holder.
Blind artist Holly Holder.

Most people would be unable to tell inspirational Harrogate artist Holly Holder is blind - and certainly not if they actually saw her work.

The public will get their first chance to see her work in this remarkable woman’s debut solo exhibition which starts tomorrow, Friday at Art in the Mill gallery in Knaresborough.

Out of the Dark is an atmospheric collection landscapes created in watercolour, gouache and oil which gallery owner Elaine Grinter is keen to bring to a wider audience.

She said: “For me Holly’s paintings carry an unambiguous poignancy. There’s a real sense of desire to commit memories to paper and to understand the relevance of things we take for granted.”

Rather than Holly’s artistic talents being diminished by her condition, they actually grew out of it.

Taking up painting was this inspirational mum-of-two’s way of coping with her deteriorating vision after being diagnosed as suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

Her lack of vision meant she was forced to give up a highly successful career as a top make-up artist in TV and films, working with the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons and on shows such as EastEnders, The Village, Only Fools and Horses, and Band of Brothers to name but a few.

Not that Holly's condition is immediately apparent if you visit her studio at Conyngham Hall.

The only visible sign that Holly is blind can be seen in her actual paints.

Each tube has a recorded audio label and when she points a talking pen in the right direction the name of the colour is vocalised.

Holly said: “I’m really looking forward to my first exhibition. It’s been a huge challenge to re-launch my career and get all my work ready. At times it’s been scary, pushing myself into the unknown, but it has been so invigorating and returned a sense of normality to my life.

“The enjoyment and freedom I get from painting is fantastic. Not only am I really proud of the paintings I’m creating it’s a great mood lifter too and I draw real energy from the waterside surroundings of my Conyngham Hall studio.”

Art fans can talk to the artist herself this Saturday at Art in the Mill between 2pm and 4pm.

She will donate 10 per cent of all sales to RP Fighting Blindness, which supports medical research into Retinitis Pigmentosa to help find treatments or cures for the condition and provide information and support for people affected.

Holly Holder - Out of the Dark runs at Blue Skies gallery in Art in the Mill, Knaresborough until November 25.