Lectures and articles by Kenneth Holmes

Scope and Content

Speeches, talks, addresses, reviews, and articles for magazines and journals by Kenneth Holmes, Principal of the Leicester School of Art. The texts are typescript with manuscript annotations. These are not the originals but photocopies.

The subjects of the texts are varied, and include:

  • updates on recent changes or developments at the College of Art
  • policies followed by the College of Art
  • the training of artists, designers and craftsmen for industry and commerce
  • the connection between technical education and art education
  • the history and development of art education
  • the status of arts schools and their place in the community
  • arts and crafts teaching in schools
  • the effect of the Second World War on the College and the contribution of art education to the war effort
  • art as a career
  • the recruitment of textile designers
  • training for commercial art
  • the study of corsetry
  • the decoration of buildings
  • comment on contemporary design including silverware, tableware, packaging, bookbinding and underwear
  • the Design Committee of BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation)
  • industrial design and arts teaching in America
  • the embroidery of Rebecca Crompton
  • the Sylvia pattern papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kenneth Holmes was born in 1902 in Skipton, Yorkshire. He attended the Skipton School of Art, Leeds College of Art, and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1927 with the Art Masters' Certificate, ARCA in Design, ARCA in Engraving, and a Teaching and School Management Certificate. Post qualification he spent some time travelling in Europe, winning the Prix de Rome in 1927 while visiting Italy.

On returning to England Holmes became a teacher of art at colleges in Croydon and Southwark, before moving to a post as Principal of Huddersfield Technical College from 1932 to 1934. In September 1934, aged only 32, he was appointed Principal of Leicester College of Art. During his time at the College Holmes fostered links with local and national businesses, attracting those at the forefront of contemporary design and manufacture. He developed innovative approaches to the teaching of art and design, and emphasised the importance of art in schools. In 1952 he co-authored a book on this subject with his colleague Hugh Collinson: Child Art Grows Up.

Holmes was a significant artist in his own right, specialising in etching but also experimenting with wood and line engraving, aquatint, mezzotint, drawing and watercolour. He had sixteen one-man shows in London and eleven works shown at the Royal Academy annual exhibition; as well as contributing to Leicester art shows.

After 22 years of service Holmes retired in 1956 and moved to Cornwall to continue practicing his art. He died in September 1994 aged 92. A Hall of Residence at De Montfort University is named in his honour.

Access Information

Open and available for general access. External researchers are advised to make an appointment with the Archivist.

Acquisition Information

These photocopies appear to have been collated by Lys de Beaumont as background research for her MPhil on "The History of Leicester School of Art, 1869-1939."


The biography of Kenneth Holmes is drawn from the website of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Katharine Short, Archivist, April 2013.

Related Material

Those interested in Kenneth Holmes as Principal of the College of Art should consult the committee minutes and press cuttings books.

The MPhil dissertation "The History of Leicester School of Art, 1869-1939" can be consulted at the Archive.

Location of Originals

At this time, the whereabouts of the original texts is unknown.