Last December St. Mary’s Cratfield became the latest victim in the spate of lead thefts from church roofs when thieves stripped four tons of lead from the north aisle and the vestry. When the theft was discovered volunteers from the village struggled with sheets of plastic in gale force winds to provide some protection against the rain. Since then the battle with the weather has continued.
Public revulsion at these crimes mounted as the total of churches robbed reached forty four in East Anglia alone, but the good news is that, as a result of the EADT publicity campaign and cross-border police initiatives, there are signs of progress in tracking down the culprits. That is hugely welcome, but for the villagers of Cratfield the problem remains of raising the money to restore the roof and carry out the repairs.
The target is £35,000 and there has been a wonderful response to our appeal. However, we still have a little way to go and one of the events planned to help close the final gap is an exhibition 0f the wood engravings of Linda Holmes.
Linda Holmes, who died last year, had a strong connection with Cratfield Church. It was with her husband, David, that she initiated the series of chamber music concerts that have been held every summer at Cratfield church for the last 26 years.
Before Linda Holmes became well a respected printmaker she had been a broadcaster at the BBC where she met her future husband David who at the time was the Political Editor for the organisation.
In 1989 Linda changed direction and attended Camberwell School of Art to study wood engraving under Simon Brett and Yvonne Skargon. It was not long after her training that Linda started to build a reputation as printmaker of rare quality, exhibiting in Europe and the USA.
It was in 2007 that Linda decided to broaden her range of expression to include oil painting. She attended classes with portrait painter, Jack Stephenson at his studio in Theberton. Her wood engraving experience and innate artistic ability allowed her to make swift progress. Sadly, her untimely death last year cut short a promising career as a painter. She was 65.
Her tutor and friend, Jack Stephenson, has put together an exhibition of her wood engravings that will take place at the Ephemeral Gallery from the 23rd April to the 30th April. It would have pleased Linda that the proceeds form sales will contribute to the repair of the roof of a church that was so close to her heart.