Biography: Born in Skipton, Yorkshire, Kenneth Holmes was educated at the Erymsteds Boys’ Grammar School, Skipton to 1919. This was followed by two years at the Skipton School of Art, 1919-21, and a further two years at the Leeds College of Art, 1921-23. From there he went to the Royal College of Art, London, studying there from 1923-27 and taking additional courses at both the Chelsea School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design. He graduated from the Royal College in 1927. Following the Royal College Holmes studied abroad and practiced his art both in England and in Europe for two years, mainly in Italy, but also in France and Holland
In 1934 Holmes became Principal of the Leicester College of Art and quickly became a leading figure both locally and nationally in promoting innovative approaches to the teaching of art and design in schools at all levels. His experience in this area was summarized in his joint book of 1952, co-authored with Hugh Collinson (1909 – 2009). His very considerable achievements were recognized nationally with the award of an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).
He worked in several media: above all in etching, though also in wood engraving, line engraving, aquatint, mezzotint, drawing and watercolor, the subjects being mainly landscapes, townscapes and architecture, with Italy and England as particular favorites. During his 1927-28 period studying in Italy he was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome for his drypoint etching The Flight into Egypt. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, and in an exhibition of War Artists held in the National Gallery, London.
He also travelled widely abroad, most notably in the United States, where his watercolors, drawings and etchings, especially of American subjects, including the Niagara Falls and the deserts of Utah, are particularly sought after and appreciated. Holmes retired after 22 years as Principal of the Leicester College of Art in 1956, and after moving to Cornwall where he continued to practice and exhibit as an artist. He died in Camelford, Cornwall, in September 1994.