David Holmes: A Brush with the Music of Time

David Holmes’ book, A Brush with the Music of Time, about his life as an art student, advertising junior, art director, creative director, designer, ad agency proprietor, painter and illustrator is bursting with luscious images. And if you want to have a feel for the London version of ‘Madmen’ in the 1950s – 1970s, there are photographs and clippings galore.

This original, quirky publication has just won the prestigious first prize in the British Book Design and Production Awards, and comes with its own beautiful cardboard sleeve and smart bag. The quirkiness reflects the author, who has a large collection of battered straw hats, learned to play the bagpipes from an Indian lady in Singapore when he was in his sixties and cultivates an exquisite Japanese garden outside the studio he has owned in Primrose Hill for over thirty years. Lots of photographs in the book illustrate his fondness for dressing up.

I like using watercolour – it’s adventurous: a tussle between water, paper, pigment and one’s own derring-do.

Yet the book also pays homage to the many people with whom David has worked – indeed, the frontispiece and end pages consist of an alphabetical list of hundreds of names, a roll call of creatives over fifty years.


Some pages will be familiar to us locals: he designed the cover for the publication Primrose Hill Remembered, and the older among us will recognise his advertising campaigns – ‘You can take a white horse anywhere’, for example.

David also designed the Christmas stamps in 2015 and appeared in On The Hill to talk about the process. The book is also full of colourful, fluent watercolours of animals, flowers and landscapes.

David is tidying up his studio and has a folder for ‘browsing’ with small examples of his work, reasonably priced, which would make great presents. Email him to have a look, with no obligation davidcecilholmes@gmail.com


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