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Paying Tribute to Two Amazing Talents in Glass

The Design-Nation team were sad to hear of the death of glass artist Catherine Mahé in September 2023. Catherine’s work was vibrant and distinctive, her love of strong colour and contrasts always shining through in her exclusive use of the premium material Bullseye glass. She joined the Design-Nation network in early 2020 and was also active with the Contemporary Glass Society, showing in their 25th anniversary show last year.

Catherine moved to the UK from her native France as a newly qualified teacher thirty years ago and spent time in Wales and Ireland before settling in greater Manchester. A love of mosaics led her to glass fusing, and she developed her ranges of strongly patterned glass vessels. These enjoyed considerable success and over the years she has shown her dazzling work across the UK at many fairs and exhibitions, including at The Hub.

Earlier in March 2023 we also heard of the sad death of Kathryn Holford, a founder member of Design-Nation in 1999, and also a practitioner with extensive experience in glass. Kathryn previously traded as Katy Holford and was a very accomplished artist, sculptor and designer of glass and other homeware with an amazing CV. She was awarded Rosenthal Young Designer of the Year Award in 1988, later studying at the RCA, before developing a career that encompassed work for household names and luxury brands including Wedgwood, Atlantis Crystal, Sainsburys & Perrier Jouet. As well as glass Katy won awards for her design work in ceramic and pewter, and her bespoke designs included mirrors, lighting and furniture.

In 2004 Katy was the inaugural winner of our Eureka initiative sponsored by Laurent-Perrier. Later Katy became creative director at Cumbria Crystal, overseeing a busy working studio while still creating sensitive and beautiful designs for products in glass. In 2018, as Kathryn, she stepped away from the bustle of commercial design, to focus on her own creative practice. She was a skilful painter, working from her holiday house in France and at home in Cambridgeshire, capturing nature and regularly exhibiting her work.

Kathryn became an Honorary member of Design-Nation in 2016, in recognition of not only her considerable contribution to our sector as a designer, but also her willingness to share the lessons, highs and occasional lows of her career to support others.

The world of craft and design has lost two exceptional talents. Our thoughts are with Kathryn’s partner Mark, Catherine’s partner Rob, and their families and friends.

Images copyright the estates of the respective artists

On Blog index page: Bottles designed by Katy Holford for Cumbria Crystal on display at Fortnum & Mason during London Craft Week 2015.

On carousel: Catherine Mahé portrait courtesy Hannah Gibson, vessel by Catherine Mahé, Catherine in her studio (also courtesy Hannah Gibson), portrait of Katy Holford by Barbara Chandler (2014), Katy Holford for Cumbria Crystal (as above), study in oils of cherry blossom by Kathryn Holford (2022).

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Liz Cooper


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