Holden was born in Manchester and educated at Wilmslow Modern School followed by Reaseheath School of Agriculture, where he studied agriculture and veterinary science. In 1944, Holden met David Bomberg at the City Literary Institute in London. In 1945, he and other artists including Dorothy Mead followed Bomberg to Borough Polytechnic. There in 1946, Holden, along with other Bomberg pupils, among them Miles Richmond, founded the Borough Group. The purpose of the group was to develop Bomberg’s philosophy and he continued to be the leading light of the movement while continuing to teach at Borough Polytechnic during the 1940s and 1950s. At Bomberg’s suggestion, Holden became the first president of the group during 1946–48, after which Bomberg himself became president and the group expanded to 11 members until it’s demise in 1951. Holden met the Swedish artist Torsten Renquist and from 1956, he lived and exhibited in Sweden where his work is held in public collections.
Holden is a member of the London Group and a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers and the Free Painters and Sculptors. He is also a design associate of the American Institute of Interior Designers. He received an honorary doctorate from London South Bank University in 2006.
His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Arts Council, Manchester City Art Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum amongst many others.
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