Kate’s earliest memories of making things and being creative stem back to her childhood weekends and school holidays which were spent at the kitchen table cutting out and sticking, usually peg dolls and paper maché objects. Inspiration would come from the boxes and tins of fabric, lace, buttons and beads which her mum had collected for her intricate, miniature collage portraits. She would pile it all high on the table for Kate to delve into.
Both Kate’s parents, being artists, had a huge influence on her and played an important part in her creative development. Holidays and days out were usually geared around her Dad finding the perfect spot to paint or to take photographs for future work. Whether it was on Dartmoor, camping in Cornwall or Provence, southern France, she was constantly exposed to beautiful, inspiring scenery. The family saying “Look at the view” has remained with her to this day, as everyone was always encouraged to do so.
Kate’s early fascinating with textiles, colours and fabrics has continued into her adult life and the magpie approach to collecting materials is paramount to her current way of working as a collage artist.
Kate’s usual working day starts with an early, head-clearing walk with her Jack Russell, Roddy in the woods and fields nearby. During such walks she constantly scours the ground for new materials or “ingredients” to go into her collages – leaves, bark, feathers and lichen all make their way home in a bag to be placed in a number of boxes to be used later. The leaves need to be dried out first, so these go into large hand-made flower presses that are then placed in an airing cupboard for up to a month. She works for a maximum of 6 hours a day in her studio-cum-shed in the back garden. The detail in her collages is so fine and the application of every single piece of material is very time-consuming, so any longer and her eyes become strained from the intense concentration.
To create such believable, intricate landscapes and seascapes out of just some of the ingredients mentioned, every single piece is studied first, before its application. For example, a part of a leaf may already have the right texture and shape for a cliff, so she’ll carefully cut it out and build up the layers. The colours and textures are already in the materials. In one picture alone there are over 1000 pieces that complete the collage, all hand cut, torn, frayed and burnt to create an image executed with great dexterity and precision.
Kate’s collages appear to be painted or they give that illusion from a distance. But it’s not until you get closer that you realise what they’re made from. She likes the element of surprise. It draws you in, and the more you look, the more you see.