Q So who is Kate Anderson?
I was born in London. After a foundation year at Hammersmith College of Art I completed a three year B.A. course within the School of Painting at Maidstone College of Art and Design, graduating with a 1st Class Honours degree. A few years later, having worked as an Art Instructor at a Grammar School and various other jobs to earn a living, I was awarded a Post-Graduate Commonwealth Fellowship in Sculpture to India which was taken up at the University of Viswa Bharati, West Bengal. My artistic background lies in painting and sculpture, the interest in modern mosaic came much later, and it evolved in some ways from both these disciplines.
Q Where in the world are you?
I now live in rural Dumfries and Galloway in South-West Scotland. I work from my studio near Kirkcudbright, as well as still teaching some courses in painting and mosaic at colleges and centres in Scotland, Cumbria and elsewhere when time allows.
There has never been that conscious decision, and although the techniques that I use are quite distinct in some ways, they are very much part of the wider way I have lived my life. The route ideas and recurring themes are integral to my other activities whether written, painted, or constructed. I have never differentiated between Fine Art and Craft, because for me, personally, that would be negative. I can’t remember a time since early childhood when I haven’t been exploring these elements and combining them in various ways. I am unhappy with categories in general. I think with experience you gain the integrity to draw the boundaries where they need to go.
I had been teaching painting and drawing courses at colleges in Oxfordshire and was asked if I would also run a mosaic course. In the past I had worked on large 3-Dimensional work which had sometimes used mosaic techniques, so I agreed. The appeal of using materials like vitreous glass, ceramic and smalti began to grow. It took a lot of experimentation to adapt these and other mosaic materials so that they worked in a way that suited my objectives. I have never been interested in the purist approach to Mosaic that is trying to produce something like the Romans or making purely decorative pieces. I needed to adapt a wide variety of base materials to make the kind of mosaic that was distinct as my own.
I use hand-painted ceramic when I want a painterly approach to surface and texture. I also combine the traditional, perhaps stone or gold leaf, with the more unexpected such as resins in some three-dimensional work.
I’ve got a fairly wide base of materials that I use already; it’s more a case of finding further interesting combinations when the need arises.
Q Where do you get your inspiration from?
History, myth, the written word. I am fascinated by the language of symbols and how we use (and abuse) them. Visually, I have always been absorbed with Shadow Art from the earliest cave paintings to Shadow Play, Goethe and the European illustrative influence.
Travel when it occurs is inspiring. Somehow the mind starts spinning to a different rhythm and ideas and memories get recycled in vibrant way.
The need to re-organise my experiences and give them concrete expression. Modern life is highly confusing. So much is trivial and wasteful. Works are small testimonies to what I think and feel, I am a fairly private person who needs to communicate, and I love the selective, fining and perfecting processes that happen gradually on larger undertakings in whatever medium it is I tackle. Imagination is crucial to all my work. Like travelling the processes allow you to move down new paths of discovery.
Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?
I work from my studio in the grounds of my house unless I need to work in situ elsewhere.
Q How do you sell and promote your work?
Some of my smaller work is shown in galleries locally and further afield. The nearest is the Scottish Showcase Gallery in nearby Kirkcudbright. Regionally I am one of the artists who exhibit annually in the Spring Fling Open Studio Event. This is Scotland’s largest and most popular studio visiting scheme, and provides artists and makers with good promotional support. I have shown work in exhibitions in England, Scotland, France, and America amongst other countries, and various websites such as Axis and Craftscotland add to my own in further promoting my work.
Most of my income is from commissions of various kinds. Last year one was from Sulwath Connections here in Galloway. Often they are private individuals. A collaborative mosaic that I made with equine artist Peter Howell sold to an American collector at the Saratoga Arts Festival two years ago, this being an unusual venue for my work. My solo exhibitions are usually theme based and take several years to build up. I am a member of BAMM, (British Association of Modern Mosaic), and I exhibit in some of their shows.
Q What is your working style?
Definitely lateral! I like to approach large pieces of work from a wide angle and slowly move in. Where quite a challenging idea is involved I need to treat it like an excavation, gradually honing in on the most important components. My sketches for mosaic work are all about direction, the way the pieces will ‘move’ visually, and if there are multiple panels how the colour, lines and reflective elements relate to each other. I like the research involved in literary based pieces, but I also work in the semi- abstract which needs intuitive judgement.
To be: TRUE TO YOURSELF!
Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?
No one favourite, artists too numerous to mention but including Bruegel, Samuel Palmer, Gaudi, Herge, Mervyn Peake, Anselm Kiefer, Desmond Kinney, Dale Chihuly and the work at the Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery in Glasgow………the anonymous builders of ancient British sites and Early Gothic Architecture.
Q What music do you listen to?
An eclectic mix! Brahms, Ghulam Ali, Spanish Sephardic music, Ry Cooder, Arvo Part, some old Rock, Kurt Weil songs to name but a few.
Q 3 likes and dislikes?
Likes: Cats. Green. Reading.
Dislikes: Celebrity culture, pillar-box red, the expression: At the end of the Day!
Q What do you do to relax?
Saratoga Collaboration with Peter Howell
All Images & work copyright Kate Anderson, the Saratoga image is also jointly copyright of Peter Howell. Photography by Euan Adamson.