Sex Magic at Arusha Gallery February 5th 2024

I’m so delighted to announce that three of my paintings will be at the launch of Dr Amy Hale’s new book Sex Magic at Arusha Gallery from 6.30 pm on February 5th, in London.
Please see my Instagram feed for more info… there will also be an event in Penzance in mid Feb at The Admiral Benbow pub in Chapel Street…

Solstice workshops and workshops for next year…2024

This mid-winter I’ll be working in the beautiful spacious Anchor Studio in Newlyn. It’s part of the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust, and is one of the original artist’s bespoke studios in Newlyn. I’ll be making work in there for three months, towards my solo show at Arusha gallery in London next May.

I’m planning to hold 2 Solstice workshops in the studio; during the two-day one we’ll visit the nearby wild landscape – weather permitting…! We will share cars: it’s a ten minute drive to Boscawen-un Stone Circle. If the weather is fine we might venture slightly further afield to a beautiful wild place and site of hidden stones near Carn Kenidjack. We will walk shamanically and tune into and draw the energy of the wild landscape and ancient stones.

I’ll give a short talk on my paintings and drawings in progress – with Q & A – and I’ll have some archive works (mostly on paper, some framed) available to buy at studio prices.

Two-day workshop: Dec 20th 10.00 – 19.00 and Dec 21st 10.00 – 17.00.

We’ll make shamanic journeys in a ceremonial way to ask for guidance in this time of inwardness, dark light, and change. We’ll draw, paint, release, write, make an intention, dance (if you wish!) and share food. We’ll mark the Solstice together.

The fee for the two-day workshop is £225 to include most art materials (bring your favourite ones if you prefer) and all teaching.

The two day workshop is now full…but places are available on the one-day workshop…details are below…
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For those who’d prefer one day, I’m going to offer a one-day workshop on the 22nd December, from 11.00 – 19.00.

This will take place in the studio and surrounding gardens, and will be similar to the longer workshop in feel but with slightly fewer activities (and my talk will be shorter!). The workshop fee for the one-day gathering is £120.

I hope to see you soon and to share this time with you. Please let me know if you’d like to come and I’ll add you to the group…and let you know what you’d need to bring…

It would be great if more men joined my circles and workshops. They always bring a different energy, humour and warmth to the groups – which I like. If you know someone who might enjoy this work, please share this infomration with them. Thank you.

There is no parking at Anchor studio, but in nearby streets; the access is up a few steps…

If you would like to see my works in progress and archive works without attending the workshop that would be possible – by appointment – on the 18th and 19th December.

Workshops for 2024:

2024. I will run four or five workshops in 2024. Two or three will be held at The School of Art and Wellbeing in Devon https://artandwellbeing.co.uk/ , and one or two will be held in Cornwall, probably near Helston. The dates are below. If you are interested in attending, please let me know, as I expect them to book up quite quickly. The prices indicated include all teaching, equipment and most materials (I find some people like to bring their own, and their own sketchbooks). Some bursaries are available. Accommodation is booked separately with each venue.I am beginning to plan these workshops, and themes arising are:

Holy animals: 12 – 15th April (four days) beginning from the teaching which says that highly evolved Beings sometimes incarnate in animals’ or birds’ bodies, we will move strongly into the imaginary world of the Animal and the Bird. We’ll look at symbolism and cave paintings/carvings in Neolithic artefacts from across the globe, referencing John Berger’s thoughts on these, as well as shamanic verses and teachers; make shamanic journeys to Power animals and helpers, asking for assistance for specific personal tasks; we will consider the natural, protective, illuminating and ceremonial aspects of the Horse, Bird, Wolf, Snake and Big Cat (amongst others), working with drawing, paint, words, colour, movement and sound to bring ourselves closer to the worlds these powerful beings inhabit: all to help us in our day to day lives and to help those around us to navigate the fast-changing world. We will send attention to species loss too and consider practical steps we could take to reverse their decline. This course will be held in Devon at the School of Art and Well-being near Honiton. £450

Body as Prophet/ess: June 1-3rd.
A three-day course working with bodily knowing, responding to themes you will bring, which might be unresolved events or relationships, or unfulfilled desires, creativity etc. We will ask animal guides and helpers and the world of spirit to give us insights to weights we are carrying energetically/physically/psychically which tend to drain energy and prevent us seeing our way through. In addition, resolution of weighty issues frees energy enabling other activities such as our creativity, development -personally and or professionally – to move forwards more dynamically. We will work with blessing ceremonies to help and soothe each other, and we will ask our bodies to soften and receive in the safe space we will create together. This course will be held in Devon. £350.

The Book as a body of Love October 19-22nd 2024: a course where you will embellish a found/old/recycled book with words, images, collage. I will supply some vintage/found/hand-made books from which you will choose one or two and you will respond to the imagery and/or words/music notation already contained within the book -or write, draw your own material – to make something new, highly personal, a one-off, a new life for a treasured or found book. I will bring some children’s books too for those who wish to focus on their inner child. You can also bring your own book or books, or indeed make one/more from scratch … I will bring some book-binding equipment…we will also work on loose pages with collage/exquisite corpses (surrealist techniques). Art movements/artists/writers referenced will be surrealism, dada, french symbolist poetry, Arte Povera, Joseph Beuys, Helen Cixous, Carol Rama and Ithell Colquhoun. This course will be held in Devon.£475 to include books I have sourced…two or three each…

The Mysteries of Creativity from shamanic and psychoanalytic perspectives. 13-16th September 2024
For artists, poets and writers who wish to go deep into their own process, and the hidden areas of our psyche – and the wider imaginal worlds – from where some of our best, most illuminating images and ideas arise. We will make shamanic journeys, looking at our intentions from the place of the will, the mind and the heart; we will enlist the support and guidance of our spirit guides to cast light on our true creative voices and paths. If spirit guides are unknown we will make shamanic journeys to find them. We will also look at the role of dreams and dreaming in our work and lives, and how we can make connections (and with what) between the numinous and subtle worlds, and the physical world where we manifest imagery and forms. Writers and thinkers we will look at as part of the course include James Hillman, Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Joan Halifax, Henry Corbin, Joseph Campbell, John Berger, Amy Hale, Marie-Louise von Franz, Helen Frankenthaler, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Maria Lassnig, Hilma af Klint, Joseph Beuys, Philip Rawson; and traditions from other continents, e.g Tantric art and Aboriginal images/traditions.
This course will be held in Cornwall at Coskewis near Helston.



The Wild in Us: working with the shamanic journey, dreams, our innate creativity, poetry, music and dance to explore symbols, feelings and embodied knowing about the wild world which we are part of… for example trees, plants, animals, birds, rocks, the sea, the air, the earth, metals, planets. We will ask for ways in which we can be closely connected with the wild within ourselves, and in the natural world. I hope to run this course in Cornwall.

All workshops begin on the first day at 11am and finish on the last day at 5pm. I always bring a carefully chosen selection of books from my library which all participants are free to peruse and study for the duration of the course.


All workshops are for women and men: painters, students, writers, thinkers, ecologists, poets, activists….
Full guidance to all shamanic techniques will be given. You will be very welcome if you have never done this work before!
Most art materials will be provided, but please bring your own sketchbooks (I find people like to choose their own size and format). You can book accommodation (including camping and shepherd’s huts) through the School website. All the courses include refreshments throughout the day. We bring and cook/share our own lunches and dinners; there is a spacious kitchen in The Pavilion for us to use.

Drumming in the yurt, Devon.

Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize exhibition

I’m so delighted to be able to post that three of my entries to the TBWDP were selected last week by three judges whose opinion I value greatly:

Laura Hoptman, Barbara Walker and Dennis Scholl
@lhoptman @schollcreative @barbarawalkerstudio

and thanks to:
@parkerharrisco @anitataylor_ @trinitybuoywharf

The works selected are three music books I’ve drawn into, with some hand-written words by me and Joseph Suart.
The exhibition will open on September 27th, in London. It will then tour the UK for nine months. Details soon, or from Parker Harris or Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Here are some of the pages:

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Here are a few words about my approach to my work, and what happens in my studio…
“I expected to meet an artist and realise that much more than that you are shaman straddling many realities, bringing back to the rest of us in this physicality the multi dimensional experience of your intimate inner life. It’s one thing to understand inner realities as philosophical theory, or even open up to it as personal practice, and quite another to be such a powerful vehicle for its expression. I am full of respect for the task you are set upon, I think it takes a great deal of courage and talent to be so exposed and expressive. Most of us are on a desperate mission to cover it all up!

Reading the feedback from your workshop participants the extent to which you enable them to access the magical and mystical realms is testimony to your own journeying.

Whilst writing this and wondering how to express how I feel about our meeting The Hierophant sprang to mind. In most Tarot readings this represents the Pope as a figure of ultimate spiritual power, (not one I subscribe to obviously) however, if one explores the symbolism further it is really expressing the Divine Masculine in direct relation to the already initiated Divine Feminine of the High Priestess, and in that meaning I can see why it came to mind regarding your journey. It’s the time of the dark Supermoon just now, so a powerful time of dreaming and insights. For all of us, owning our divine feminine and allowing the divine masculine to rise is an enormous challenge, so little basis for trust when we have all felt so utterly betrayed, thank you for being a truly inspiring and courageous leader in that vital struggle.

These were my first thoughts about your work:

“Kate is at the nexus of what it is to be human. Expressing the most powerful elements of our physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and metaphysical realities, an artist, shaman and alchemist.”

Thank you Estelle. Meeting you and Gavin was such a joy!

Home after The Fruitmarket (Edinburgh) and the beginning of The Unspeakable at Studio KIND…

I’m recently returned from a long weekend in Edinburgh where I had a stand at The Artists Book Market at The Fruitmarket Gallery. I also gave a presentation on my work around adapting found books, with a focus on Trauma and what we find Unspeakable.


I spoke about my dream in Venice which led to a big change for me, and which I have drawn many times…
and I also spoke about my publications with Guillemot Press: Iona notebooks and Shetland Notebooks, and how important the residencies in those wild places were for me…
(we are now hatching plans for a new book…)
I had some very interesting encounters at the market, and some sales. The encounters were the most important, and the new people I met and the old friends I re-connected with…
My journey home was eventful with train chaos, but I was at least able to draw into my books on the journey… and then after two days at home catching my breath and packing, I was away again to North Devon, to Braunton and Studio KIND for my solo show in this lovely Arts Council funded artist’s project space.

here are a few of the works in the show, and details of opening times and of my creative, shamanic workshop on the Inner Child to be held on March 18th from 2 – 5 pm…
and here are some more images from the show…
photo by Studio KIND photo by Studio KIND photo by Studio KIND photo by Studio KIND photo by Studio KIND of the collaborative pages made by me and Joseph Suart


Sweetheart. Darling. Tits.
Installation of drawings in watercolour sticks, oil pastels and oak gall ink on River Tomoe paper.
The exhibition continues until March 17th.
Archive boxes of watercolours are available to purchase at very affordable prices.

Essay by Joseph Suart to support The Unspeakable at Studio Kind, Devon. February 2023.

Unspeakable Joseph Suart February 2023
In 2010 the philosopher Giorgio Agamben and the painter Monica Ferrando published a book titled La ragazza indicible. Mito e mistero di Kore. Agamben’s essay in this publication was translated in 2014 by Leland de la Durantaye under the title The Unspeakable Girl: the Myth and Mystery of Kore. In the first footnote of this translation, with reference to the word ‘unspeakable’ the translator points out that ‘neither the Greek term nor the Italian one with which the author translates it possesses the English word’s suggestion of impish or malicious misbehaviour. Given the alternative between the idiomatic unspeakable and the calque unsayable, I deemed the former truer to the original.’
In the 15th footnote, with reference to the word ‘in-fantile’, the translator notes Agamben is using it in its literal meaning – ‘being without speech’ – emphasising that this is not about limiting the description to a pre-verbal child and pointing out this is a theme Agamben explores in other works. In this essay Agamben uses it to describe the state of being that is experienced by the participants in the Eleusinian Mystery rites once they have been confronted with the presence of the gods. This is not to be conflated with the developmental stage of being pre-verbal, nor with that of being struck dumb or rendered speechless. It describes access to a state of being and not a symptomatic reaction to shock or amazement. We are being directed towards a subverting of the hierarchical arrangement of experience whereby feeling is considered primarily as a precursor to thinking, which then employs words to establish a supposedly more developed understanding. So, ordinarily in our culture, experience that can be communicated through words is privileged over direct experience which is thereby reduced to the pre-verbal. These two footnotes point out that Agamben uses these words specifically to present an alternative to this hierarchy. In this work of Agamben’s there is an exploration of what is not captured by the definition of the human as being the speaking animal.
In the third book of his Homer Sacer series, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, Agamben writes about those who were named ‘muselmann’ because of the complete unresponsiveness to which they had been reduced by their utter exhaustion through forced labour and starvation. These people, pushed to the extremity of what could be recognised as human, embody the ‘impossibility of bearing witness to what happened’ (Agamben 1998 p53-54). He quotes Primo Levi’s view that the muselmann was ‘he who had seen the Gorgon’, by which Agamben suggests that the ‘impossibility of vision’ initiated by the gorgon provides the frozen dynamic between that which simultaneously can be neither seen nor looked away from. It is impossible to bear witness to that which remains of the human when all aspects of humanity have been stripped away to the mere state of ‘bare life’. And yet in this condition knowledge of it is simultaneously unavoidable. The muselman is the embodiment of one who can no longer avoid the impossibility of knowing and seeing what is there before him. His state of embodied inhumanity demands the attention of the human and this and only this is testimony. This state is one that would be accurately described as traumatic.
In The Unspeakable Girl Agamben notes that when Jung and Kerenyi published Einfuhrung in das Wesen der Mythologie (The Science of Mythology) in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam they hid its contents under a misleading title. For, far from reinforcing rigid gender stereotypes as the Nazi censor would have required, the contents show that the ‘Myth of the Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis’ are founded upon the inherent archetypal ambiguity of the figure of the ‘Urkind – an originary child’ which is ‘seen […] above all in its androgeny’ (Agamben & Ferrando 2010 p.3). This specific and extensive indeterminacy is repeated in the hermaphroditism of the child archetype and it is this very quality that is shown to be necessary for a progressively redemptive capacity and the ability to supervene conflict.
Ancestral voices calling down the years in and through our culture:

‘Your long golden tongue’, Hermes and Aphrodite coming into one, leaping into and out of the blue under the watchful eye of the horse spirit;

‘She has her stalk he said’, being held one by the other they become, together
Furthermore, Kore, the ‘divine girl’, central figure of the story of Persephone’s abduction and rape by Hades, itself the basis for the Eleusinian Mystery rites for the renewal of life, increases this indeterminacy in a very disturbing fashion. The attribution ‘Kore’ didn’t only apply to Persephone, or young girl, but resists the patriarchal divisions of girl/virgin, (married)woman/mother and crone/grandmother.
Kore: girl, mother and the White haired ones:
‘Conceiving, carrying bearing’
‘Hag’: lost, dissolved, emerging from the brutal blood death/birth

The Greek word, ‘Kore’, derives from a root meaning ‘vital force’ and ‘refers to the principle that makes plants and animals grow’ (Agamben & Ferrando 2010 p 6). The Kore is any untethered girl or woman whose sexuality may be yet budding or budding again and again. It is used to refer as much to any unmarried woman who may be sexually active as to one who has not yet awoken to her sexual life. It is also used in reference to those who are old yet still powerful, ‘children with white hair’ such as the Erinyes.
We have here the story, and the images, of a form of human life that ‘does not allow itself to be “spoken” in so much as it cannot be defined by age, family, sexual identity or social role’ (Agamben & Ferrando 2010 p7). The story was communicated in language only in so much as it is heard as a poem sung from the poetic realm.
The poetic realm is imaginal and it speaks directly from the body to the body.
We read the story of Persephone, Kore, as that of a teenage girl being abducted and raped by her uncle.
‘All the names my father called me’ ‘Tits Bird’
But what if Persephone, daughter of the goddess of fecundity, was overwhelmed by her own burgeoning exuberance and sexuality as it pushed up from inside her like an iris budding in the morning? Pushing up and calling towards the Earth around her with the Sea-breeze and the Sun-warmth. The warming Earth, and the Sun and the Sea, are calling back and drawing the budding upwards and upwards.
She is with friends on the cliffs in the warm Spring sunshine, a gentle sea breeze is ruffling the down on their arms, playing around their ears and their knees as they laugh and bend to smell the flowers, picking them in abundance.
‘Persephone holds the flower’ ‘Persephone, Sunseed’
It is in delight that she is drawn into the face of the flower, kissed into kissing and infiltrated by that irresistible scent; it tickles her nose and slips itself into her, sending a frisson down through her body and out over her skin, spreading and awakening her. What can this be that is stealing over and through her as never before? She doesn’t know what is happening and she can’t stop. Everything is different: the way it looks, the way it feels, the way she feels. Everything is new. Again. Each time she opens her eyes and feels her skin respond. And she is aching for more of it but doesn’t know what it is. This is like it is the very first time. She puts the pomegranate seed in her mouth and nuzzles its sharp flavour with her tongue till it sweetens and creeps down her throat. She is not the one she was before. Everything is gone. No one saw it happen and no one knows where she is. She has disappeared.
‘I love him so’ ‘Lovers’ ‘Making love in every particle’
And with that sexually creative sensuality comes the silent knowledge of death, unnoticed until too late. Unavoidable. Necessary.
Is Trauma what happens when a god takes possession of us without our consent?
‘With Death as my advisor’: prayer child arising from a falling vulva with a contained challenge of aliveness and tension in the line and expression
Trauma: not only the result of annihilatory treatment in the Death Camps.
Trauma: also the silent and unnoticed introduction of death, slipping in where it was least expected and in the very moment when we are opening our budding selves up to the world. The butterfly. Even if predicted, the unknown event lies in wait until long after it can no longer be avoided.
Trauma: unspeakable.
‘Tears of sperm (from his weeping eyes) pour into me, I rise up’
There is a sudden jolt as you realise that you are being treated as if you were someone else. The child has been abducted and given a new name. She is never the same again. Snatched and gone. She, he, they, we, are spoken to as someone else. We have forgotten who they are and we don’t know what happened to them. No memory. He only knows he is here on a temporary basis and one day, somehow, he must find a way back to them. He hadn’t till then known that somewhere below there is a huge space where once his life would have been. The full effect of the destructive moment only becomes known once you are way past the tipping point into the turmoil. I fell through the swirling centre, pulled in and down headlong, unending. All those photos, all those posts, all those likes. Still-falling without understanding; silent scream-rushes in my throat. The one who remains walks under a different name, unsure who is the ghost: them or their other?
The trauma of social media: it offers you the chance to cancel yourself through the lure of constructing who you thought you wanted to be.
Someone has been ghosted. Someone is being cancelled. I can’t remember them. All.

In the story of Wolf Alice a young girl is found in the woods by the nuns and rescued back to their convent. She is filthy and goes on all fours and huddles growling in the corner snarling at them. She doesn’t hear words of love, and never has, but she has felt the tongue of love from her wolf-mother. Though named by Wolf Alice, is she not also vitalised by Kore and so Persephone by another name? Is she not ‘the bud of flesh in the kind lion’s mouth’ (A. Carter 1979)? Untameable, she is given to the Duke who feeds on the dead, exhuming recent graves in the local churchyard at night, lurching off with a recent-bride’s torso slung over his shoulder. Death is all around her and she is unafraid. She watches the moon waxing to full and is awoken by the bleeding between her legs. The Duke of Death is ambushed and shot. And Wolf Alice, newly emerging into herself under the gentle caress of her own care, is able to share that loving touch with him. Her loving tongue soothes him as he struggles to survive the wounds of murderous intent inflicted by the humans ambushing him from the Church.
‘page of collaboration: text with tongue, distress, longing’
In The Remnants of Auschwitz Agamben delineates that which eludes being captured by words: the trauma of annihilation.
In The Unspeakable Girl Agamben’s exploration of the Eleusinian Mystery rites appears to present an alternative understanding of Persephone’s trauma as being one that leads to an experience of ecstatic re-birth. The essence of this experience refuses colonisation or interpretation, is not restricted to an elite or retained for the select, but is open to all. It cannot be transmitted or described; it can only be experienced in the body. The Kore, the young girl, the essence of vital life, is re-born from the trauma. This is Wolf Alice. This is also Little Kate being brought back to an enlivened beingness through the tiny ink drawings and the paintings.
‘Finding Little Kate’ suspended, momentarily
The paintings in this exhibition of the Unspeakable are like still-shot images from a renaissance of life out of the trauma of the once lost. They pulse with life caught momentarily in an eternal present, balanced between an impossibly uncertain past and a tremulously reached-for future.

In another small book published with the title Ninfe three years before The Unspeakable Girl, Agamben quotes Walter Benjamin’s note that the ‘image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now (jetzt) to form a constellation […] a threshold between immobility and movement.’ (Agamben 2007 p26)
Ninfe, published in translation under the title Nymphs in 2011, appears to track the spoor of the moment of coming into being as it has threaded its way through the work of artists and philosophers through the Renaissance from the Medieval to the Modern. There are instances of suspension at which this moment of coming into being can be witnessed or experienced; and these instances are unspeakable and not unconnected to trauma.
Agamben’s work makes the case that it is precisely and only in these instances of suspension that the image itself can come into being, can come to life, being rescued from what he quotes Benjamin as describing as merely ‘alienated things’ that have been ‘hollowed out’ (Agamben 2007 p28). He is making a subtle but crucial point: hollowed out alienated things are not images, they are signs emptied of all meaning, where ‘meaning’ appears as the opposite of death.
‘Angel with child (self-portrait)’: The nymph begins to acquire her soul
In Kate Walters’ work presented in this exhibition we see these images being nursed into being out of the inchoate uncertainties of her own traumatic experience which is both hers and that of all of us who, confronted with the shock of the not-understood, continue struggling towards awareness, continue pushing and being pulled towards the sun.
‘Rasa watercolour’ ‘Hiding in a wall’
As we can see in the texture and gesture of line, colour and medium, embodiment of ink or oil pigment, these moments of suspension are both powerful and fragile, constantly eluding us and on the point of disappearing. Agamben quotes Benjamin: ‘images are constellated between alienated things and incoming and disappearing meanings – are instantiated in the moment of indifference between death and meaning’ (Agamben 2007 p29). As Agamben says ‘the dialectical image holds its object suspended in a semantic void’ (Agamben 2007 p29/30).
‘Creatureliness and dreaming of you’
Our experience in that ‘semantic void’ is to witness and to have testimony of that moment impressed upon us primarily in, not through, our body’s senses. These works are themselves unspeakable because they have to be understood in the moment of being that is held in the body. They are also moments in which seeing the Medusa becomes revelatory rather than deathly.
Little Kate, as she comes into view through the ink spilling itself over the typed words of little books, brings with her something from her past and ours that gets reworked in the very act of her formation and this process of vitalization, of renaissance, appears almost epiphanic. It is for this that Little Kate is also Kore, Persephone, kissing the flower thrusting into her whole face, overwhelmed by her own sex and so vulnerable to being captured and exploited by the male gaze of patriarchal power and having to find an Eleusinian way to resist.

Persephone’s story comes to us through the Homeric poem called the ‘Hymn to Demeter’. The Hymn was an oral performance which conveyed what had happened to those listening so they would share in the experience and bear witness to its effects. Agamben quotes Albert Lord on Homeric poems: ‘an oral poem is not composed for but in performance’ (Agamben 2007 p13/14). He links this to Aby Warburg’s theory of Pathosformeln in that they too ‘are hybrids of matter and form, of creation and performance, of first-timeness (primovoltita) and repetition.’ (Agamben 2007 p14) Each repetition with which the image is brought to life, is an instance of first-timeness, because it takes place in the performative space between the work and the witness.
‘Kissing the Angel’
Aby Warburg’s theory of Pathosformeln traces the persistent and elusive appearance in pictorial art of the formulated range of gestural instances of passion. One of which, the nymph, is the subject of the 46th plate of Mnemosyne Atlas. None of the nymphs depicted in plate 46 can be considered the ‘original’ and none of them are ‘copies’, each nymph, Agamben writes, ‘is an indiscernible blend of originariness and repetition, of form and matter’ and so is ‘a being whose form punctually coincides with its matter and whose origin is indissoluble from its becoming’ and that a being such as this ‘is what we call time’. ‘Pathosformeln are made of time – they are crystals of historical memory, crystals which are ‘phantasmatized’ (in Domenico’s sense) and round which time writes its choreography.’ (Agamben 2007 p15)
Through the concentrated devotion that enables an opening of the imagination, the ‘hollowed out’ ‘alienated things’ are drawn up by an artist like Kate Walters out of the swirling memorial past into a momentary suspension on the canvas (or page) where they are infilled with the beingness of images that have ‘charged themselves with time almost to the point of exploding’ (Agamben 2007 p4), creating the threshold between immobility and movement.
‘Girl with spirit animals breathing…’ ‘into her crown’
In Warburg’s description of the nymph as also ‘an elemental spirit (Elementargeist), a pagan goddess in exile’ (Agamben 2007 p39) Agamben recognises a reference to Paracelsus’ essay ‘De nymphis, sylphis, pygmies et salamandris et caeteris spiritibus’ which explores the nature of a creature of the spirit. All of these have bodies, like animals, and can reason, like humans, but because they are also of a spirit nature they do not have souls. However, the nymph can acquire a soul by copulating with a man, and any children she might bear will also have souls (Agamben 2007 p 45).
‘I meet my Angel Out Ahead’ ‘Beatrice in Paradiso’
Agamben describes these elemental spirits as constituting ‘the ideal archetype of every separation of man from himself’ (Agamben 2007 p44). If we interpret ‘man’ and ‘himself’ as being an indeterminate gender term, we might see that the joining of the nymph with the body of the artist, and with the body of the witness, is the process by which this separation is healed. Furthermore, it is a re-enactment of the epiphanic moment that renews itself into an originary experience each time we look at one of the paintings in this exhibition of Kate Walters.
‘Third eye, third mouth. Tiny drawing in a book’
Agamben writes with reference to Averroes (aka Ibn Rushd) that ‘imagination delineates a space in which we are not yet thinking, in which thought becomes possible through an impossibility to think’ (Agamben 2007 p55-6), and that thinking is made possible by uniting (copulating) with the phantasms/images of imagination and memory, ‘which are the ultimate constituents of the human and the only avenues to its possible rescue’ (Agamben 2007 p56).
The image suspended and charged with time requires an experiential union within the poetic and imaginal body of the artist and thereafter of the witness. This is the place where meaning comes into being, where soul is made and where psychic reality is enabled to emerge. The psychic reality of who each one of us experiences ourselves to be, the collective psychic reality of our daily cultural experience, is formed by this unfolding process.

The Unspeakable: solo exhibition at Studio KIND, Braunton.

On February 24th 2023 my solo exhibition reflecting on my own and others’ experiences of trauma will open. It will feature works from the past 12 years or so, comprising watercolours, oil paintings, and works in found books as well as tiny loose drawings exploring dream imagery around trauma, loss, love, desire and longing. Some of these works have been made after and during periods of psychoanalysis. Themes of protection and descent will be explored, and an acknowledgment that we can gain great riches if we have the courage, wherewithal and support necessary to dive into the areas of ourselves which might be buried alive, frozen, grieving or wounded.

There will be short passages of writing to support the exhibition.
Here is an extract:
Trauma is being without the ability to protect yourself (you are vulnerable to predators). You allow a man you know only slightly (but have reservations about) into your home at night. He brings cans of special brew with him and you don’t know that’s a red flag. Your father didn’t teach you how to protect yourself. The young man with the beer tells you you’re beautiful before he says he’ll kill you if you don’t make him some tea. You freeze in terror, your dogs do nothing. You think of your young son upstairs in bed. You make tea for the man. You wait in agony placating him and when he’s drunk his tea you somehow get him out of the house (I don’t remember how) then you dial 999 and they come with a big van and they take him away. He makes a lot of noise when they catch him outside my house. The neighbours do nothing, say nothing.

Trauma can be loving someone who doesn’t love you in return. It’s loving when it’s hopeless, it’s loving when he hurts you over and over again, it’s loving the man who must in some way be like your father, that man whose love you needed and wanted but never received.
He’s the man who writes to you and tells you the passion, the charge between you, will never be enacted. You cry in your Venetian hotel room, soft and silent tears. Your grown son is with you, he hears your silent crying and sits up, soothing you, and telling you what you know. In the night I think he’s an angel when he brushes my arm with the lightest of touches.

Here are links to the workshop on March 18th, which will begin with a short talk on the exhibition.
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/artists-and-the-inner-child-workshop-with-kate-walters-tickets-515581888307?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

https://www.studiokind.org.uk/classes

Photographs by Sally Tripptree and the artist.

December 2022 Studio Notes and thoughts

Horses

At the Venice Biennale last month the first pavilion I entered was the Belgian one, this year represented by Francis Alys. I looked in the catalogue which was a facsimile of his sketchbook. In it I saw a horse standing over a reclining figure. I was reminded of my times with my horse all the days when she would stand over me as I lay curled upon her floor like hair or straw or air. (And then when I saw the photos I took on Iona on the beach holding the 360 degree camera over my head but it caught my hair laying like some strange grass or weed washed up by the sea or erupting; a strange wave of hair out of the sand).

Reading a new book in bed about dreams and Leonora Carrington I discover that she too had a close connection with horses, and one in particular from her youth: like me. We were both carried as we grew from girls into women, carried on the backs of horses.

Horse’s tongue mothering me, washing and grooming my back, my neck. How I need and needed to feel this.

Art saves. It allows for the expression of what is unconscious and what could damage our bodies. It gives holy expression to our pain and transforms.

Fathers and Animals

I’m beginning to see, thanks to my new painting, that my new father might be half animal and half man. Little Kate will be happy with this I think. She thinks about being washed by a mothers tongue like animals do. I need more Scala Pink.

Descent

I dream of watching a whale’s fin rise in the water, swim for a while, then regularly and rhythmically descend beneath the eaves. My shamanic teacher is beside me. I waken and think about the shamanic work and the dream is telling me to ask it to be with me in my work on descending.

Dream, early December

A fragment. Of a tiny hole in a wall of bricks/rubble/partial plaster( as in Italy) and the small square hole has tiny pieces of rubble and sticks in it which I had to take out. I had to go through this hole to descend to a dark place beneath. I did manage to energetically get through he hole by shape-shifting. I’m reminded of a dream from a couple of years ago, in which I had a needle stuck in my throat, and I asked the man in my life (then) to take it out for me. He was unable to accomplish it. So I did it myself, with a mirror. In the end it was not difficult, it didn’t hurt, and there was no blood.

Solstice

As I drummed I saw my body full of flames, many little fires all over my body, all burning sweetly, steadily, quietly. I was told to let go of anything which distorts the flames, suppresses them or causes them to burn in a distorted or distorting way. There is a connection between the fire, flames, and music which I don’t understand yet. It’s to do with the way things grow when there is harmony; an elegance and an ease in the development of form.

In the meditation around the chakras it became clear that traces of energies which are no longer ours or which don’t belong to us or help us can be released and visualized as tiny energetic petals falling away to dust.

In my own meditation on the crown/headdress and the drawing I can now see how closely it resembles a tree and how far down the energetic roots grow. I was told I need to manifest all I’m given spiritually, and to work with an energetic staff. Having a holy appendage. Crowning different parts of the body. Maybe the breasts, belly, sexual area. Draw this…

Notes from the end of the blue notebook

Gabor Mate p 133 The Myth of Normal.

“Since emotion is the engine of maturation, when children lose their tender feelings, they become stuck in their immaturity.”

“The child’s expression of feelings cannot threaten the attachment relationship with the parents.”

“We have instilled in her the anxiety of being rejected if her emotional self were to surface.”

“By banishing feelings from awareness, we merely send them underground, a locked cellar of emotions, that will continue to haunt many lives.”

You’re shielded from grief but need joy to discover this.

Free play 1:1, agenda free vital for the development of neocortex engaging joy and imagination.

….

More notes

Dream on 22.12.22 about Heaven coming down into the body. Like a V or birds wings appearing to break the body in half and yet not…the Heavenly energy does not break the body, it imprints itself on the body precisely as bird’s wings, flight, might do. Or it opens a space within the cells of the body to know the vibration of Heaven within the body. This was the sense of the dream. Then I was ill, so had plenty of time to reflect on this.

Drawing Near

In September 2022 I was sitting quietly in my studio feeling vaguely agitated about something when an idea about creating and doing something positive to raise money and awareness entered the top of my head like a wedge. It wouldn’t go away.

I was waiting to see some visitors to my studio; they were bringing their daughter, who is studying at Oxford University, to see my work.
By the time my visitors arrived, I had decided to move ahead with my idea. Indeed, it wouldn’t let go of me until I made that decision.
I told my visitors about my plan, and they became the first to offer a contribution – which was: their daughter, Dulcie Havers would give a talk about her scientific research during the exhibition. (This proved to be fascinating at the event). They also promised to tell their friends… I realized early on that one of the key factors would be getting enough people to come along to buy and give their attention and energy to the event.

The next thing I did was to contact Tom at Tremenheere gallery, and Neil and Jane who own it, to ask for their permission. This was given, cheerfully, then Tom and I met to discuss dates.

I started to tell people, and to ask people to donate work or time or a skill. I became brazen about asking! Something I never could have done some years ago.

I used my network and contacted many people asking them to give talks. One early contact was with Anne-Marie Solowij, ex-Vogue journalist and driver of mini-buses to Ukraine with food and supplies for people still there, and to offer safe passage for those wishing to leave. She told me her own father had been a refugee from Ukraine many years ago. She promised to give an illustrated talk (clips are on my instagram feed).

One of my preoccupying thoughts was about which charities we should support. For various reasons I had given up on mainstream media, and I’d become a keyboard warrior and follower of many charities, scientists, researchers, advocates and activists on Twitter. Through my connections on this platform I learned about the work of several charities and situations of great need which helped me to make decisions about who we should support. As a shamanic practitioner and artist I’m keenly aware of the inter-relatedness of all living beings, so I felt clear that Extinction Rebellion should be supported; in fact it was Ocean Rebellion who came as well as representatives from XR to talk about their work and to show us the horrors – and implications – of the assaults on living systems in the oceans.

In the late summer of 2022 the flooding due to the climate catastrophe was severe in Pakistan so I felt we should support the Disasters Emergency Committee who always help in situations of dire need. Many yeas ago I was part of a team which created a fund-raising show for Freedom from Torture; it felt imperative that we support them again. We had a great speaker -Ian Pye – from the organization too (clips on Instagram).

Sometime earlier in the summer I found a fascinating essay on Twitter about the climate catastrophe and the need for us to begin to embrace catastrophic language – it being the only appropriate one for what is coming towards us, fast – by an academic in the US called Susan Kassouf. This essay helped me to hone my thinking around this topic – I was also beginning to turn my thoughts at the same time to an exhibition I have coming soon which opens on February 24th 2023 at Studio Kind in Devon – about Trauma. Catastrophe and Trauma and the ways we have of thinking about them tend to be ignored, swept under the carpet, shamed, or belittled. I wanted to find a strong (and also vulnerable) way of being with our thoughts and feelings about what is going on in the world. Rates of change are fast and demanding us to be adaptable and wide awake.

In October I taught my usual workshop on Iona, and to my great relief a number of my most passionate and dependable students offered to help run the event. Their help proved invaluable; I couldn’t have done it without them. Other current and ex-students offered to help in so many ways….

Throughout November the pressure built and works started to arrive from all over the UK. I carried on asking. A tiny few said ‘no’. It was a big ask: requesting work from artists who would get nothing in return. A very few people were put off by the mention of XR. Finding an auctioneer was hard; in the end I asked Jesse Leroy Smith who did a wonderful job and gave a stirring speech too….

I began to lose sleep feeling the pressure. I posted almost daily on various platforms to encourage contributions and footfall. I had other work to do at the same time including teaching so it all felt like a lot to carry. Then it was the handing-in day and I arrived late, after delegating. I was out and about in my car collecting work and plants and books for the event. Angela Cockayne provided copies of her new book, and plants she’s raised for us to sell. My car was full!

Newlyn Art School, Tanya Krzywinska, Penny Florence and Falmouth University helped by lending us IT equipment for the film screenings and talks.

I had around 30 emails or messages to respond to daily about various logistical arrangements for the event. I felt pretty overwhelmed. But it was great to see so much work coming in and such a wide variety. Larger pieces were particularly welcome – thank you Sophie and Charlotte!

Then it was the evening and time for me and Jesse to complete the placing. Marie-Claire Hamon and I had already had a first attempt at making some kind of order/beauty from our generous submissions.

Jesse offered a fresh eye and before long it all made sense.

The following morning Dan Pyne, Andrew Swann, Una D’Aragona and Karen Lorenz began to install. They did an amazing job. We had to do it all in one day. It was tough. Other people helped with labels and running things around.

The following day on December 2nd we opened at 11 am and the visitors began to arrive.

Dulcie Havers and her friend fellow Oxford student Jamie Walker gave powerful readings about the scientific perspective on climate change. Delpha Hadson came and entertained us with her light touch and her gorgeous music….

We had a powerful and slightly frightening performance piece about refugees by Ilker Cinarel and Penny Florence on Friday evening; after that my favourite part which was a shamanic ceremony to bring in blessings and prayers for the whole event. Photographer Alban Roinard came along and took great photos of the Friday evening’s events – free of charge….

On Saturday the visitor numbers grew and we started to make considerable numbers of sales. It was so heartening.

Readings and talks followed, by Ian Pye, Anne-Marie Solowij, Katrina Naomi, Sophie Miller, Ben Ross and Neil Scott. They were all powerful and moving. There are clips on my Instagram feed.

Kathy Wray spent two days making portrait drawings of visitors for a small fee, and she performed a dance too, moving us all away from words….

At 5 pm Jesse arrived and shortly after he gave a profound and hilarious speech urging us all to win our heart’s desire by buying them a piece of art…fortunately there were several couples where love bestowed generosity upon their hearts; and high bids. It was great.

By around 6.30 pm it was all over and then the big task of counting and checking began.

And the tidying up!

Most of us were extremely tired but we had to leave the gallery in good order so our cold Sunday morning was spent making good the walls and wrapping and packing unsold works – many of which are still at my home waiting for possibly another event to be run next time by a larger team in another part of Cornwall….

My sincere and unending thanks to all who helped in so many ways.

But especially to Nikki Kenna, Sally Tripptree and Karen Lorenz.

Photos and clips on my Instagram feed:
https://www.instagram.com/katewaltersartist/

Essay on my work by Fanny Johnstone. No Ordinary Woman.


Photo by kind permission of Hana Shahnavaz, taken at Arusha Gallery on the opening night of my solo show in June 2022

Kate Walters: No Ordinary Woman

Painter, poet, shaman, writer and tutor.

Kate Walters ‘Love Paintings’ – featuring lovers, angels, spirit animals, organs and shamanic embodiments ablaze with emotion – are currently on a one-man show at the Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh til July 24th. Raw, delicate and primordial, Walters’ pictures wield love and sexuality in glowing colour and form. The exhibition seems an aching invitation for us all to remember something long forgotten… deeply buried.

The love and longing pouring out of the figures is almost uncomfortably intimate for the modern viewer – and yet endearing and relatable, which draws us in. What gives Walters the courage of her convictions that each of her pictures – which surely parade vulnerability as a true strength – has something worth saying?

“Experience, practice. Listening to my paintings and the accounts and feedback of others on experiencing them. A sense of completeness when I spend time with them. Knowing their history, what they’ve been through to come to the point of completion. It’s never simple or easy or a short journey: each picture has a huge history lying like a curled sleeping snake behind it. When writers write about my work it helps me to have confidence in what the pictures are saying, and that they can speak to many.”

As well as artist, writer and teacher, Walters is a classically trained shaman. With the door to a spirit world openable through shamanic ritual, and with so many influences to choose from both human and spiritual, I wonder how Walters renders her choice of images down to form a sense of cohesion to her body of work?

“The roots for this body of work are intense penetration of certain themes and obsessions of mine – the symbolic imagination, myths, mysticism, poetic language, various religious traditions. For example Sufi mysticism and the writings which explore it, such as those by Tom Cheetham and Henry Corbin. There is also the joy of paint itself and the magic which happens when you allow it to help you find the true voice of your creative imagination.

“Then, at certain points in a family of paintings, I do step back and look at how they are relating to each other, but if one’s path is strong their relation to each other will not be forced or managed, it will happen without design, having its own mysterious blueprint. Cohesion grows and develops naturally, as a tree might grow a strong crown from deep and well-watered roots.

How does someone like Walters – whose accent firmly places her own roots in or around London – come to be working as an artist and shaman in Penwith?

“I began my life as an artist around 35 years ago, soon after my son was born. I’d been to art school (Brighton) 10 years previously and apart from working in sketchbooks, a little writing and photography, I’d run a farm and didn’t have the energy for making art back then. But when my son was born and I had a difficult time in my personal life, I began to have intense dreams and the need to express myself creatively grew powerfully. A few years later I went part-time in my art-teaching career and began an MA at Falmouth university. Soon after I moved to Cornwall and began to develop my own practice in a dedicated way, on very little money and as a single parent.”

We all know how finding the time to make and create art can be difficult, especially while working, raising a child and fitting into a new community. And building self-confidence can take a lifetime. How long has it taken Walters to create – and have confidence in – her own artistic language?

“I’ve had three or perhaps four main phases of artistic language… they’ve evolved gradually in most cases, each one leading naturally to the next in a way which I didn’t feel I was directing. When I first moved to Penzance in 1997 I worked in oil painting and drawing, responding to this wild landscape for a few years. I was writing then too and dreaming – my emotional life fragile – and this was reflected in the paintings and drawings which sought to explore and understand my inner life. Gradually the explorations of my psyche and various traumatic events came to meet the surface where my hands encountered the paper, and the confidence to express these impulses slowly grew and

accumulated. Each time a new language emerges it feels like a surprise, yet it is also known and always welcomed.”

Kate Walters is a striking figure with long silver hair, a strong self-contained presence, and a great pair of knee-high pink suede boots. She has lived a big life so far, and her presence makes a confident statement. What does she favour about Newlyn School of Art?

“It has a wide range of practising artists and tutors who are very experienced. I’ve taught in a lot of places and there’s no substitute for experience – it counts for a lot. And it’s very practical and hands-on compared to other art schools. Newlyn uses a lot of traditional materials like gesso, and ink made from plant pigments, which have gone out of use but which contemporary artists are coming back to and I’m all for.”

A recent Newlyn student myself I am always hungry for advice from tutors about how to get better, to get more in depth into my work, to feel and think like an artist. Walters’ sense of self seems so strong, and her knowledge profound. What rich sources does she draw from to inform and consolidate and suggest future works?

“I read very widely (books on psychoanalysis, other artists, traditions and writers such as Georgianna Houghton, Maria Lassnig, Louise Bourgeois, James Hillman, erotic art, Persian miniatures, Helene Cixous, Anne Carson, Tantra, etc) and this has helped to give me a feeling of context, to enjoy the company of fellow travellers, even though they may be long dead or far away. Something is shared which gives me a feeling of belonging, especially needed when the areas I’m exploring are fleeting, wispy, fugitive, subtle, elusive, tender, afraid.”

“When I’m painting I’ll jot down words or phrases which come, or places of understanding I’m taken to through the process of painting. Tiny drawings sparked by what’s happening in the painting will also arrive; and sometimes I’ll make another painting from a particular phase in a painting which I know will soon be subsumed by another development. These words might become titles, or they might grow into the poems I write alongside my painting practice. And sometimes the most overlooked areas of one’s practice… the shadow… bears the most riches.”

w/c 1099

Links to essays: https://www.arushagallery.com/usr/documents/press/download_url/182/kate-walters-essay-joseph-suart.pdf

https://www.arushagallery.com/usr/documents/press/download_url/181/love-paintings-essay-amy-hale.pdf

Drawing Near at Tremenheere Gallery, December 2nd and 3rd 2022


Drawing Near is an exhibition, fund-raising event and awareness raising time which will be held at Tremenheere Gallery – by generous permission of Neil Armstrong and Jane Martin. Tom Heale, the gallery manager will be managing sales and overseeing much of the organisation – thank you Tom!
Tremenheere Gallery is just outside Penzance.
The idea for the event came to me one afternoon when I was sitting in my studio thinking about Ukraine, the floods in Pakistan, and the climate emergency, species extinction, and refugees. For many months I have been running a prayer circle for the people of Ukraine, with friends who work with me for healing and restoration.
Around 10 years ago I initiated an event to raise funds for Freedom from Torture which was held at Anima Mundi, by kind permission of Joseph Clarke.

This time we are hoping to support more charities, to include Freedom from Torture, Disasters Emergency Committee, Eden Aid, medecins sans frontieres, Sea Shepherd and XR.
We are inviting artists to donate works, and to deliver on November 30th to the gallery between 11am and 3 pm. All funds raised will go the charities named.
I will place the works that evening with the help of Jesse LeRoy Smith. The next day, December 1st, a great team is assembled to install the exhibition, which will include works by the great painters Richard Cook, Marie-Claire Hamon, Louise McClary, Naomi Frears, Andy Harper, Rachael Reeves, Gareth Edwards, ceramics by Linda Styles and Jesse Selkin, prints by Paul Bloomer, Anita Reynolds and others, works by Jesse Smith, Dan Pyne, Charlotte Turner, Sally Tripptree, Yolande Armstrong, Una D’Aragona, Tanya Krzywinska, and many others including me.
There will also be events such as a poetry reading by Katrina Naomi, meditations, shamanic ceremony, an auction, essays and other readings. There will also be a talk by a lorry driver who takes supplies to Ukraine and returns with refugees.
The event begins on December 2nd at 11am. There will be events all day on the 2nd, finishing that evening with a shamanic ceremony for healing at 6 pm. On the 3rd we will be open from 11am with further events and sales, finishing with an auction at 2.15 pm and closing the doors at 5pm that day.
There is ample free parking. We are hoping for lots of interested people and buyers to help support this event, all the people who will benefit, and all the artists who have been so generous with their time and works.