In the Garden Gallery, Dartington, I will be showing a series of works with my friend Karen Lorenz, opening April 12th (6 – 8 pm) and open until May 15th.
Some of my work will be new pieces influenced by time spent on Shetland, and some will be the works made pre-Shetland. I’ve recently been thinking more about my process …here are some thoughts and reflections…
I’m very interested in frequencies and energetic vibrations – and classical music which I listen to all the time. I am trained in classical shamanism and I have a lot of knowledge/experience related to that which I draw on.
I never draw from observation – apart from the line describing the crest of a hill or Head, or the curve of a geo….On Shetland I work & write from/in the landscape with my sketchbooks – but they are more to do with atmosphere and the spirit of place.
I ask the spirit of the place/work to show itself to me and then I work with it when it comes (I feel it in my body). I also look at these drawings/notes when at home in my Newlyn studio to help me key in to the purity and openness of Shetland; they become postcards to myself.
Regarding the horse, bird & human anatomy, I have always been keenly observant and I experience things/visual phenomena on a deep level of knowing which I draw on with my watercolours/paintings/writing. I rode, trained and worked with horses for many years and I learned to anticipate and see the tiniest traces of anything that might be afflicting them.
My paintings and watercolours are about subtle phenomena finding a safe place to settle in order to manifest physically/psychically.
They are like birds or sky flakes coming to rest (this imagery comes from a recent dream).
This is why watercolour is so appropriate, as it is energetically light and pure.
Shamanically, objects/pictures have to be alive to have power. The nature and quality of the power is very important.
Mother as Source
Mother with pouch catches baby
I avoid anything which feels spell-like or which emanates from a place which makes me feel uneasy. I rely on impluses/psychic antennae in my body to warn me. It is not an intellectual process.
People sometimes dream about my work. This is good as it means they – the pictures- are working. Dreams often inform my work by suggesting ways I can explain phenomena )as above).
I love to be in wild places where human interference is faint – for example – the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, and Italian National Parks. I like to feel the bones of a place, where the spirit can shine and be bright. It is very important for the clarity of my vision and my dreams to visit these places as often as I can…..I’ll be returning to Shetland this Summer, and to the Dolomites soon after….
Baby with spirit Parents of Song
I will be speaking about this embodied work at a Symposium on April 13th in Plymouth.
Course at Shorlands Old Farm on Exmoor with Kate Walters
April 20 – 24th (arriving Friday afternoon after 4 pm, leaving Tuesday morning after breakfast).
Walking, drawing, writing, and painting: tuning into the wild beauty of the place.
Two places left suitable for two friends or a couple (double or twin room).
£500 each or £550 for a single occupancy.
Further details: We will have the use of a large studio on the Farm, which we will work in if it is wet and during some evenings. We will be free to roam on the farm, and we will make a couple of longer walks to wild high points and to the ruins of a mediaeval village.
I will go into detail about my working method and show some recent work. We will look at the poetry of indigenous peoples; work with the Dark Sky, the dream, and practice shamanic walking (a very peaceful and energy-conserving way to walk). There will be the opportunity, safety and space for some deep creative work. It is a lovely group of people already assembled. Please get in touch for further information and to confirm your place. email@example.com 07816 098807 – thank you!
An exhibition of works in watercolour (2008 – 2018) and a small selection of framed archive watercolours (some shown below), including two works which were shown in the Jerwood Drawing Exhibition in 2008.
At the Borlase Smart Room, Porthmeor Studios, Back Road West, St Ives, TR26 1NG
Opening celebration Saturday March 10th 17.00 – 20.00
Open Monday – Saturday 10 – 5 most days (Please call this number to check the room is open before you make a long trip: 01736 339 339.)
I will also be writing and working in residence on Saturday March 31st, 11 – 5 pm. I’ll give a reading from my notebooks at 3 pm; afterwards there will be a Q & A – all welcome!
The exhibition runs until April 8th.
Listening to myself, far away
Baby muzzle animal-brown and twitching
in amongst the spirit grass
thread of sound on the breeze
finds you, tiny babe floating adrift.
In 2017 I was able to spend two periods in residence on Shetland. I went to write and to make work. I’d travelled intending to work in oils, to explore my painting, but the residency room was spotless and I didn’t feel I could risk oily spills. So I walked and wrote and made drawings. The nights were short and pale; I made myself a nest in my bunk bed, draping the sides with blackout material to enable me to swim into sleep, away from the revolving eyes of the lighthouse and the late low Sun.
During the days I’d walk the spotless beaches, the sandy spits, the brilliant-weed-encased piers and brochs; fish heads swam on tides, Terns hovered overhead, kites to my mind; orca stormed the coves, and seals sung to me. I was lured onto rocks, black, shiny, high and low as birds’ flight tunnels, birth canals for dream.
One night I saw myself in a disembodied womb, floating in space. I pulled on the cord through the starry cervix, out I came, unfolding and erect in a moment, and then quick as a comet, I disappeared. Awoken and startled I wrote and then I began to draw, with watercolour. This was 7 months ago, and still the drawings come, all rooted to that dream. The series currently numbers around 300.
Essay on these works by Rev’d Dr. Richard Davey:
Painting is a physical and decisive act: a mark initiating a world, forcing a form into existence, drawing ephemeral fragments from the imagination into physical being. Paint builds – it structures and shapes, leaving a pigment deposit on paper and canvas; allowing formless things to become concrete, drawing the invisible into perceivable being. But this is not what we encounter in Kate Walters’ Shetland watercolours. These are not paintings that build form, but vehicles through which we are pulled into formlessness; encounters with the ephemeral rather than the physical, a breath of pigment deposited onto paper that suggests figures and forms without defining their solid presence. Figures float into being, still tethered into the void, their weightless form a hesitant proposition. The origin of these tentative creatures was a dream granted to Walters when she was recently staying on Shetland; a vision of her foetal form cast adrift in a disembodied uterus, its unbounded body free of physical constraints, floating in interconnected communion with the universe. It is perhaps unsurprising that such a dream should have come on Shetland, a thin space where physical boundaries are dissolved in the constant ebb and flow that blends sea and shore in a swirling, unresolved flux. As she watched seals blur the line between sea and air and terns draw soaring patterns in the air before plunging into crystalline waters, Walters herself became a shamanic hollow bone, a conduit between the physical and immaterial realms. In her sketches she is seal, fulmar, tern and foetus, a boundary crosser, diving into a cosmic space before birth and after death where everything is held in unresolved, undifferentiated potential.
Below examples of notes, first drafts….I’m working on these for my new book Shetland Notebooks, to be launched March 2019 at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh.
Silent rivers connect us. Rivers underground. Rivers of sleep. Rivers growing in feathers, birthing from bird skin, pale-follicled, scented. Rivers speak to each other. Veins borrow form, belly-burrowing.
The infant is saddled. A saddled infant.
Cervix protrudes. The protruding cervix, rope of umbilicus attached. Pink rope, twisted with grasses and hair. The face I came to find is the lamb’s face up on the hill, abandoned. Her eyes stare and rock in sockets, white and blue as newborn orbs in grassy cribs.
Another rope connecting mouth and anus lies yellow and pink on the island finger. Bird brought down or died blind. Dagger head asleep. Overhead weary sky gods brush heavy sleeves, smearing blue to bruise. But the island is emerald pocketed, treasury. I sit and watch a seal balancing on a rock as the tide insistently grows. Necklace of red breaks around you seal, I see it. You are washed off the rock, you disappear into a cave. I wait to see you again.
Spell of night shows girl child with lashes long as horse tails tilting upwards; they make her climate mantle, hollow tubes to sky.
Beside her a cow, skin made of Heaven-flakes flying down from the sky to clothe her body in gold.
In another drawing my breasts have the sensing of animal muzzles, I hear myself from far away. I dream of Orkney, violet on grey, of a man in an old house, or climbing among ruins, of wanting to be there.
She carries the night on her shoulders, she has a cord to night, it emerges from her shoulders, grows into a tree. I wear reins to restrain me when I become too wild.
Tears to bone, water to bone. Baby who floats. Baby upside down. Babe in her nest, babe with wings like sails she gathers up. Dreaming of a rare brown flower, and of being told the world had lost all its magpies, feeling sad.
The breath of my feet grows lungs.
Breath vessel a sky tree makes. Baby connected to organs she borrows from birds. Birth canal as beak, umbilicus stiff, bird’s tongue.
The tongue, the nosebleed and the body.
Baby feet two little penises in a cocoon.
The world between: placenta, umbilical cord, foliage, forests, language, tongues and fragments of faces.
The wet limb, ghostly father
Babe in Spirit Eye, Spirit Sky seed.
womb with teeth, womb fenced in.
Male womb found by spirit babe.
Finding the male womb in space, in the quiet eye of the stillborn lamb nestled swollen on a Shetland hill; in that part of the face, a fragment, resting; in the torn end/tip of the umbilical cord trailing on the grass; in the tip/on the toe of the soft birth hoof white, waxy; forever virginal spirit-borne, colourless visitor seen only by keen eyes, those who sit on heathery hillsides, the watchers, the walkers at dawn, the far-away ones, the wakeful.
I’ve been working with a range of artists, female and male, for around three years; these artists are friends, colleagues, and former students I’ve met whilst teaching at Newlyn School of Art. We’ve had group exhbitions at Newlyn Art Gallery and The Plough Arts Centre in the past two years. This up-coming exhibition, with a few new artists, will be the last one curated by me, as I need to concentrate on other projects, including an expansive cycle of new works emanating from experiences on Shetland.
This exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre will feature drawings, paintings, sculpture, prints, digital poetry and animation. The artists explore themes such as the human – animal relationship, mothering, the body, wisdom, memory and darkness of the body; chance, the invisible, the holy/ancient/archaic feminine and also the gifts which come from exploring Shadow.
I’ve just returned from Bridport; the installing of the Show, the Private View, and the walk and talk. It was three days’ hard work but it has come together into a cohesive and intense exhibition of works. I realised, when reflecting this morning about the talks we gave, that much of the work is about unearthing what is hidden/unseen/buried/discarded. I spoke about ‘leaving events’ introduced to me by archaeologists on Orkney: the ritual sculptures left for people to find inside sealed up entrances of settlements (the Ness of Brodgar). Penny Florence spoke aloud the sumptuous writing by the late and much missed Partou Zia, and about Valerie Dalton’s work, her excavation of trauma precipitiated by the umbilical cords of dreams; Karen Lorenz spoke about memory, knowing and loss….the loss of awareness, the loss of home; Maggie O’Brien spoke about the truth behind the myth of modern stories about marriage and physical beauty; Max Burrrows spoke about the beauty of mothers hands performing seemingly unremarkable tasks; and Sally Tripptree spoke about the body, the breath, and the imprint of loss.
The talk was well attended and we are grateful for the attention they gave to each of us; workshops will follow in a month.
The Private View, to which all are welcome, is on Friday February 2nd from 6 – 8 pm, with a short introduction from some of the artists. There will be a longer walk and talk with some of the artists on February 3rd at 11 am, for approximately one hour.
Workshops will follow in early March: Drawing Workshop with me, Kate Walters on March 4th, 1-5 pm, maximum 12 spaces; considering the animal body and drawing from within the impulses of the body.
Book binding with Karen Lorenz on Monday 5th March, 11 – 4 pm, maximum 12 spaces; and a digital poetry workshop with Professor Penny Florence, Is Form Gendered? on Saturday 10th March, 11 – 4 pm, maximum 12 spaces.
Booking through the Arts Centre www.bridport-arts.com
The poetry of form, the poetry of water, of paint, of flesh, of whimper, of memory, of winter.
Of unwanted limbs and restless hands. Of unanswered cries, of unstroked palms; of tiny hands worn to stumps through wanting.
Of motherhead-grown legs & a face lamb formed wet on the hillside, left in the sun for bees to breathe in, and sap to suckle; flesh with mist, limbs black and languid…cot-babe opened out on hillside, island-baby black-rocked and wild, bird-beloved, beaten out by Picts.
The One with the flight-burrowed breast
limbs bent as branches bleached,
Hammered in place on the hillside,
mountain-top white where bird voice high-pitched shrieks…
The Spirit of the Wind is not silent. It is dark, deep-furred, it growls in the night and tramps about this tower in the ocean, stirring up the depths.
The elbow of the storm holds this place in an illusion of safety; and it holds me: I’m tiny, light as snow bunting – I hide from hungry snow mouths who bend on their many necks around me.
I listen to the voices of wind, hollow and now thrusting, then to the voices of my cells as I turn to face the wall in my bunk; I know the arm of cloud sweeping over the black sea is drawing a violet haze to haunt the dusk.
I sleep long hours and dream of a large-breasted bird, and of being born on a serpent through an arch, riding it with my companions. I know it will carry me safely through my life.
Being called to place. The place which calls. Waiting for the spirit of this work to show itself to me. I walk towards Horse Island over dark rocks smelling of iron. Something black moves on the soot-dark rocks near the incoming sea. Seal spirit. I remember the white seal pup with the mark of man about it’s neck. I feel the traces of her. Across the rabbit-hollowed turf the ghosts of terns in feather cairns and limpet shells; dark pools of peat-rimmed sky watch the clouds descend. I wear violet across the faded green. I remember my dream of waiting for my Father. Others were waiting too. Many men came through the opening. Then he came to meet me, fatherly, broad, warm, kind; he was the one I’d recognise, and I did.
I sit on cold straw-coloured grass beside the blue-black sea. Night comes. Water horse white and sleek around a corner of my awareness. Salt-scented air, clean.
I will collect the contents of the bird’s stomach, wash it in rain, make a necklace of it. Fish bones from far away carried in a bird’s body through sky.
A green mouth, woody fingers, bowls of deer dust and wire pulled hair (in my pocket on Shetland, even in Italy: it sticks)
Walking in Sun along leafy lanes, red carcass beside the road, enormous, stenchy, a story about a farmer who beheaded a cow, left her here, ignominiously, to rot red to black in the early summer heat
Memories of a farm and badgers, and another farmer who didn’t believe me when I said that I’d shared a bed with badgers when young, one had swung on my nightdress in play and I had darted about the house in fear…
The farm with perfect meadows and flowers, and everything has changed in thirty years…. Kingcombe
And of railway cuttings dark and forgotten with broken bridges and shadowy pathways
Meeting an old friend up on sandy ridges in cold wind speaking of teaching and people I know no more, and of views across Dorset barrows I rode on when young with my childhood friend now dead. Mary.
A hot room with sunny windows and huge trees old friends watching me as I wondered, felt inadequate – sad even – thinking of Rilke and the strings of luminous, running deer; my son came and we sat beside other trees in the woods, the sun bathed us and the tracks of deer narrow and plaited I came to know as my hand.
In the garden with seedlings and soil and geese bathing joyfully opening wings white- wide, I took my son to visit an old lady who had held him as a babe, and loved him as her own, knowing she would not see him again; and of being recognised in Powerstock from living here twenty years and more before;
I’m very happy to announce that I’m going to be the recipient of a Creative Investment Grant from Cultivator. This will enable me to return to Shetland for my research, for some weeks over the next 6 months. I’m enormously grateful for this opportunity to return to the place which has captured my heart, and enabled me to take big steps forward with the focus of my work. All the recent work I owe to Shetland and the dreams afforded to me when I was there.
MOST LOVED MOST FAR: Kate Walters & Julia Maddison
Exhibition: 16 – 28 October 2017
Private View: 17 October 6-8pm
Herrick Gallery is delighted to present new watercolours by Penzance based artist Kate Walters and a delicate multi-media installation by London based artist Julia Maddison. The exhibition is accompanied by the following especially commissioned texts by the Revd. Dr. Richard Davey, Professor Penny Florence and Julian Firth.
Painting is a physical and decisive act: a mark initiating a world, forcing a form into existence, drawing ephemeral fragments from the imagination into physical being. Paint builds – it structures and shapes, leaving a pigment deposit on paper and canvas; allowing formless things to become concrete, drawing the invisible into perceivable being. But this is not what we encounter in Kate Walters’ Shetland watercolours. These are not paintings that build form, but vehicles through which we are pulled into formlessness; encounters with the ephemeral rather than the physical, a breath of pigment deposited onto paper that suggests figures and forms without defining their solid presence. Figures float into being, still tethered into the void, their weightless form a hesitant proposition. The origin of these tentative creatures was a dream granted to Walters when she was recently staying on Shetland; a vision of her foetal form cast adrift in a disembodied uterus, its unbounded body free of physical constraints, floating in interconnected communion with the universe. It is perhaps unsurprising that such a dream should have come on Shetland, a thin space where physical boundaries are dissolved in the constant ebb and flow that blends sea and shore in a swirling, unresolved flux. As she watched seals blur the line between sea and air and terns draw soaring patterns in the air before plunging into crystalline waters, Walters herself became a shamanic hollow bone, a conduit between the physical and immaterial realms. In her sketches she is seal, fulmar, tern and foetus, a boundary crosser, diving into a cosmic space before birth and after death where everything is held in unresolved, undifferentiated potential. Revd. Dr. Richard Davey, September 2017
A Quiet Ecstasy “…a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body,” Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
These images by Kate Walters are immediately arresting in their simplicity and power. They seem to float, as if still in amniotic suspension – the world imbued with the infinite potential of new life. In these moments of metamorphic meeting, forms bond with the inevitable abandon of cells.
In these watercolours, they come into being by means of a felicitous emergence through technique of genuinely deep meaning; that is, the flow of the paint is as much followed as directed, the image a result of fluid, of absorption, of tension and viscosity, observed until the moment of birth, then gently held.
At this level, the interconnectedness of living beings appears as a given, clear, a matter of course. Procreation through the meeting of bodies is touching in all senses, and worlds away from the baggage with which struggling humanity weighs it down. I would call it innocence, except that it is deeply knowing. Perhaps this wisdom is the innocence of the fully grown, like Baudelaire’s willed return to childhood through desire.
Time in these works is thus quite other than linear or even cyclical. It just is. I find that when I have been looking at them, they resolve into a simultaneous continuity, such as occurs in dreams, rather than a sequence. They are all one.
Sanguine would seem to be their only possible colour, and white space the only possible ground; the colours of blood. And sunrise. Professor Penny Florence, September 2017
A thigh meshed in nylon, a pair of red curtains bleeding light, a coat hanger behind a door. Julia Maddison’s work is so elegantly explicit in a fine balance that draws on objects and images that may sit or stand or lie in plain sight, but pierce the skin and twist the root just where purity and sin bargain for sanity.
Across the landing, through the door float memories scattered and scrawled, the wardrobe ajar, streetlight through lace spattering the wall. In the curious elipse the artist has sliced in the fabric of time and place, where recollections the work drew to the surface were not necessarily beyond my control, my anger was both a pleasure to admit and a relief to have done with. Turn a corner, seeping light from watered bulbs, shadows bloom Infirmary red, the blossom of loss. Her lace, wire, cage, photographs, implements that desire a future are things arranged that suggest collective meaning, and though transitory, are solid history by which we negotiate the rumours that trouble our sleep. By which we study what is absent. By which we learn we can forget only what we know. Learn that we are not a property of pain, and that thought and memory are not the same. This space is a prism, of things as perhaps a directory of inner life, ferrying forms of feeling to and from the artists consciousness, they tell a story, different for you as for me, which though brand new, has waited decades to be told. Objects as gestures. An accordion of fear. Magical thinking is parallel to logical thinking, contemporaneous, both are true, these things contain the past and yet are projects for the future.
Julia’s objects and images unravel my minds technology, and deeper memories emerge. The patterns she presents are not obscure and obsolete, they are not discrete. The coat hanger has carried its histories of closet secrecy and traumatised darkness, and clothes as deceit and ruse, into the twenty first century on bent wire more pure and elegant than an algorithm, jangling automatically in the night, the very thought of which, cold against the skin, weaponised with spite, the data file cannot begin to fortell or describe. This domain of simple things contains the complex possibility that we harbour forms that are not our own; fragments, scruples, traits, both personal and cultural, historic and mythological, that appear and disappear through generations, in gestures and contradictions that govern our lives and bring us inexplicable anxiety.
Julia Maddison’s work is a drawing together of the threads and shapes that have found form through her accrued materials and ontologial indices. Her shaping of thought configures a lexicon where each thing in turn, each object, stitch, each shade, of colour or memory is a cipher too, a lantern shaft onto latent carried truths. By no means a grimoire, Maddison takes the needle of her artists eye and runs it through a series of familiar satellites and captured memories past and present, and weaves them into a tangible wraithe of time that might otherwise have slipped through our fingers, and which we may crumble to dust should we desire. Julian Firth, September 2017
Link to Herrick Gallery for further images including those by Julia Maddison: http://www.herrickgallery.com/mostlovedmostfar
Comments on the exhibition by Julian Firth:
MOST LOVED MOST FAR. Herrick Gallery 93 Piccadilly, W1. With Julia Maddison and Kate Walters.
The Herrick Gallery is a two floor walk in, on street level, naturally-lit and cube smooth, and below stairs, rendered and subterranean, shadows of pedestrians flickering through the tiny misted skylight The gallery is home presently to two very separate strands of thought visible as form. Above, a flock of eloquent watercolours move around the walls baring a disparate series of shapes, female, baby, horse wing delta, vessel, except that if instead of imposing my intent I allow them into my thinkingness, the flock murmurate and form a whole within, and I am embraced and held, by feathers and blood, by my birth, by my anxiety, by the loss of being at all, by all these things – Kate Walters images are the compound of dreams, of thoughts before they are lost as words, but they are one, as much as they are many. So too, should you decide to descend into the pools of light that brighten the space downstairs. Installations can be grim and directive but here Julia has chosen with delicate intimacy a number of signs and shapes and shadows left to describe and form the trauma of bereavement into a series of remains held into the light, to question and still celebrate, not in an archive, but in a series of recreated momentos that while asking herself and us about birth and home and mother and love, also affirm that these elements are of her, are contained and therefore do not define or deny her determination. Both artists present work in a series of separate pieces that are also whole states of mind, and these two in turn weave around one another, above and below, but go slow, go slow, allow them in, this construction has a consciousness that it will not reveal to those in a rush. On until October 28th.
I’ve decided to have a studio sale to make space for new work. I’ve cleared out my plans chest at home so there are lots of drawings, many wrapped unframed drawings and monotypes, catalogues and cards, and some unframed paintings too.
There are also some framed works which I love but which I have had around for me too long – and they need to go out into the world!
Works made on Iona, with Marc Almond (for his album Velvet Trail), and work inspired by travels in Italy will be for sale, as well as many experimental pieces. I’m also going to sell some of my many art books.
My studio is no. 6, Trewarveneth Studios, Trewarveneth Street, Newlyn, TR18 5JQ. It’s best to park near Newlyn Harbour and walk up from there.
I’ll be opening from noon – 5 pm on both Friday 13th and Saturday 14th October, with prompt closing times. I’ll also be open on Thursday 12th from 2 – 5 if the other days are not suitable. Or by appointment – message me on Facebook or Instagram.