For the British artist Kate Walters painting is a shamanic experience that emerges from deep from the collective feminine unconscious. Like a shaman, she plumbs the depths of the psyche to tap into the source of the most archaic human imagery so as to render it anew for the contemporary world. If Walters lists the artists Joseph Beuys and Bracha Ettinger, alongside the Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz as her influences, it is because her paintings continue in their steps and add to their legacy.
Walters is particularly interested in the recovery of the sacred feminine principle. She believes that the masculine warrior culture has coopted femininity, disrupting natural balance. Her delicate yet powerful watercolors work to restore this balance. To this end, paintings like Mother on Tree with Bird and Deep Space with Infant refer to organic shapes, the female body in its connection to nature, fertility, cyclical time, and life and death processes. In the words of Dr. Richard Davey, Walters’ paintings are “vehicles through which we are pulled into formlessness,” “encounters with the ephemeral,” and depicting the body as “free of physical constraints, floating in interconnected communion with the universe.”
EXHIBITION DATES 20 October – 3 November
GALLERY OPENING HOURS Thurs-Sun 12pm – 5pm
OPENING PARTY Friday 19 October 6pm – 8.30pm
Gen Doy performance 7.30pm
The Ghost Tide – coinciding with the festivals of Hallowe’en, All Souls and the Day of the Dead – takes as its starting point the perspective that ghosts exist as an idea, or as part of a belief system, across cultures, across national borders and throughout recorded history. Most languages contain words to describe the ghost, spirit or immaterial part of a deceased person. Often, these words – like the type of ghost they describe – have traversed borders and been assimilated across cultures.
The exhibition, situated next to the Thames Barrier in South-East London, evokes ghosts as a migratory tide, washed up along the shore of the Thames their historical baggage in tow. It also explores the presence of artists in this part of London, as a migratory tide of creative flotsam and jetsam which ebbs and flows as the city gentrifies and develops.
Featured works include sculpture, installation, film, sound, performance and wall based works. The exhibition will include installations and outdoor interventions, as well as public events. The Ghost Tide features works by over 30 UK and international artists.
Artists featured: Andrea G Artz, Chris Boyd, Davies, Monaghan & Klein, Gen Doy, Sarah Doyle, Graham Dunning, Diane Eagles, Andrew Ekins, Charlie Fox, Katie Goodwin, Kio Griffith, Miyuki Kasahara, Calum F Kerr, Rob La Frenais, David Leapman, Liane Lang, Toby MacLennan, Laura Marker, Joanna McCormick, Josie McCoy, Jane Millar, Output Arts, Miroslav Pomichal, Brothers Quay, Anne Robinson, Edwin Rostron, Matt Rowe, Sarah Sparkes, Charlotte Squire, Sara Trillo, Yun Ting Tsai, Kate Walters, Patrick White, Heidi Wigmore, Neale Willis, Mary Yacoob, Neda Zarfsaz.
About the Curators: Monika Bobinska is the director of CANAL, which organizes exhibitions and art projects in a variety of settings. She is the founder of the North Devon Artist Residency. Sarah Sparkes is an artist and curator. She leads the visual arts and creative research project GHost (initiated in 2008), curating an on-going programme of exhibitions, performances and inter-disciplinary seminars interrogating the idea of the ghost.
CURATORS’ TALK Saturday 20 October 3pm – 4pm
DAY OF THE DEAD CLOSING PARTY Saturday 3 November 2pm – 7.30pm
Papel Picado Workshop 2pm – 5pm Make your own Day of the Dead ‘cut – outs’ with artist Sarah Doyle. Suitable for all ages, materials provided
Performances and Artist Led Walk 2pm – 5pm Charlie Fox, Calum F Kerr, Joanna Mccormick, in and around the gallery
Day Of The Dead Feast 5pm – 6pm Refreshments served
International Film Screening 6pm Screening of short films in the gallery: Chris Boyd, Liane Lang, Brothers Quay, Yun Ting Tsai and Neda Zarfsaz
I’ve had a productive Summer, with many lovely long days in my studio. I’ve been listening to music each day, especially by young counter-tenors Filippo Mineccia and Jakob Jozef Orlinski. The timbre of the music helps me to find the clarity I need to work well. Shetland continues to inspire me and I hope to return there before long.
I also realised I haven’t posted pictures of the show at Herrick Gallery last October. So here they are!
My work will soon be represented in New York which is very exciting news….
and I’ve an exhibition opening at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh on February 28th, 2019. The exhibition will host the launch of my new book, Shetland Notebooks.
Here are a few examples of new work…which is mostly on a larger scale…
After a long and hot drive via a swim at Charmouth (very hot car without air-conditioning!) and staying overnight with friends in Dorset, I arrived on the beautiful Romney Marsh. Even as you leave Rye something changes. It’s like stepping back in time: the roads narrow, become twisty; there are railway tracks with barely any gates; animals graze in mixed herds on flat land and there’s a painter’s sky. You glimpse fine churches with sloping roofs dating back over a thousand years; vegetables for sale beside the road, and a sense of mystery in the air. I was welcomed by Angie, Richard and Fred – and their very beautiful flowers – tall sentinels, silent songs….
I’d barely arrived when it was time to go to St. Nicholas Church in New Romney for a programme of music performed by voces8 and the Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir.
Driving down the motorway in the on the way I’d listened to Radio 3 and heard a marvellous piece sung by voces8 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b8bk8z )- I’d wept as I drove, thinking, ‘how on earth am I going to work tonight, to not cry?!’
I found myself a place to sit near the front, to one side, where I hoped to be unobtrusive. I was working with the sound of the music, rather than the visual aspect, at this stage. I found a little table and placed my watercolour sticks, oil pastels and sketchbooks within easy reach. It was important that I did not make a sound to disturb the performers or the audience – I was very mindful of this and felt that I hardly breathed during any of the performances!
Here are some notes I made during the concerts:
Angels are here, in the air moving down with the sound. Golden sound.
The song is made of colour.. mother folds it all in..
Magnificat brings halo and a great crown of many horns and foliage boughs
Moondance – a drawing of a golden child/chrysalis – power of music to liberate, to enhance movement towards individuation
Ave Maria – holding form, enclosing form, comfort; also bridge, all-seeing eye;
Dove: In beauty may I walk – orange band, vertical figures/strokes
Music forms a Spirit cloud above, impregnates the ear, is born in cells; I can make myself a safe ground in sound.
The human voice was prominent on this first evening. I felt a golden quality, a purity, a roundness, a bell-like resonance. The following day I sat in Angie and Richard’s lovely kitchen and began to work from my notes and my quick drawings. What emerged were watercolours in yellows and golds, exploring what happens to the cells of the body as the music is heard and absorbed. Listening to the music, feeling it tranforming the body, had the effect of instilling in me the feeling that I could create my own ground, a safe ground, through it’s transforming and purifying qualities. It’s like having every cell of one’s being stroked and restored.
I was also feeling that the music provided wings which could carry and support, like a marvellous etheric horse….or bird… or winged creature… like this moth, an elephant hawk moth, which I found one night in the house where I was staying…
The beautiful pink and greeny gold of its wings and fur inspired me to soften my palette. I am always influenced by the beauty of Nature which I find around me when I work; most mornings in Littlestone I walked and took in the beauty of the air, the squealing swifts, the red tower, the open beach, the grey-green sea foliage, the white dog, and the black horse…
was performed by the BBC Singers conducted by Michael Zaugg. It was remarkable. I was fortunate enough to hear some of the rehearsal, and I was struck by the intense ‘Russianness’ of the singing, and of the deep mood. I had a good position to one side, and I made a number of drawings and quite a few notes:
The force of the music pushing against my chest is explored through a series of quick drawings. The power and richness of the sound provides a body/earth-opening/splitting implement.
The song finds the earth’s navel, hollows it out, makes a nest. Has a round end like the tip of a colossal thigh bone resting in the earth’s newly made socket….
and the earth is opened by song; when the air itself sings it wraps the human form, makes it new.
Heart meets song; extends vision. Pierced by music. Makes me two;splits me in half (initiation).
Journeys into itself, bids us accompany.
Swift squeal in sky above. Purity.
Roof breast for/to sky
Roof as woman’s body
Sky drinks milk
the bones below
Flesh floats up
I think of the steppe, of tightness in the chest; waiting.
Hum, chatter, waiting for the deep, the song sea, the high, the bathing of spirit
– song as air become liquid to bathe the spirit.
We are sung into being.
this was a wonderful day in two churches – one in the fields, in the quiet, surrounded by tall stems and grasses and wind (St. Mary the Virgin church, St. Mary in the Marsh); the other in the atmospheric St. Leonard’s Church of Hythe, with it’s fine organ and Ossuary.
Drawings of Linda Nicholson (the brilliant keyboard player)becoming a raptor, a fierce focussed bird crouched over the keyboard as she plays.
Organ: reverberations cause the body fluids to move, to change, to flow: the body flows.
Music perceived as pink; pink substance imprinting the cells – music as doorway, the opener of the channels..two sequences coming together, as my dream of two separated poles winding together and apart at the same time, making a sequence of new animals on the greeny-blue gel which is moving between them…
Music as bridge over swimming souls.
The organ reaches out to me, wrapping air in gold
I rest in the flood and
Air bunches in prayer.
Notes as nodes in a net of sound
Rocking a baby
A safe father
Fatherly in a kind way
Different emotional qualities of voice and organ
Organ resonates deeply with the cells of my body: I sob.
On the last Saturday I worked with my ‘hollow bone’ technique, using my drum and monotype equipment, with people in Sussex and Kent who had booked to have a session with me. The work is sacred, powerful and confidential, so I will not write about any details here. Grahame Davies, the Welsh poet worked alongside me and contributed his own experiences to the participants. It worked very well.
On the last night in New Romney, I gave myself the treat of sitting in the front row, near the London Mozart Players. As I was so close I knew I couldn’t use anything wet. I also didn’t have a table, so I just worked with my notebooks and pencils, and this time, more in respnse to the movements of the conductor than to the way the music affected me. Daniel Cook contains a lot of energetic charge in his body when he conducts, and it was a great pleasure to draw him – but I had to be very quick! I also made a few drawings of a fine young soloist from the Mousai Singers.
Faure: Daniel Cook – wing pressing on ear – this is where I spent the time concentrating on the movements of individual bodies in response to music.
Mantas’ Serenade for Strings: the notes are crying; like a carpet for sleeping; the music strokes my arms (I wrote these words before reading about the music and its’ inspiration/dedication)
On the final day there was an exhibition of works in progress, and in the afternoon Grahame and I gave a talk about creativity, inspiration, and dreams. Grahame read aloud some of his poems, and I spoke about a few of the works I’d made, and about the process of working alongside classical music.
On my way home I stayed near Eastbourne and I caught the train to London – so I could go to the Queens’ Gallery to see the exhibition of Mughal Paintings – I’m a big fan! and it didn’t disappoint…
and I was entranced by the golden lilies in my aunt’s garden…
which continued the golden theme…and then there was West Bay in Dorset…
and finally another reminder of beloved Shetland… a fish box seen by the harbour at West Bay…
Iona workshop details planned for October 7th – 11th 2019.
The Iona workshop, the Way of Beauty, will be held at Iona hostel, an award winning hostel with bunk bed accommodation in rooms of 3, 4, 5, or 6 beds.
The course on Iona must have 9 participants to run, with a maximum of 12. I already have three confirmed participants.
It is a very beautiful holy Island with a great deal of history and natural beauty. It is a ‘thin’ place where your dreams and vision are likely to be enhanced.
The price is £550 per participant, which will include teaching/workshop work from 10 am – 3/4pm daily, with a short break for resting/individual work in the late afternoon or after lunch, then evening work after dinner from around 7.30 – 9.30pm. We’d arrive anytime after 2 pm on Monday October 7th (gathering for tea/introductions at 4pm), and stay there until the morning of Friday 11th October (leaving by 11am).
The workshop will focus on beauty and will include drawing, writing, painting, walking, dreaming, shamanic journeying (for those who would like it) with drumming and guidance, night/evening walks, elemental work, laughter, and time for solitude. The Island is not large or hilly so the walking is not too demanding or ever very far (although it is around 1 km+ from the jetty to the hostel on a single track level road).
This time we will bring our own food or buy from the Island shop, and either cook for ourselves or share meals/food preparation – keeping it simple.
Travel to Iona is quite easy. Train or coach to Glasgow then Oban, then ferry to Mull, bus to Fionnphort, then ferry to Iona, then walk….
By car you drive to Fionnphort (by ferry from Oban first) then park in the free car park which is 5 mins walk away from the ferry to Iona.
Combining this workshop with a little tour of Mull would make a very good trip…Mull has a very varied landscape and is very beautiful.
If you would like to book a place on this workshop please email me your confirmation ( email@example.com), and I will send you details for payment of the deposit.
Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon. Do email me with any queries…feedback below on this blog – post October 2016.
Be a gardener Dig a ditch toil and sweat and turn the earth upside down and seek the deepness and water the plants in time. Continue this labor and make sweet floods to run and noble and abundant fruits to spring. Julian of Norwich
I’ve had a lovely weekend working in the garden with all the dozens of plantlets I’ve raised from seed. It’s been great to be out in the sunshine, with bare skin, the scent of soil and lily of the valley and honeysuckle, and the chorussing of sparrows and wrens. One of my special morning rituals this time of year is to take my breakfast outside into the greenhouse to watch my baby plants growing….I just stand there, being attentive, watching over them.
I’ve resumed my long-term residency at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, and each time I visit, I love the garden more. Last week I spent time sitting near a tree doorway for jackdaws, who were raising young. I wrote notes and edited my writing from the past three years, hoping to make a book about my time in the garden to coincide with my exhibition in the gallery there in September 2019. I will be posting some images soon. For the moment they are gestating.
I’ve been enjoying working in series on pieces considering ancestors, how we carry traces of them in our bodies, and where energetic buds for the memory of them can be held in our bodies. These works will be shown at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh in March 2019 – when my new book the Shetland Notebooks will be launched.
Girl with own piece of ground
Infant with ancestor buds (part of a sequence, studio phone shot only)
I’m looking forwards hugely to the Panel Discussion on May 21st organised by Trewarveneth Studios, and featuring Professor Penny Florence and Dr. Ryya Bread. The discussion will explore Creativity and Openness. This event is kindly hosted by Newlyn Art Gallery, and will be part of Open Studios.
There are more details on our Facebook event feature. https://www.facebook.com/events/252956245271789/
I’m also listening to music in a more focused way, preparing for my residency with Jam on the Marsh in July, when I will tune into the music as it is played in the churches, and I will write and draw on site.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org 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.