29 May 2011

Kate Smith, Gertrude Contemporary, Fitzroy


Jake Walker: When did you start making art?

Kate Smith: It was a pretty angsty start, It seemed to come together in year 8, I kissed my first boy, started hanging out in my room a hell of a lot, writing poetry, listening to Pearl Jam, burning candles, etc... I wasn't very good at drawing or painting, but also at that time we got an art teacher straight out of art school, who was not a nun, and taught us art could be everything so long as you said it was.

JW: Were did you grow up? What affect if any did that have on you path into an art practice?

KS:  I grew up on a farm in NSW and then finished my last two years of high school boarding in Sydney. It's uncomfortable to admit, but I think where I grew up has had a lot to do with my starting to make art, in a couple of different ways. I think originally my interest in art was really knee-jerk reactionary against the politics of where I was from. But also I think the manual, cobbling things together impatiently, tinkering out a solution with what you have at hand side of the farm has a lot to do with how I make things.
There was also an odd collection of paintings, pottery and sea shells hanging around the house from an old relative. And there is the influence of garden art rustica and ikebana arrangement - both I like for there huge and rough - un-female scales and their odd relationship with modernism.

JW:I didn't know you went to boarding school. My mother used to use it as a threat when my siblings and I behaved badly but it was never carried out. I have always admired people who have survived the experience.

Your studio is of my favorite type, that is somewhat chaotic, it feels like your work is growing organically in there. How does your physical space inform and influence your work? Do you have a painting farm?

KS:  we were made feel going away to school was a privilege....
Anyway, I'm kind of embarrassed about my studio. People are a shocked by it, or over compensate a bit and say its 'cool'. Anna Schwartz popped her head in once and said 'oh well, they say the greatest creativity comes from the greatest mess'... that's exactly the kind of cliche I'm worried about. The mess is not on purpose, it just is what it is, I guess when i get defensive about I think 'geeeez, all I ask is a little patch to just do what I want, is it really that shocking?', I guess I just make my self at home.

Work often gets made on the way looking for something 'where's the hammer,,, look at that little guy haven't painted on him for a while, needs orange, shit where the orange' etc etc . I think having a studio like this is costing me money I did a paint audit the other day and I've bought the same colours a few times. I guess I work in camps as well, mess a bit up, then move on, start again. The studio is not like the farm, its more left overs maybe than growth.

JW: Thanks Kate for the insight. I think your paintings a odd and spooky and pretty much everything arts supposed to be, so nice work and I look forward to seeing your first show at Sutton Gallery

Kate Smith is represented by Sutton Gallery