As interior design experts here at Fishpools, we are constantly driven to enhance our craft. This research has lead us to look at creativity as a broader concept, how it manifests itself in other professions and the ways in which these different creative fields are all connected. In our Portrait of a Creative Mind series, we reach out to different individuals and ask them questions about creativity as part of our on-going research into this fascinating subject.
Today we’re talking with local artist Kate Willows, a sculptor, printmaker and painter based in North London. Her work is all about getting to the essence of life and seeking to create work which makes a connection and resonates with the viewer in some way.
She has had her work selected for a number of exhibitions, including the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation Drawing Exhibition 2011, The Royal Society of Miniature Painters Sculptors and Gravers 2012, the Artsdepot Open 2009, 2012 and 2015, the Printmakers Council 50th Anniversary Exhibition 2015 and the Royal Society of Marine Artists 2015.
We immediately connected with the incredible intricacy in her work – especially her clay sculptures – and we wanted to find out more about her process. We asked her a few questions about art, London, her dream home and more – read on to draw a portrait of this creative mind.
Holkham Bay by Kate Willows
First thing’s first: where do you live? How long have you lived there for?
I’m originally from North Norfolk and moved to London twenty four years ago. I’ve lived in North London for the past eighteen years and before that I lived in Notting Hill.
And how did you get started in your field?
After my second child was born, I took a career break from my work as a lawyer and rekindled my childhood interest in art. I took a foundation course at The Institute, which I completed in 2006 and then took further courses in printmaking and sculpture.
Would you say your interior style follows a theme, or is it more of a mix?
I would say it’s an eclectic mix! The overall theme, if there is one, is that the house should feel comfortable and welcoming. There’s plenty of art everywhere to provide visitors with visual entertainment.
What’s your favourite room in your house and why?
We have a sitting room at the back of the house which looks out onto the garden and the trees beyond. It’s very peaceful and has good natural light. There’s no television in the room, so it’s the perfect place to curl up with a really good book and cup of tea and escape the world.
Is there one piece of furniture you have always kept with you throughout your various moves?
We seem to have kept most things anyway, but one thing which I will definitely always keep is an old Arts and Crafts drinks cabinet. It came from a vintage furniture shop in Camden years ago. It’s full of strange liqueurs which no one drinks.
What would your dream house have?
I would love to have a house with an ancient walled kitchen garden, full of vegetables, fruit and herbs. There would also be a beautiful purpose built studio and I would have the only key.
How much of an influence do your surroundings/environment have on your work?
I work best in a relatively tidy, well-lit space, with no one else around and easy access to a kettle.
What piece of your work are you most proud of and why?
Possibly the work I am always most proud of is when I’ve completed a commission for a client – making a piece of work for its own sake is a fairly straightforward process, but it becomes more complex when taking into account a client’s specific requirements for a piece and making sure they are happy with the end result. One piece of work which I have returned to again and again recently is a print I made to celebrate The Printmakers Council’s 50th Anniversary last year. I made a linocut called “Fifty Shades…”, which features fifty pairs of famous sunglasses. That proved very popular, particularly for 50th birthday presents!
‘Fifty Shades…’ by Kate Willows
When you are feeling blocked creatively, what do you do?
I don’t often feel creatively blocked, but if I do, then I find the best thing is to sit down with a sketch pad and pencil and just jot down any ideas which spring to mind, or just doodle. It always leads somewhere…
Where do you seek out inspiration?
From anything and everything! I am a very visual person, so wherever I am, I’m always looking at my surroundings. I find ideas on the streets, on the tube, from the internet, from talking to people, from what I read, random thoughts and expressions, a snippet of conversation – the list is endless!
What’s your favourite place in London?
I absolutely love London and there are so many places I could choose as my favourite, but if I could only pick one, it would have to be the Victoria & Albert Museum. For me it’s a limitless treasure trove of extraordinarily beautiful things and a testament to all the skill, patience and knowledge of the craftspeople who made them. Every time I visit, I find something I have never seen before. And it’s near the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, so I can pop into those afterwards for more inspiration…
Image source: Matt Brown via Flickr Creative Commons
If you could invite three people – any three people, alive or dead – to Sunday lunch, who would they be?
My three would be Lucian Freud, David Bowie (of course!) and Iris Apfel. They have all led hugely varied and fascinating creative lives. I would just be there to serve the food, pour the wine and listen to their stories.
We look forward to seeing what you’ll make in the future, Kate!
Stay tuned for more instalments of our Portrait of a Creative Mind series – coming soon