Since 2019 MaterialDriven has been working alongside Goodfellow and the art collective Transition on a series of initiatives aimed at exploring the role of materials in art and design. Materiality is one such initiative–an exciting exhibition that will open March 2021 ( Covid-19 permitting!) at the Oxo Tower in London’s Southbank. As the name hints to, the focus will continue to be placed on materials, with each of the artists of the Transition collective presenting their work and material explorations, reflected across disciplines such as textiles, glass, metal and ceramics.
In the months preceding the exhibition, MaterialDriven will share unique insights into each artist from the Transition collective–their process, material media, and influences– giving readers a glimpse of the beautiful exhibition to come. This time, our spotlight falls on Kate Lucy Cottam, a textile artists whose work is all about colour and visual perception.
Kate is a UK based textile artist and designer who specialises in hand weaving. She graduated from Falmouth University in 2013 with a BA in Textile Design and went on to study a Masters in 2017 at UCA Farnham. While in her last year at Falmouth, Kate won the Bradford Textile society 1st prize Clothworkers’ foundation award for a woven fabric. Since graduating, Kate has worked as a freelance woven textile designer, establishing a connection with local community arts and craft organisations, as well as becoming a member of the art collective Transition.
Kate’s woven collections and one-off pieces are delicate and intricate; they encompass mood and narrative through use of colour, structure and choice of yarn. Kate artistic expression explores woven textiles and paper weaving as a means to investigate colour with the aim to evoke a sensitive kind of seeing through this medium. She strives to create an outcome that is ambiguous in nature; one that allows the viewer to negotiate and discover a personal happening on the visual senses. This intuitive connection to her work is achieved through the skilled use of fine textile fibres and subtle weave structures that react to light changes and create atmospheric nuance.
The themes Kate explores within her textile and woven practice are reflected in her select choice of materials. She likes to try new materials and often investigates specialist yarns to include in her work, although she has a set of ‘base’ yarns that are a constant in her pieces, such as fine silk filament yarns, reflective yarns and hand dyed, or painted yarns woven in subtle single and multilayered structures. Kate is often drawn to the lightest of yarns, enabling her to almost suspend a moment in time simply with the use of colour. Her use of filament allows the colour to magically float in the air, catching the light from different angles and generating a visual response from the viewer.
Kate investigates how cloth can become something visual, how it can appear different depending on the time of day or type of light or where the viewer stands by playing with reflecting light and casting shadows. The fragile quality of her work aims to enhance the viewers experience of it – one can physically see the craftsmanship, the working of the warp and weft and subtle use of dye adds to the experience of a textile collection of art work.
She draws inspiration from a wide pool but Kate is mainly interested in how we see and view art, craft and colour and translates this into her abstract hand painted woven textile pieces. In particular, she is increasingly interested in the visual representation of the fragility of memory. Abstract Expressionist and Colour Field painters such as Helen Frankenthaler and Rothko have been a clear influence in her work, inspired by the vast swaths of colour used in their pieces, and that are said to be a ‘simple expression of complex thought.’
Keep an eye out for more information on the Transition exhibition expected to take place in March 2021 at Oxo Gallery in the London Southbank, where you will be able to see Kate Cottam´s work as well as the pieces by the rest of the Transition members.
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