Kate McCarthy

By Claire van Ryn
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Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I'm primarily a painter and sculptor, working with acrylic, oils and collage and soft-sculpted embroidery. I hold workshops to reconnect artists as well as people who have no previous art-making experience with the joy of creating without fear of criticism.

How would you describe your work?
It's hard to name it, but it's heavily influenced by the pop culture of our generation's childhood. It's ultra-flat and naive. The creatures, I think, are stuffed toys who have dressed themselves up. I've always lost myself in the world of children's television, even now, so I can see a lot of that in the works.

Tell us about your use of different mediums.
The works are the polar opposite to realism... I celebrate the actual medium as the work itself. I keep every single lump and drip. I use photos of older works and digitally print them onto fabric, then sew the pieces to the new canvasses, as well as embroidery thread. The soft sculptures have embroidery using thread that is sometimes special to me – for the last series in Chicago I used thread that my friend had given me – she'd collected it over the years of her practice and it was from an iconic Hobart store. So when I see those colours, I know how special they are.

You're not afraid of bold hues! What's your relationship with colour?
Colour is an escape from the drudgery of the everyday. I can just about swim in the colours I'm laying down as I do them. I think being with the colour is a kind of mindfulness.

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What bits of you can we see in your work?
Absolutely the entire lot! When you see any symbols on the works, they reference things from my past. But the works are for the audience too, and I like to think they can project their own special meanings onto the symbols and colours.

What exciting things are on the horizon for you?
I’ve been creating my next series for a solo show at Penny Contemporary in Hobart – it's a mix of paintings and thread/textile pieces on wood, a tiny 10cm x 10cm x 3cm. The show starts this month (February). I'm also facilitating workshops held in Singapore in later this year and, of course, here in Hobart!

How does this island state you call home influence you?
It's so full of comfort and calm. I feel very safe here and it's so exciting that it's become the artists' state. And, very importantly, there are so many animals!