Featured Artist: Kate Collins

Kate Collins is a self-taught painter based in Stockport and is also an honary member of the Association of British Naïve Artists. She has been a member of MAFA for nearly 6 years and has been part of MAFA’s Council for several years. Being self-taught, Kate started painting as a child. Although she would have like to go to Art College, Kate decided to train as a dental nurse. It was not until she had the first of 3 children that she started to refocus on art.

Some of her first paintings were reproduced by Medici for their greetings cards in the 1970’s and for a time she worked as a freelance illustrator. She then began selling at a small gallery in Preston specialising in Naïve Art. It was there she had her first solo exhibition, which was televised, on North at Six. This was set-up with the help of Oldham-based artist Helen Bradley, who gave her a great amount of encouragement and advice. Helen Bradley persuaded Kate to move from illustrations into painting with oil.

When Kate’s children began school, she returned to nursing. She became a registered nurse and worked for the NHS for over 25 years but continue to create artwork. Over the years Kate has followed her own instincts experimenting in different techniques and materials. Her past work spans across different mediums from oil, ceramic sculptures, egg tempera paintings on canvas to hand painted bone china. She is a very prolific artist and is currently enjoying working in watercolour and acrylic.  

Kate explains that experimenting, using new techniques and materials is her way of keeping her work fresh and developing her practice. She enjoys a challenge and once she sets her mind on learning a new skill, works persistently until she has perfected it. She became curious about egg tempera painting after reading an article in an art magazine. Determined to have a go, she invited herself along to Rob Millikan’s studio in Nottingham to watch the process and with practice learnt how to master the technique. The advantages of working with egg tempera are that Kate is able to work in incredibly fine detail. However these paintings take over a year to fully dry and need careful handling to prevent scratching.

Kate believes that Naïve art is important as ‘I think art is about expressing yourself, just having a go and enjoying it. My subjects are children, people, animals, and anything which inspires me. The ideas I have stem mainly from life’s experiences, a love of the countryside and decorative objects which are incorporated in ceramic design and paintings of varied subjects.’

Kate has her own kiln and has also been painting on ceramics for the last 20 years, these pieces are particularly popular. ‘I first started painting fairy lustre landscapes. My inspiration is taken from Daisy Maikeig- Jones who designed the famous Wedgewood Fairyland ware produced in the 1930s. My ceramics are decorated with precious metal lustres and enamel.’

Each piece Kate creates is unique due to this hand painting technique. It is painted in a free flowing form and is built-up of different layers of colour and lustre glaze. Some of the pieces with exquisite touches of mother of pearl, and gold or platinum outlines. Each piece is created over several stages and sittings, and might take up to five firings before being completed.

Kate has found the lockdown challenging as she often people watches to get inspiration for her work. Limited contact and isolation has made this difficult. Her recent drawings have focused on observations as people have started to mix and make the most of the summer. Kate has a special ability to capture people’s mannerisms and create interesting perspectives. She loves drawing children because of their curiosity and free movement and often bases her drawings on her own grandchildren.

Currently Kate is exploring the possibility of creating a book of illustrations which would sit alongside poetry. She will also be exhibiting at the Dean Clough gallery in MAFA’s forthcoming exhibition All the Best at the end of October. You can find out more about Kate Collins and her artwork by viewing her artists profile or following her on instagram @kate_collinsart

Category: Featured Artist