Hello, I’m Katie!
Thank you for stopping by to visit my little corner of the online world.
The early years of my life were what I considered to be fairly idyllic; sunshine-filled days were spent growing up in a tiny farming town in Zimbabwe (once known as the breadbasket of Africa). This outdoors – based childhood translated into the passion for nature and gardening that I now have as an adult.
In 2001 our quiet lives were upturned with the political unrest and resulting violence following the Zimbabwe government’s land redistribution program. Our day-to-day lives became marked with fear and uncertainty as several of the local farmers were murdered and their farms re-possessed. It was against this background that my parents made the decision to move our family (myself and two younger sisters) to Western Australia, to bravely start a new life in the sunny seaside city of Perth. I was 12 when we arrived Down Under with little more to our names than what we could pack into our suitcases.
The ensuing years were a huge culture shock as we attempted to adapt to life in a strange country, whilst simultaneously grieving the family and the home we had left behind. Looking back, I can see that throwing myself into my academic studies was a way of coping through that time, with both the Arts and Literature as well as Maths and Science emerging as equally enjoyable subjects to which I could apply myself. Unfortunately this unusual passion for both analytical and creative endeavours meant that choosing a definitive career or university study path was no easy task (those left-brain, right-brain personality quizzes were frustratingly unhelpful!) and therefore I did what many fresh-faced and uncertain graduates had done before me; I took a gap year.
Life has a wonderful way of taking us down paths we would never have imagined for ourselves, and that gap year turned into an opportunity to paint several large-scale murals for a local business, which then led me to study Theatre Design at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). At this point you may be wondering how I ever became an accountant in the first place, but did I mention my penchant for logic and practicality? Because, fast forward a year, and that’s the side of me that decided the intensive hours and stress I was pouring into theatre design would yield a better return (in terms of job prospects) if they were applied to something more mainstream. Perhaps a Business Degree?
It’s no surprise that studying Business yielded the stable job I was after; working as an accountant at a mid-tier firm in the city. But things don’t always go the way we expect or plan for them to, and as you already know, I found myself taking a leap of faith from corporate to creative in 2016. I share the details of that story in my first blog post: Navigating A Career Change: From Accountant to Artist, in response to the many questions I’ve been asked on that topic in the last couple of years.
My life now consists of a much gentler rhythm than a few years ago. Alongside working part time as coordinator at a local community gallery, my days are mostly spent sourcing, arranging, photographing and drawing beautiful things in my home studio with my tiny dog Charlie for company. Most recently I’ve been asking myself what is at the heart of the work I do? What is the central theme and the driving force behind my art and the thing I keep coming back to time and again, in some form or another?
In answer to all of this, I can’t deny the over-arching importance of beauty in my life, and how that plays out in my concept of home and family. I know many artists scoff at work that is too ‘pretty’ or ‘decorative’ or not imbued with a convoluted concept, but beauty is not a shallow thing to me; instead it points to my most treasured memories, to special people who have since passed away, to a time in my life that was simpler and happier, to a childhood home that was lost. At its core, my creative work is an attempt to lay hold of and reclaim the contents of those elusive memories, and to in some way, recreate a reference to them in the concrete world of today. There’s an undeniable grief involved in that and a continual searching and desire to memorialise what was and is no longer. I think that nostalgic yearning resides in all of us to some extent.
Here’s to searching and exploring together,