Kate Downie

A journey through a resonant life

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Kate Downie

SCOTTISH artist Kate Downie enthralled an audience of digital art students at UWS Ayr when she delivered a talk on her experiences working in Beijing with Chinese ink painting masters.

Her talk, titled A Walk Through Resonant Landscapes, was a rich account of her visits during 2010-2012 from which she produced an exhibition of large scale scroll ink paintings.

She illustrated her talk with a series of photographs which showed her at work and in the streets of Chinese villages, often surrounded by crowds of fascinated locals.

One particular photograph showed a young girl absorbed in the artist's work. Another showed the resultant work – featuring the same girl as a central character.

Kate, who became a member of the RSA in 2008, fulfilled her trips to Beijing and Sanghai as a result of being awarded the RSA William Gillies Bequest. The chance to make the trips was welcomed with relish by the graduate of Aberdeen School of Art who has lived and worked in Amsterdam, Paris and New York. She said: “I have always loved Chinese ink paintings and this opportunity to work with the masters was incredible."

This year is shaping up to be just as thrilling for Kate, who was born in the US of a Scottish father and English mother.

She is to be Artist in Residence at the Forth Road Bridge, an appointment marking the 50th anniversary of the iconic structure.

“I have been granted access to all parts of the bridge," she said, “and will be aiming to produce around 50 works to represent the bridge."

The artist, whose work often elevates the mundane to the level of the extraordinary, told her student audience: “It's amazing how much culture you can learn by looking in very ordinary places." She added: “I decided to become an artist when I was five. I am 55 now." And offering a small slice of her own philosophy she said: “What's the point of being an artist if you can't control the path through your own life?"

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