Artist interview: Kate Dorrough - Art Collector

6 November 2012

Ceramicist and painter Kate Dorrough pauses before her upcoming Sydney solo exhibition to talk with Australian Art Collector about the idea of landscape and her development of a unique visual language.

Kate Dorrough, The Inland River, detail. Acrylic on linen, 168 x 152cm. Courtesy: the artist and Art House Gallery, Sydney

What is the appeal of working in both ceramics and painting? Do you have a preferred medium of the two?

For me, the appeal of working in both mediums simultaneously is the dialogue that evolves between them.

With ceramics, I enjoy the process of making the ceramic form using the materials of the earth. I also love the challenge of putting an image on the three-dimensional surface, a different surface and quality to canvas.

They very often inform each other: motifs that appear on the ceramics might well be re-inscribed on the paintings and vice-versa. I have no favourites – both mediums appeal to me equally.

Previous bodies of work have had a figurative, abstract style. How have your current landscape works evolved from this?

This show is not a departure so much as it is a continuing conversation, developing on from my last couple of shows. In my work there has been a gradual abstraction over the last few years and this approach seems to mesh well with my subject matter.

In years gone by I would explore a new subject matter with each new show. Now, what’s really exciting for me – and represents a real development for me as an artist – is that I have moved towards a subject matter which really resonates with me poetically and philosophically, and I feel that the subject has great potential for further examination with layers of meaning.

Above right: Kate Dorrough, Undercurrent. Stoneware ceramic with glaze, 41 x 55 x 28cm. Courtesy: the artist and Art House Gallery, Sydney

How have your residencies in regional Australia influenced your practice?

They have influenced me enormously. It’s an opportunity to be in that environment for a meaningful amount of time. It has a sense of the other.

Have any specific places inspired this body of work? What was so compelling about them?

The landscapes in my paintings are non-specific and are more about the ideas then the place. That said, my time spent at The Art Vault, Mildura, and observing the semi-arid landscape and the pivotal importance of the Murray River, has stayed with me.

You are currently based in Sydney. How has urban living influenced your relationship to the natural environment?

I live in Sydney’s inner-west (Marrickville) but have the fortunate experience of the remnants of the natural environment being on my doorstep when I walk along the Cook’s River most mornings. Inadvertently I have found the subject of The River has evolved in this new body of work.

Above: Kate Dorrough, River Bank. Stoneware ceramic with glaze, 36 x 53 x 31cm. Courtesy: the artist and Art House Gallery, Sydney

You have travelled extensively during your years of professional art practice, and have noted what inspiring and enriching experiences they have been. Do you have any future travelling plans?

Travel, through direct experience, makes the work more honest. I’m always open to travelling. I will be heading to a new part of Australia soon in preparation for my 2013 show in Melbourne. And in the future, I’d love to have a show at a regional gallery.

What kind of collectors do you think are drawn to your work?

Just as my own body of work has evolved and expanded, I would like to think that collectors of my work do as well. I think the collectors of my current show will be people who are interested in contemporary expressions of a time-honoured landscape tradition.

Kate Dorrough, Reflections on the River. Acrylic on linen, 210 x 168cm. Courtesy: the artist and Art House Gallery, Sydney

Which of your bodies of work to date has given you the most personal satisfaction?

They have all given me great satisfaction at the time. My work is a journey I am on, and a progression, in which I am developing my own language.

Alexandra Djurichkovic

Kate Dorrough's exhibition
The Enduring Landscape and the Inland River opens Wednesday 7 November at Art House Gallery in Sydney and continues until 24 November 2012.

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