CPiC (Contemporary Practice in Context): Introduction

Who is Kathryn Walker?

She’s an 18-year-old just stepping out into the world. Almost everyone has the “I’ve wanted to be ‘x’ since I was a child!” story, but for me it took me a while to settle into what I wanted to be for certain, changing on a whim as a kid from journalist to archeologist, to author, to scientist, as different things interested me at school. It was only when I was around 12 that I found a passionate interest in reading manga, especially because school friends also liked the same things, and I became more and more interested in being an artist.

My dad is a comic & fantasy artist, my mum originally trained as an interior designer, and a lot of the rest of my family are creative in one way or another, so I’ve always been around a range of artistic influences in my day-to-day life. I grew up with prints of Klimt, Waterhouse and other Pre-Raphaelites around the house, bronze statues and art nouveau, as well as my dad’s paintings, a decorated and well-designed home, and a whole lot of books – and all of this has shaped the style of art that I like. Even if I don’t work on grand oil paintings, or delicate watercolours, I still adore this kind of artwork, what I have come to find out in the first few weeks of university would be considered Pre-Modern, or early Modern. For me, I think working among Post-Modern art will be difficult, but I am still really interested and willing to learn, even if my knowledge of current artists is limited (but ‘contemporary art’ in my mind covers the past one hundred years at least anyway!)

I wanted to be exclusively a manga artist for a really long time, and found it incredibly frustrating that I hadn’t been born on a completely different continent! But I’m supposed to be here and now, so I allowed myself to move into different ways of working in GCSE and then broke even further into a range of media in A-level. I’ve always struggled with having confidence in my work, because it can’t be as clearly defined or marked as other school subjects, but A-level helped with that because of the quality and amount of care my teacher put into nurturing and pushing everyone. I’ve always been good at school, and like structure, but I know the adult world doesn’t always work that way, so I want to become an independent practicing artist that makes their own structure, and want to work hard in university for me as an individual rather than just the grade.

(But a first would be nice!)

My favourite artists and influences are many and varied, including Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, John William Waterhouse, Alberto Giacometti, Edgar Degas, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper… the list could go on and I’ve probably forgotten many. I love contemporary comic artists like James Jean and Bryan Lee O’Malley among others, and many graphic-novelists. Periods of art history/art movements that interest me include traditional Japanese ukiyo-e, Communist and Fascist art and propaganda particularly that of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany (I studied modern history for GCSE and A-level), Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and the Pre-Raphelites.


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