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NTU Sustainability in Enterprise

Kate Walters Exhibition

6 May 09 words: Frances Ashton
What they'll never see: Drawings for my parents by Kate Walters

Blood Angel with Infant, watercolour drawing by Kate Walters


Inside the surface gallery there is an explosion of red. Red is raw, red is intense, red associates with blood, red associates with fear, anger, passion, love. Red is reminiscent of Rothko’s series of red paintings assuming a meditative glow. This is not to say that Kate Walter’s collection of drawings in this exhibition is automatically about all these things, yet I feel her drawings are reflective of these things. Overall the use of red in is this exhibition is emotive, delicate and powerful.

It is not only the use of colour in this exhibition that draws the viewer in. The style and brush marks in the paintings are explorative, soft and harsh, figurative and ethereal, seemingly splashes of colour against lines of hidden detail. Faces, figures, actions, motions. These paintings appear to go much deeper than a splash of watercolour; they seem to speak from the subconscious, existing in a dream like state. At once both beautiful and terrifying, figures take form of humans and animals within the paintings, sometimes an interchanging between the two. The paintings to me seem to explore relationships and emotions, and the fragile link between the two, the things that we keep inside ourselves. This is immediately suggested in the title of the exhibition. The viewer may wonder about the artist’s relationship with her parents and why they will never view her work. It soon becomes apparent both Kate’s parents have died, and from this her work takes on another stance.

Man with grief behind him, watercolour drawing by Kate Walter

A series of three paintings that capture my attention and fill one wall in the exhibition, ‘ Man with grief behind him’, ‘Old age’ and ‘First breath, last breath’, seem to be some of the drawings most clearly associated with loss and grief. There is a sense of weight and balance in Kate’s paintings that can be particularly noticed within these three. ‘ Man with grief behind him’ seems to express the weight of a grief which a person might carry, the feeling of a looming sadness which although exists only emotionally is as strongly present as a physical object. Meanwhile the delicate marks of colour made in ‘First breath, last breath’ beautifully capture the fragile existence of life. A figure almost dangles within the space of ‘Old age’. There is a sense of presence but also weightlessness, a relationship between flesh and spirit, of coming towards the end of life and hanging in a sort of balance between two worlds.


Over thirty paintings fill the white walled space of the Surface Gallery. For me the paintings work like a series, almost moving in the time of dream sequence. The majority of paintings are on paper and mounted in white and framed. The newest of the collection, marked as late as April 09, hang on the wall space, supported by bulldog clips, fresh and raw. Towards the rear end on the gallery a few of Kate’s older pieces hang. These pieces do feel a little separate from the others, perhaps a reason for their position in the exhibition. Their style, colour and medium, differs only slightly to the others. Yet their apparent emotional charge links all paintings in the exhibition. It becomes evident that these painting are perhaps a starting point at which the others developed.

What they’ll never see: Drawings for my parents was an exhibition of drawings in watercolour by Kate Walters at the Surface Gallery from Monday 20 April – Friday 1 May 2009.

Front page image: Winged Dog, watercolour drawing by Kate Walter

The Surface Gallery, 16 Southwell Road, Sneinton, Nottingham NG1 1DL. Open Tues - Fri 12-6pm and Sat 11-5pm.


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