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Art Works: Kathryn Rose

14 October 15 words: Art Works
A local artist tells us of the creative process behind her collection of textile creatures
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Menagerie

My creations tend to be animals – I miss being surrounded by them growing up. When I was a child, there was always a new animal being born, but there was always one dying as well. Perhaps that’s where the dark humour in my work comes from – the idea that life is fleeting, yet we all get hung up on questions like, “What is socially acceptable?”

My mother is currently breeding chickens to try and produce pink egg shells, having already bred green egg-laying chickens. I love the idea of a chicken producing green eggs through human initiative rather than natural creation. It’s the blurring of lines between reality and fabrication; the naturally uncanny. Life is perceived as glorious and precious but ultimately, we all have an expiration date. The creatures I create cannot die.

Making is an escapism for me. I create pieces which make me happy, rather than with some huge meaning or to try to please university tutors. I like making things you wouldn’t expect to see in a gallery setting. My latest piece, Menagerie, is a herd of hand-crafted textile creatures that I’ve exhibited at Malt Cross, Bonington Studios and Park Garden Trails. Comprising of a panda, sloth, fox, hedgehogs and birds, the collection was created this year in the final year of studying fine art at Nottingham Trent University.
 

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It took around four months to create, using a variety of materials and techniques. The panda has a steel-welded frame with upholstery webbing stretched across it, wrapped in stuffing. I carved the head from foam, added a movable steel jaw and covered it in a piece of white faux fur, adding detail using an airbrush. I use repurposed material in my work – any scraps of material I find lying around will end up as part of an animal. Even the hedgehogs are made from charity shop wigs.  

I love the childlike inquisitiveness the collection creates, especially the panda. My favourite reaction has to be when it was on show at the Park Garden Trails – a dog saw it and backed off barking, thinking it was real. Hilarious. The panda is also a seat, so everyone wants to have a ride on it and get a photo for Facebook can.

I’ve just started an MA in Textile Design to continue my craft. To fund this, I sell smaller pieces like sloths, drawings, animal portraits and felted pet portraits. Given the luxury of time and money, I would love to make a lifesize elephant from hand-dyed canvas and leather, though who knows what I will create next.

Kathryn Rose Art

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