Originally from South Africa, Katy grew up in London before studying her foundation course at Leeds and then a degree in New York. She’d always been drawn to illustration due to its free and unapologetic nature, “you can make up whatever you want and tell any story,” she tells It’s Nice That.
While studying, Katy found she was pushing her illustrations into 3D; experimenting with paper cutting, bookmaking and textiles. But by her final term of university she felt frustrated with most mediums and then discovered ceramics. She created the series David and Goliatha: “It was a story about a small little man who becomes obsessed with a very tall shapely sex worker (killing her in the end…)." After that, she was hooked.
Now, Katy’s illustrative style is wobbly and cheeky, poking fun at the crispness of traditional ceramics and stiffness of classical art. On where she finds inspiration, Katy admits: “I steal all the time! I reference a lot of Renaissance painting and copy the bodies and poses. Sometimes the way a head is tilted or the eyes are rolling back or the hand is fingering something – I would just never have thought of.”
In taking her pieces from start to finish, Katy always starts with her sketchbook, “I try to draw things as soon as I think of them because my memory is terrible,” she tells us. Often she jots down ideas in order to come back and formulate them later. Mixing traditional and contemporary tales, Katy uses Greek Mythology and Biblical stories alongside snippets from current news and culture. “I watch a lot of TV, I even love the adverts. So I like my art to replicate the bright and shiny quality,” she says.
For instance, in I Love You Josh, Katy couldn’t shake a news story out her head about a man who was killed by his pet snake, “It was decided that the snake hadn’t meant to kill him. I thought it was nice,” she says. Using comic panels in stark black and white, Katy re-envisioned the story into a new classic.
Recently Katy was invited to Venice for a residency at Alma Zevi Gallery. As usual, she looked to the old masters for inspiration – something she was spoilt for choice with in Venice. Upon exploring the city, she quickly became captivated by how the Venetians presented food. She wanted to use this co-existence of gourmet and grotesque in her work, after realising that: “food, as a subject, is a really satisfying way of exploring the line between beauty and disgust.”
Moving her work into new realms, Katy now moulds clay clams and sliced hams to make shiny saliva-inducing ceramics, “the physical shapes and glossy finishes gave me a whole new way of telling my stories,” she says. Now preparing for her first solo show, Price Choppers (at Alma Zevi from 14 March – 18 April 2020), Katy will keep cooking up her pieces into 2020 for her spring exhibition.