Women in Art; An Interview with Kathryn Carter

Posted by Fiona Cable on

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice as an artist.

I am a landscape painter based at Railway St. Studios. I draw and paint the landscapes of Northland and Auckland in inks on paper, and oils on board and canvas. I am drawn to the change of light through the day and seasons and how it transforms the landscape.

2. What challenges have you faced as a woman working in the arts?

The arts in general in NZ aren’t well funded compared to sport, so you have to make your own way really. I have found that having completed a masters in architecture and being a registered architect has helped me formulate my world view intellectually and helped me be critical of my thinking; I am not afraid of robust discussion and I think that you need that as an artist, to not be afraid and to work hard.

3. What advantages has it given you?

I am possibly stronger in my thinking now than I was in my 20s because I have learnt a framework of reference that puts my experiences into a meaningful context.

When I was younger I hadn’t really lived and you kind of have to let yourself live in order to know how you think about the world and your art, in terms of what it is you want to say.

We had strong critiques at University so you have to be able to define and defend your thinking or your audience won’t believe in your ideas or work, and that can take time to develop in terms of years.

4. Who are your female art world muses?

I would say that I admire Helen Frankenthaler as an expressionist and colourist, Frida Khalo for her passion and desire to overcome a difficult pain filled life. Gretchen Albrecht for her scale of work and use of expressive colour fields and Frances Hodgkins for her independence and bravery travelling to paint at a time when women struggled to.

I also admire women poets and writers - Sylvia Plath, Janet Frame, Katherine Mansfield, Iris Murdoch and the Bronte sisters for their observations of human nature.   

5. What draws you to the topics you explore in your art?

I had the pleasure of having Pat Hanly and Claudia Pond Eyley as drawing tutors at Auckland Architecture School and they taught me how to work hard and to keep drawing and look closely at what you see.

6. How do you think the art world has evolved in its behaviour towards women artists since you started marking art to today?

The art world is surprising; it can be very oppressive in some ways because you feel like a small fish in a huge world pond however sometimes it’s good to be a small fish because you can get on with doing what you want to do with freedom. To be noticed is a good thing but it’s not always desirable because it can confine your work to what people want and you have to ignore that in order to develop as an artist.

Social media is good from the point of view of reaching people but not all people appreciate art so it can be tricky to teach and reach the right audience. I think depression and elation are part of the journey too. You have to keep going no matter what the world thinks.

7. Are there any changes that you still want to see happen?

I think the world has to value true creative thinkers more, artists are a valuable part of the world of ideas, exploring our culture, history and issues. The contemporary thoughts of young thinkers are critical to that as well as older thinkers because of the perspectives they bring to the visual table of thought, as part of the record of what is happening now.

For me the landscape is part of that discussion - it’s sustainability, it’s wilderness and what it means to us as New Zealanders in the global context of concerns for its healthy endurance and presence beyond our lifetimes.

to view Carter's work click here

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