Our artist of the month Kat Pugh talks about stitch drawing, making art for well-being, highlighting moments from a Parkinson’s dance class and getting inspired by Gershwin. Kat’s artwork is included in the ‘Envionments’ national show which is now open at Piano Nobile Kings Place in London’s Kings Cross.
Why did you start making art?
I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember, it just felt like an easier way of communicating, visually rather than verbally. I was always doing something creative, making things or gravitated towards being in creative environments. More recently I’ve been doing art for my own wellbeing and to draw attention to issues that I feel are important. Going back to do a foundation degree as a mature student exposed me to so many new forms of art I didn’t even know existed – like stitch drawing. It really gave me the time to explore new skills and reflect on why I make art.
How would you describe your pieces?
Mixed. I get a lot of ideas and like to work on multiple pieces at the same time. I never quite know what the outcome will be which is something I love. Last year I learned how to sew using free stitch and I was hooked so a lot of my recent work is stitch based. I also like combining my work with poetry as it adds another layer to the work.
Do you follow a set process or does it vary?
It really varies, it depends on what it is or who it’s for. I start with something that inspires or interests me and then do lots of research, followed by a bit of experimenting and then I just start creating pieces, usually by working from my own sketches or photographs. Most of my stitch work was created this way – it feels a bit like wild sketching – it’s intuitive and unpredictable. I also create a lot of experimental artwork for my own enjoyment, which is more spontaneous and material driven.
What inspires your work?
Lots of things. Currently I am really interested in how different art forms like music, singing, dance, poetry and visual arts influence people’s health and wellbeing. I like watching and documenting it, it’s beautiful. Like highlighting moments in a Parkinson’s dance class or exploring how music affects peoples memories and emotions. It just makes me reflect on why I make art. Also having a background in illustration I am also always drawn to people’s stories or narratives and the ocean.
Do you have any creative role models?
My mother – for being a fearless creative and taking risks! I can’t think of any specific names at this point but I am very inspired by artists that work across different disciplines. I guess any artist that creates meaningful work and draws attention to issues that matter in unique ways.
Do you think about an audience when you are making work? If so what do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I just want the viewer to feel something. I hope that they might gain a different perspective or learn something new. I start to think how others might relate to the work towards the end of making it but mainly its my own interpretation and feelings towards the subject. I hope it touches them in some way. I usually don’t have a particular audience in mind.
What has been the standout moment for you as an artist so far?
Whenever my work has been selected for exhibitions – so being selected for the Environments exhibition was a real highlight! Another standout moment was designing and running a workshop for the Outside In leading workshops course which involved creating collaborative art to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – it combined my three favorites: dance, jazz and art all in one!
Is there an artwork you are most proud of?
Probably my swimming stitch because a lot of people related to it and it’s personal. Doing a piece that’s autobiographical is really challenging and makes you feel somewhat exposed but it was very therapeutic. Another piece I am proud of is a large mural I painted with kids for their “under the sea” school play – it was completely unplanned but it turned out beautiful and it was incredibly fun!
What are your hopes for the future?
I want to grow and develop as an artist exploring other forms of art and increasing my technical skills. In general, I hope that more people recognize the importance of arts for wellbeing and that there is more focus on inclusivity within the art world.
Kat, reading about how your artwork Is inspirational. Your free-sticking captures the energy of each dancer and how they connect to each other. Seeing close ups of your fee stitching stimulates trying it out for oneself. Here’s to cross art form inspiration from music to dance and visual arts.