We recently ran a small feature on artist Kate Thornton, the creator of some beautiful collages combining architecture, natural history, cartography and birds. Fascinated by her ability to perceive beauty in both nature and the man made, we decided to find out a little more…
Q: Nature is obviously a big influence on your designs. Where do you go when in need of some inspiration?
KT: I usually only have to look out of the window and I can spot various birds on the feeders we have out. If it’s a bit quiet then I just step out for a walk into the beautiful countryside in which we live near Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. Failing that I stick my head into one of the many bird books on the shelf.
Q: Birds have captured the imagination of writers, poets, artists and musicians for centuries. What is it about birds that inspires you and do you have any special observation spots?
KT: It’s really hard to explain the effect that watching birds has, they definitely evoke an emotional response in me, I get teary when the Swallows leave every year or if I spot a skein of geese heading out on their migration. A special ‘spotting’ spot for me is very close to where I live where there’s a lovely group of old oak trees close to a reservoir. Each year cuckoos arrive here and every year we go to this spot to look out for them and hear the distinctive call which is so rare now.
Q: Your work combines elements of the man-made city (architecture, maps etc.) with icons of the wild, natural world which I think reflects how a lot of us live today (e.g. working in the city and escaping to the country to breathe again). What does the relationship between the two mean to you and your work?
KT: Hmm, good question. I like the contrast of something very natural with the strong man-made image of buildings or maps, I can see beauty in both. You see these contrasts all the time when you look a little closer to what’s going on around you. Many birds live and thrive in the city but I think they represent nature and freedom, the ability to escape to fly away from it all.
Q: Modern life can often be hectic, time-draining and difficult to switch off from. How do you go about finding creative space?
KT: I switch off the computer in my studio and sit at my big work table surrounded by lots of different materials and have a play, something usually happens.
Q: What does happiness mean to you?
KT: Not worrying, I am a dreadful worrier.
You can find out more about Kate and her work (including links on how to order, details of stockists etc.) from her website Katethorntondesign.com
All photographs appear courtesy of Kate Thornton