WE HAD THE PLEASURE OF SPEAKING WITH ONE OF NEWCASTLE’S NEWEST NOVOCASTRIANS CATE ABOUT THE NEW STUDIO SHE IS WORKING IN, A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SOME OF THE COOL ART SHE MAKES, AND THE REASON SHE HAS MADE NEWCASTLE HER HOME TOWN (FOR NOW) DURING HER STUDIES AT OUR VERY FINE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE. SHE IS NEW! SO WHY NOT INTRODUCE YOURSELF THIS MONTH AND MAKE HER FEEL AT HOME.
How would you describe the art that you make? Well, put simply I love to illustrate Australia’s beautiful plants and animals, mostly using pencil and watercolours. I have always been inspired and interested in the ecology and inherent beauty of our native flora and fauna. By drawing our beautiful indigenous wildlife, I am celebrating their inherent value. I want others to share this with me and gain a greater appreciation for our native wildlife. It is really satisfying when people connect with my illustrations through their own experiences with Australian wildlife. What are you working on at the moment? I am soon to begin collaborating with another Newcastle Artist Nadia Aurisch, Nadia works with ceramics and creates really interesting and diverse work. I am keen to combine my illustrations with Nadia’s ceramic pieces. As well as this I have been busy at Stepping Stone Studio, doing work ‘behind the scenes’ and getting on with illustrating the usual fun stuff like Carnivorous Snails and Wallaby skulls. I am soon to begin studying Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle and am really looking forward to getting stuck into it. So you are one of the artists working in Stepping Stone Studios, tell us a little bit about that? Stepping Stone Studio is a Renew Newcastle space in Hunter Street Mall, Market Square (old GO LO building). Newcastle Artists Nadia Aurisch and Laura Jefferson put together a great project proposal and were really excited to have such a huge space to work in. Stepping Stone is for Artists who could do with a jump start, who need a space to create and exhibit their work. If you are interested in getting involved, get in touch! Cate, you aren’t originally from Newcastle, right? Where are you from and why Newcastle? No, I’m from Victoria but please don’t hold it against me - sorry Victoria but you are too cold and you don’t have a Natural History Illustration degree! For many years I’ve wanted to study Natural History Illustration but moving away from family and friends always seemed a bit too daunting. But I realised I was letting myself down by not at least having a crack at it. I have dragged my exceptionally amazing and incredibly handsome partner Mitch and our two dogs with me. So I am really enjoying everything Newcastle has to offer. Newcastle has an extraordinary and super dooper connected Art scene and has loads of character! Is there anything everyone should know about you? A special skill or quirky gift? That’s a tough one….. well back in chilly ol’ Victoria I worked in Natural Resource Management. I have always been passionate about caring for our biodiversity and so made a career of it. I studied Conservation and Land Management at Gordon TAFE (loved every second), then went on to try lots of different jobs. I was a Fire Fighter, a Landcare Coordinator, an Educator, a Liaison officer and a Waterwatch Facilitator. I really just love the science of our natural ecosystems and sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with others. I also really enjoy karaoke… Who is your biggest influence/s? There is a local Geelong artist Enid Mayfield who works very hard to produce stunning books on the local flora and in particular orchids. Her drawings are so clear and detailed and her observations are priceless. I also really enjoy May Gibbs’ lovely fairy tales. Her characters are so pretty and I love how she popularised native Australian plants and animal’s rather than European species. It probably wasn’t really cool at the time but May Gibbs totally owned it and made it cool!
Your mum….. ha ha! I’m serious though Kian’s lovely mother came into the studio and put me in touch with the Mirage and Kian. So I would like to thank her for helping Stepping Stone to get connected! Cheers! Also a serious answer for you! I would really enjoy continuing to working with Artists like Nadia and the gang at Stepping Stone Studio. I have trouble saying no to opportunities that pass my way so be in touch if you need someone who can draw a mean snail (I flatter myself). Another serious answer, I would like to work with inspiring naturalists like Victoria’s Trevor Pescott. Trevor is a Small Mammal expert (among many other things) and is tireless in his work to study and promote the plight of our beautiful Australian organisms. Trevor is a true gem and reminds me a little bit of Santa. I would again like to work with many of my Natural Resource Management colleagues and friends (you know who you are and I miss you guys heaps-as!) Also I would like to work with Sir David Attenborough, Professor Dumbledore, Gandalf the Grey, May Gibbs, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, and various other hero’s of mine.