Local Artist Series // Kate Florence
Who are you and what do you create?
I am 27, born and raised in the heart of the English countryside. I had a very colourful upbringing, riding horses, building castles, playing in the dirt and dancing around in fancy dress as much as I possibly could.
I was raised in a creative and playful environment. Being very connected to the earth, we had to find creative ways to have fun — that has massively contributed to the direction my life has taken. I am very grateful of my childhood and to be one of the last generations to grow up without technology.
Right now, my practice is exploring paint. My work is a constant evolution of growing ideas. It began years ago when I discovered free machine embroidery and began to draw through stitch. I fell in love with the lack of control you have and the pace of the machine means you just have to draw what comes to you in the moment. This is something that is still prominent throughout my practice — I try not to plan much of my work, so I can fully immerse myself in the flow of what comes to me at the time.
What inspires your work?
SO many things. The main subject of my work is the human form, I have been fascinated with it for years. We are truly beautiful creatures — living, moving, thinking, breathing, magical forms — that can be portrayed endlessly though the medium of art. We may be varied in our looks, but underneath it all, we are all the exact same.
Growing up in Europe, I was lucky enough to be constantly submerged in some of the worlds greatest collections of art, both ancient and contemporary. This was something that I took for granted. It’s not until I moved to Australia that I realised what a blessing this was. Going on trips to Barcelona and seeing the life’s work of Pablo Picasso, of Joan Miro; visiting Vienna and seeing the staggering collection of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele; the architecture; the design; the languages; the energy and history was everywhere. Art was everywhere. (Not to mention London and its contemporary art scene.)
Where is your favourite space to create in?
Hmmmm, that’s a hard one! I usually create in my studio. It’s important for me to have other creatives around the space I work. This means I can discuss ideas, or colour choice and ask for
feedback, rather than just asking myself questions, on a loop, in my own head!
I do like to shake things up and paint at home on the property I live at. The light is awesome and it’s a super natural environment that I find they calming to work in.
Was there a moment in your life that made you realise you were on the right path?
I think, for me, it has been a series of moments. I think one of my first moments was when I started consistently selling work and getting enquires for commissions. I started to realise I had something people wanted. Selling work was validation that maybe I could do this for a living — that I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week in a job that was exhausting and not fulfilling. One of the hardest parts of being an artist is understanding the value in what you create. When you are the artist, it can be hard to see what other people see. It’s easy to undervalue and dismiss yourself. Confidence is key.
The real turning point moment, for my own self-worth as an artist, was to sell-out my first solo show in Sydney in March 2020. I was expecting to sell maybe half of it, at most, and I remember bursting into tears when I was told I had sold out all 17 works in the first day. Since then, I have backed myself and believed in myself. The doubt still creeps in sometimes, but working through the doubt has become much easier. I still make mistakes and get rejected, but I use it as fuel to
improve and grow.
What do you do when you find yourself struggling with creativity?
I’m learning that creativity comes in so many forms, and without input there is no output.
I go through phases of being super productive, madly making loads of work, then being completely flat and exhausted. Being a full-time artist often means I expect myself to create work constantly. I am now fully embracing that rest is one of the most important and nourishing things for creative drought.
I often change my environment — go into nature, go exploring, swimming, or cook delicious and nourishing food. The answer I have found is: don’t push it. If I don’t feel like creating, then I don’t create. I take myself on a date, dance to my fave song, or hang out with my loved ones. Soon, the inspiration creeps back in.
Tell us about your life drawing sessions. How did you get into them?
I have attended life drawing sessions, on and off, for years. I’ve always wanted to learn from as many people as I can.
I had this idea brewing for a while but I couldn’t find the right space to host it in, nor did I feel confident enough yet. Once I moved into my studio in Noosaville, I realised the perfect
workshop space had presented itself to me naturally.
I wanted to create a space for everyone, as I am really passionate about wanting to help people
reconnect with their creativity. As kids, we are all so creative, then the world strips us of it. I see creative expression as a form of therapy and a way to better understand yourself.
The workshops encompass this: to work freely without focusing on being ‘good’ or creating an accurate drawing — It’s about exploring different ways to draw and express yourself, aimed at
What’s next for Kate Florence?
This year is about expanding myself, and my practice, to be of service to others. I have a few ideas bubbling under the surface that I have wanted to do for a while. This year, for me,
is also about collaboration — working with other creatives to create magic together. I want to push myself to tackle the ideas I would have previously written off as too difficult or unachievable.
All photography by Keith Hamlyn.