Another installment in our Artists’ Interiors series, in this post, Outside In Manager Jennifer Gilbert shares her experience (and photographs!) of visiting Award Winner Kate Bradbury’s house.
As you walk though the plain white door of a northeast London home, you enter into the world of artist Kate Bradbury and all that it has to offer. Her house is like a gallery dedicated to her art, with something different in every room and in every corner.
I was introduced to Kate by the effervescent Sue Kreitzman, who had taken me on a tour around London to meet three other artists that day. This was back in 2012 – it was getting late, and the day had started to take its toll. However, I instantly woke up and took notice when I saw Kate’s house. It’s a powerful moment that I have not forgotten, and one I still speak about with fondness.
Kate is not only a maker, but an illustrator too, creating beautiful black and white drawings on Chinese scroll paper that she discovered in her house when she first moved in. With her drawings varying in size from small A5 pieces to Horror Vacui* style drawings standing at over one metre in length, they are all wonderful to see in the flesh. Each one is beautifully framed when it’s complete to protect the delicate paper, and I find I can study them for hours, finding new details at every turn. Some have mono-print markings deep within them, which Kate has worked over the top of with intricate, fine line details.
One of my favourite pieces is titled ‘Underground’, which was born from an accidental thumb print that made its way onto the work. Kate used this print as the basis for a face, before covering the paper in hundreds more tiny thumb print characters.
Kate doesn’t have many of the illustrations hanging around her home; they are mainly stacked up in cupboards, wardrobes and under the bed – wherever there is free space. What occupies the most space in her house are her sculptural creations – every time I plan a visit to Kate I wonder what she will be working on next. Kate is great at finding things on the street or at car boot fairs and giving them a new lease of life or a new meaning. I would love to delve into Kate’s creative mind to gain some insight into where these ideas and processes come from!
Kate’s sculptural creations are varied not just in size, but in style and material too. One of the rooms in her home is covered in things she has collected patiently waiting for their turn to be used – wheels, boots, corks, suitcase people (more about that later) and all manner of other objects she has collected. Then there are the creations that she has constructed in groups – ‘The Gleaners’, the ‘Angels’, ‘The Dervishes’ and the ‘Goat Men’ – to name but a few!
The characters with the best stories, however, are the suitcase people, which I am sad to say are dwindling in number due to space restrictions. They stand to attention all over the house, wherever there is a free inch of floor space. They grow out of old suitcases found on the streets, and are covered in and filled with other found objects. The hands are old paintbrushes and pegs and they are dressed in clothes recycled from the street. The head is the only exception – this is papier maché.
Those coming to see ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making’ this spring at Pallant House Gallery will get to see ‘Railroad Jim’ and his story first hand – he is a character, complete with his own little train and track!
What I love about Kate’s art and her house is that it is all so obviously full of passion. She’s spent many a night working away in her studio space, with dawn breaking and no sleep. Her energy and joy for what she creates is incredible, and I hope she continues to amaze us for years to come.
*the filling of the entire surface of the artwork with detail