in the Artists House
Kate Blee is primarily known for her work with cloth. Hand-dyed or painted textiles - rugs and lengths of cashmere - reflect her sustained questioning of the relationship of colour with materials, and their engagement with each other. Throughout her creative life, Kate has expanded her knowledge of the visual and the tactile, experimenting with ceramics, oil painting, gouache, print-making, and even, in 2010 for an installation in the Artist's House, lead. However, she has said that it is the "breadth of issues raised in architecture, from the most basic need to the most delicate emotion" that have informed the ideas and sensibilities driving her work. Appropriately, then, for her solo exhibition at the New Art Centre, the contingencies of domestic function and scale presented in the layout of the Artist's House, provide the stage for her complex and multi-discipline installation.
The main space upstairs in the Artist's House is laid out as a domestic scene of sorts, inspired by Blee's observations made of home environments and some of the activities which occur in these spaces. The practical and unremarkable gestures of daily life - washing, hanging, cooking, laying out, folding, pouring, spilling, wiping - are reconstituted in simple materials: paper, clay, cloth, wood, and are alluded to in the processes used to create the works - dying, firing, painting, staining. The table after a gathering; areas for washing and drying out; the storage of utensils; arrested moments in the cycle of making, gathering, and consuming. These pauses in the action bring a temporarily sculptural nature to the continuum of effort and mess, and draw attention to Kate's close conversation with materials, so we experience both her action on them and their action on each other, making visible the 'push-me-pull-you' of process.
Sarah Griffin 2018