Kate DOWNIE Born 1958 -
Kate Downie was born in America of Scots parentage, but returned to live in the North East of Scotland at the age of 7. She studied at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, graduating with BA (Hons) in 1980. She has lived and worked in the USA, Amsterdam and Paris and is currently based in Edinburgh. She has worked as an artist-in-residence in a brewery, an oil rig, a maternity hospital, and on an island below the Forth Rail Bridge. Her work is held in public, including the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, and private collections in Europe and the United States. She has shown her painting, drawing, printmaking and film, internationally.
Kate Downie’s work was featured in a five-week exhibition at Gracefield from July 12 to August 16, 2003. The exhibition has meet with both popular and critical acclaim and attracted over 4,000 visitors. It featured 2 large drawings (4m x 2m) and a selection of smaller paintings and lithographs.
She describes her work for the exhibition: “For over 20 years I have been drawn to that strange mutable place where the land meets the sea. On the east coast of Scotland where I have spent most of my life, the coastline is eroded back continuously, even the rocks and cliffs. What we might, at first glance, take as a fixed entity, is of course as fragile and open to change as our society and our social identity. Three summers ago I set up studio in the remote peninsula of Old Slains. It was a place of physical and emotional resonance to me, having been a special family place going back 3 generations. From here I explored both the natural and human stories inherent in this place, and in doing so expressed my own emotional relationships. The exhibition here in Gracefield Studios was a chance to look at the work in another light, developed and grown: less “a sense of one place”, more about the calligraphy of erosion. A discovery, as many artists continue to make, that destruction and creation are such perfect cause and effect.”
Like Joan Eardley and DY Cameron in the last century, Downie has spent the past 20 years exploring an artistic vision for both the extremes of a Scottish urban/industrial landscape as well as the less pastoral coastal places beyond the cities.
Her work is defined by extraordinary draughtsmanship and a sense of movement. Panoramas, unbound by the mere edge of a sheet of paper, invite the viewer to enter the works, both complex and accessible. Previous exhibition highlights include: East a solo exhibition at the University of Edinburgh Talbot Rice Gallery, in 2001 New Paintings, Galleri Grijsdalen, Denmark in1995, Urban Circus which toured to Dundee McManus Gallery, Cleveland Art Gallery, Art Space Gallery Aberdeen in 90/91. She was elected vice president to the Society of Scottish Artist in 1999 and has recently been elected President beginning her two-year term in autumn this year. Her most current project ‘Interchange’ is a city development plan for Aberdeen’s waterfront for which she is working with a team of architects and city planners.