Kate Kato is an artist, designer, crafter and a collector of unwanted things. She lives in the Welsh boarders where she creates sculpture inspired by the nature that surrounds her. Kate’s sculptures are predominantly of plants and insects and are made from recycled materials. She loves to work mostly with paper and textile, using stitching and embroidery to bring the various parts of her sculpture together.
A buzzing hive of bees makes a home in a matchbox, vintage books are overgrown with paper fungi and colorful wildflowers, and a shadow box is filled with butterflies and beetles. Rather than striving for exact scientific replication, Kato allows the original material to show through, lending a spirit of handcrafted whimsy to her work. Some of the pieces seen here can be purchased through Etsy, and you can explore more of the Wales-based artist’s work on Facebook, and Instagram.
Born and raised in Bristol, Kate completed her BA in Graphic Design at the University of the West of England in 2006. During her degree Kate had focused on book making and print, developing skills in book binding, type setting and screen printing. She explored ideas of narrative and alternative ways of presenting stories and books, working intensively with paper.
After graduating she worked as a photographer and freelance graphic designer, photographing people and places and creating printed designs for marketing.
Eventually leaving the industry and moving to the quiet countryside of the Welsh Boarders with her family, Kate took the opportunity to continue working with paper but develop her practise in a different and more personal direction.
Kate now lives and works just outside the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, her first exhibition being the ‘Prize Exhibition’ at the RBSA Gallery, Birmingham, in 2015. Kate has work in public and private collections around the world and in 2016 became an Emerge member of the Design Factory and won a ‘Merit’ award for her work at the Arts and Crafts Design Awards.
Kato’s fascination with natural things began at a young age, when her parents encouraged her to spend time outside and collecting bits of ephemera from nature, to keep in tins or boxes that Kato would bring along on walks through the countryside. She was mesmerized by botanical illustrations and museums of natural history.
“For me my work can be very nostalgic, taking me back to my childhood and the curiosity that fueled my creativity,” said Kato in her artist statement. “I like to use recycled paper as it reflects that nostalgia, and gives the sculptures a history and narrative. I like people to be able to see where the materials have come from, as well as what I have turned them into, evoking that childish curiosity we all have somewhere inside!”
Though she started to draw at a young age, Kato eventually gravitated to three-dimensional sculptures because it is more tactile, and it is easier to see and feel what one is making. She feels familiar with paper as her medium of choice, and will wet it to shape it like fabric, dye it different colours, or stack it or score it or cut it.