I recently visited local artist Kate Marsden in her studio at ASC Grafton Road. For those of you who don’t know ASC Grafton Road, it is home to over 100 studios for artists and designer-makers about 15 minutes walk west of West Croydon station and 15 minutes walk east of Ikea – it is a calm and airy space with lots of light, so I can see why many local creatives like to work there.
Kate and I caught up for a chat about the transformation of her work in recent years, and she also showed me around her current exhibition ‘Captive: an exploration of grief, loss and confined emotion’ which is on until 22 December (by appointment) in the Cube gallery space at the studios. For me the exhibition felt thoughtful and evoked sadness as well as beauty and quiet.
Croydonist: How long have you been at ASC?
Kate: I moved in a year ago this week, following a few months on the waiting list. I’m really loving working here – it’s a great place to be.
Croydonist: Do you think having a studio there has played a part in the development of your work and if so in what way?
Kate: It’s made a huge difference as I’m able to plan my work differently and work on a much larger scale. Having studio space outside my home, after working there for the previous 9 years, changed how I felt about my work and has really helped me with my time management as well. Having this space, with such amazing light has definitely influenced the style of work I’m producing too.
Croydonist: Your artistic style has been through a transformation in recent years. Can you tell us a bit about the reasons for this evolution?
Kate: I’m actually finally doing everything I wanted to do in the first place, but was previously too scared to make the jump! My Dad died in 2019 and then my best friend at the end of 2021, and these two losses had a huge impact on me and the work I was producing. I realised that life is far too short to continue to do something I’d lost the love for. That combined with a change in people’s shopping habits post-pandemic, made the decision to move further towards fine art at this point for me.
Croydonist: You still use a lot of bright colours in your work, but do you now view colour differently to how you used it in your more figurative work?
Kate: In my previous work, my colour choices were based more upon my favourite colours, alongside design principles. The work I am producing now is far more personal, and colour choices are more likely to be based upon feelings and emotions. I use a lot of pink nowadays, but I don’t really consider it to be a happy colour – colourful doesn’t necessarily mean cheerful. I’m on a bit of a mission to change how people feel about pink!
Croydonist: You embrace a range of media in your work. Starting out as a textile designer, how does this media currently influence you?
Kate: I can’t leave textiles alone, no matter how hard I try! Most of the business advice for artists tells you to focus, and produce for example, only abstract paintings, or only sculpture, or only textiles, but I like to use a wide variety of media. My work is linked through theme, colour and my personal style. I may be doing it all wrong (according to the advice!) but I can’t work like a production line (this is another one of the reasons my work has changed over the past couple of years, as it was starting to feel like that).
I’ve been working on a number of textile pieces recently, but I’m currently producing a series of increasingly large needlepoint tapestries. Some of which can be seen in my current exhibition.
Croydonist: How did you curate your current exhibition?
Kate: My current exhibition at ASC Croydon features 21 pieces which centre upon my recent experiences of grief, loss and trying to put on a brave face; containing my emotions. Every piece fits within this theme, but the exhibition includes paintings, sculpture, textiles and other objects.
Croydonist: What’s next for you this year/2024?
Kate: I have work in a number of group exhibitions over the coming months, and I will also have a solo gallery show at Sprout Arts in Tooting at Easter 2024. After a tricky year this year, I’m hoping to get back to teaching and writing as well – watch this space.
In the meantime, on 25 November I will be taking part in Carshalton Artists’ Christmas Art Fair at Cryer Arts in Carshalton, where I’ll be selling a selection of small, affordable pieces, prints and other items.
A big thank you to Kate for chatting with us. Her exhibition at ASC runs until 22 December. If you would like to book an appointment to see it you can message Kate on Instagram.
Keep up-to-date with Kate’s work via her Linktree.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Posted by Julia