The Happy Garden
By Kate Downie

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Year
1997
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
Urban and Architectural
Reg. Number
G1530
Size
46.5 x 58 cm

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This print is predominantly a muted yellow in colour, with relatively small abstract details in subdued colours - browns, blues and olive green - scattered throughout, but with a preponderance in the top right-hand half of the picture. The effect is an impressionistic haze of sunlight and warmth in which individual details cannot be made out but which give suggestions of foliage, exotic birds and walls or fences. Kate Downie's paintings, drawings and prints are produced in direct response to her surroundings, reflecting the changing localities of her working life.

Kate Downie describes her work: "Ever since living in Paris in the late 80's, I have been exploring the concept of 'La Place': a point in the land where many roads meet. One of my creative concerns is to define these spaces between buildings rather than the buildings themselves. The object lesson for me is the witnessing and the drawing of these non-places which are also, by definition, public arenas of cumulative activity. My job as an artist is to accommodate these actions in our contemporary lives, and to find the poetry within."

'Happy Valley' is the name of the little Chinese restaurant featured in the print, but also a reflection of the light sunshine happy colours that came out in the print.

Kate Downie was born in America of British parentage, but returned to live in the North East of Scotland at the age of 7. She studied Fine Art at Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen, including post graduate studies. She has been artist in residence in the USA, Amsterdam, Paris and more recently Corsica and Norway. During her career Kate has established studios in places as diverse as a brewery, a maternity hospital, an oil rig and an island underneath the Forth Rail Bridge. She has taught both in art colleges and universities and has directed major public and community art projects since 1987.

President of the historically adventurous Society of Scottish Artists from 2004-2006, Kate became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 2008. In 2011 she participated in an international residency programme in Beijing to make new work and to study the work of Chinese ink painters. A solo show of new work in response to China's Industrial Revolution will open in 2013 at the RSA in Edinburgh and will be accompanied by a new publication.

Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Kate Downie


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