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"WHEN I PAINT, I PLOUGH WITH MY HEART": KATE WALTERS' 'I SAW THE WAKING FIELD' AT ARUSHA GALLERY 

Arusha Gallery's curation gives Walters' works the light and generous spacing that they deserve, and one can comfortably discern her impassioned infusion of anthropomorphic elements interwoven with odes to womanhood, regeneration and metaphysical tenets. writes Ella O Gorman.

Installation shots courtesy of Arusha


When I paint, I plough with my heart,” Kate Walters divulged in anticipation of her latest exhibition at Arusha Gallery, I saw the waking field


Walters, who hails from Cornwall, studied Fine Art in London, Brighton and Falmouth before channelling her shamanist aspirations through her concentrated study of the spiritual practice. Her vast experiences have garnered major awards from Arts Council England, with recent showings at Studio Kind and the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize Exhibition. Returning to Arusha Gallery after the success of her solo show ‘Love Paintings,’ exhibited in the gallery’s Edinburgh branch, this May, Fitzrovia’s Arusha Gallery plays host to 25 of Kate Walters’ works, collectively entitled I saw the waking field. Replete with vigorous oil painting techniques, nuanced avian and equine motifs and a bright, dynamic colour palette, it is her most anticipated body of work to date. Each canvas is imbued with a transcendent sensibility that is intrinsically idiosyncratic with Walters distinctive painting style. 


I saw the waking field is about the appreciation that all things are alive and all things are connected,” Walters shares. Her intention? To challenge and confront the unexpressed erotic, messy and visceral parts of ourselves, a fervent belief in tandem with those of Jung, the esteemed father of analytical psychology. This exhibition entices and immediately encourages the viewer to consider the chasm between a woman’s grounded reality and her heightened sense of self, all whilst demonstrating a clear convergence of shamanism and spirituality. These sentiments are especially apparent in works such as Self portrait with fledgling bird consciousness (2024): in addition to the inclusion of the Greek goddess Aphrodite who is representative of love, lust and beauty in Aphrodite adorned with birds (2024), Walters also endowed her work with subtle references to Inanna, the Ancient Mesopotamian Goddess of love, war and fertility. In doing so, she successfully demonstrates her dreamlike depiction of strong, unabashed women, those whose resplendence cannot be diminished by her partner and most importantly, those who embrace their femininity unapologetically. 


The Arusha Gallery’s small and intimate setting compliments a collection of canvases that already implores the watchful observer to connect with Walters’ work. Here, the works are given the light and generous spacing that they deserve and one can comfortably discern Walters’ impassioned infusion of anthropomorphic elements interwoven with odes to womanhood, regeneration and metaphysical tenets.


Kate Walters, Aphrodite adorned with birds, 2024, Self-portrait with fledgling bird consciousness, 2024


This intriguing interplay, upon introspection, effectively establishes the consummate shamanic creativity of Walters and serves as a continuance of her characteristically mystical visual dialogue. Through paintings such as Man flowers, she holds a pillar of gold (2024) and Sacred Marriage (2024), the artist challenges the concepts of ‘holy femininity’ and ‘holy masculinity,’ the latter which is perhaps best exemplified through its absence in her other works. In Lady Peaceful (2024) and Girl holding sacred hoop (2024) the prevailing female presence is impenetrable and seemingly omniscient, her anatomy and the notion of her “inner child knowing,” expressed through the sweeping brush strokes and the modulating shades of crimson and pinks adorning her figure. 


From top to bottom: Kate Walters, Girl holding sacred hoop, 2024, Lady Peaceful, 2024


In a similar sense, the presence and celebration of a matriarchal figure can be determined from paintings such as ‘Generative love,’ one of many odes to pregnancy, childbirth and the beauty found in the transience of time.  Another memorable hallmark of Waters’ work, is her predilection for ‘fields of awareness’. These paintings serve as an unflinchingly honest portrayal of her sporadic states of ‘trance and arousal, guided by her dreams.’


“I think about creating a garden of paradise with my painting. How beauty, memory and trauma are tacked into us,” she says of her process. Hierophany and divinity transpire through her liberal application of oil on both linen and canvas, but nature, too, is inherent to her work. Walters’ interpretation of individuation is rendered through painted perceptions of ‘the ecological stream of consciousness' namely the flowers, roots and animals which feature prominently in paintings such as I have tulips for limbs and veins and wishes and bones (2024) and She sees tulips when she sleeps (2024).


Kate Walters, Ploughing with my heart, 2024


I saw the waking field is an overtly evocative exhibition, encompassing the liminal stature of Walters’ subjects and canvases characterised by a rich, vibrant tactility. Her captivating confrontation of ancient divinity and human and horticultural renewal is contrasted with her assessment of the dichotomy between masculinity and femininity. It is her effective and impressive expression of these concepts through painting that ultimately underscore the humanity and the heart that imbues this selection of work.

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