Ones to Watch: Interview with Katie Bennett-Rice

Find out more about Katie Bennett-Rice in our artist interview!

May 22nd, 2020

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Your full name, and university course/year.
Katie BennettRice, Art and Design (Int) 2019, University of Leeds
Can you describe your work to using 3 words?
Everyday nature appreciation
What medium do you prefer to use?
I like to work with 0.1MM pens, the three pack from The Works work just fine and are very wallet friendly. Lately i’ve moved onto finer tips to try and get in even more detail and make some smoother shading you cant get with bigger sized pens.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
The inspiration for this work specifically came from living near the coast in Australia, where washed up marine debris on beaches after storms revealed some fascinating ‘alien’ corals. Those who lived locally barely noticed these weird washed up forms or they appeared just mundane or inconvenient. Applying this perspective to a UK coastline made me review how we view kelp and seaweed, the most common obstructions on picture perfect beaches. I became intrigued with what clues they could give us about their life underwater and how our aesthetic appreciation of them changed as a result.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Space and natural light are the main ones for me. The drawings all start life rolled out on the floor so I can section off areas of dark and light before adding a rough structure the drawing will follow. The light has to come from the right direction so that my hand doesn’t shade the work so I can see what I’m doing. I often find myself surrounded by three different lamps or shuffling round the work throughout the day!
During this uncertain time what will you do to occupy yourself?
Being confined to a daily walk and my small concrete Burley garden, I have been transforming the space into a haven for bees, birds and insects by making a pond, rockery and herb garden. So far it is going well, and we even found a very large frog! Of course I am drawing daily also, and when the sun is out, i sit on my front step to soak up some fleeting sun. I have also started a new project based around a one mile radius of nature pathways from my front door.
Which artists are you most influenced by?
Two big inspirations for me are Juliette Losq and Olivia Kemp. Kemp’s detail and patience encouraged me to persevere with a very slow process, and Losq’s work expands drawing from the page in a way that can’t be defined to one particular medium. I also love Jake Grewals work; I find his use of colour and movement mesmerising and evocative of the warmth of being ‘in nature’ that is so hard to describe.
Plans for the future?
The next step will be taking the plunge and investing in a studio space to have a designated place to make, other than my living room and bedroom floor, and have the freedom to make some massive pieces of work. This is quite daunting but incredibly exciting, other than this I have no real fixed plans other than to just keep drawing!
What are your favourite Instagram accounts?
I love the RSPB Love Nature Account and National Trust, and get a lot of inspiration for sketches and pieces from the nature images they post, as well as slowly learning the names of different bird varieties. They are particularly welcome at this time when I can’t get out into the countryside and need some refreshing nature from the confines of my living room. I also love Leeds based lettering artist Ellie Heywood (Elettr) for her absolute control and consistency with hand drawn ink calligraphy, something that is just beyond me, and is very satisfying to watch.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be a residency with an organisation such as the National Trust, learning about the local flora and fauna of a site and translating as much scientific research and real data into a finished work as possible. I would love to work with researchers and hold educational workshops to school classes combining the ecology with art to tackle ongoing and emerging climate issues, and encourage an appreciation of nature in everyones local areas, no matter how rural or how urban or how ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’.
Find out more about Katie Bennett-Rice’s work here.
Read about all the Ones to Watch artists here.
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