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Life At Chelsea: Katherine Lowe – MA Fine Art 

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Written by
Natalie Anastasiou
Published date
31 August 2018

In the lead up to our MA Summer Show opening on 7 September, we interview current students about their life at Chelsea and how their learning experience has shaped their practice. We caught up with Katherine Lowe studying MA Fine Art.

Large board painted like the sky.

“I started MA Fine Art as a visual artist, primarily a painter. Over the course of two years, I have read widely, explored galleries, done workshops, listened to a multitude of lectures and as a result I have greatly expanded my knowledge, research and practice in contemporary art. In short, I have become a fully-fledged conceptual artist with a diverse practice and many new, unexpected skills.

“During my time at Chelsea I have continued to show and sell my work. I have been painting for a number of years and have a good client base. I sell work through my website and through Rise Art.

“My degree show work explores the intersection of technology and play. I have examined the myriad ways which technology is changing our creative practices and our ability to play imaginatively with each other. My research involved collecting one week’s worth of plush toys from five different charity shops around London. In total I collected over 200 toys – they are pouring in from households at an incredible rate because imaginative play has declined as our lives and our leisure have become predominantly screen-based. As a way of deconstructing the paradigm of discarded toys, I recruited some volunteers to help me “un-stuff” all of the plush toys.

A pink bear with its head removed

“This was a surprisingly violent process and I took many photographs of the dismembered and deconstructed toys. The photographs were arresting and strangely alluring, so I decided to work with them for my degree show. I chose five images which were edited, printed on chromalux and then mounted onto a hard-bonded surface. These large format photos will be floating against a large hand printed mural of a sky. To augment the mood of reminiscence and dissociation, the photos will be shown together with a series of boxed (synthetic) woodland aromas.

“There is a second element to the work which is a series of simple hopscotch installations in hallways running around the Degree Show Galleries. These painted floor structures will hopefully encourage people to have a brief moment of playfulness (which is not screen based) as they walk around the show.

A man playing hop scotch.

“An external exhibition I had whilst at Chelsea was Sideroom Solo Show 2017. This was an excellent experience of mounting a solo show in a very quirky small space. I made work for the unique location – and used everything – including the dusty alleyway, the baseboards and the random cavities in the brick walls.

“I am influenced by a wide variety of artists and thinkers and writers. Hito Steyerl and Mike Kelley have made seminal works that probe technology and childhood games. I have also been influenced by technology writers, anthropologists and even philosophers including Nicholas Carr, DW Winnicott and Marshall McLuhan. My family life has also affected my work; observing my own family (my “screenagers”) as they move through a social-media-drenched adolescence has been amusing and at times utterly terrifying.

An inflatable swan

“What I’ve enjoyed most about living in London is the non-stop creative opportunities and stimulation.

“I am proud to be part of a distinguished group of artists to have been educated at Chelsea. My fellow students are a hugely varied and talented bunch. I value their input into my own work and derive much pleasure from their ambitious, creative output.

Three naked dolls playing in white flowers

“Going forwards, I’ve started researching and gathering materials for a series of mixed media collages which will further explore the declining role of creative, human-to-human contact and play. I have a residency at UWC in Wales starting in the autumn. My husband will be working partly in New York from September so I intend to explore the New York art galleries, and follow up with colleagues who are curating there. I have two group shows (one in Toronto and one in London) that I am researching and planning.

“My advice to new students starting the course is to invest yourself but pace yourself, be curious, take risks – and don’t leave your white-spirit soaked rags in your locker with your lunch…

“My time at Chelsea in three words? Provocative, challenging, broadening”

A toy bear head hanging from a tree.

To see more of Katherine’s work head to her website or Instagram page:

Explore work by more students at ChelseaDegreeShow.com

Find out more about this year’s MA Summer Show open 7 – 13 September

Find out more about MA Fine Art