I am a "Scatterling of Africa”. Forever inspired by my birthplace Africa, I have in the last decades called several places home. I have a great affinity with the Zebra, who is as an animal spirit, considered “a nomad, always on a quest”. The zebra’s stripes are also a metaphor for my identity, because in reality they are never as simple as black and white but always nuanced in shape, and tone.
After many years of creating photographic portraits, I longed to move away from the fuss of technology, where computers, cameras and cords had begun to feel like a barrier. In doing so, I discovered the world of watercolour, where I can create a picture with my own hands, brushes and pigments sourced directly from the earth. I use a loose gestural technique to depict my subjects, conveying not only their physical beauty – through texture, pattern, form, colour and tone – but also their dynamism of spirit. I channel my positivity into my practice, creating imagery that honours the animals that inspire me with the subtleties of water and pigment.
The medium of watercolour celebrates so much of what I value about life. I love its fluid, organic nature and how the medium celebrates simplicity. It can be unpredictable and invite serendipity. I have learned to embrace the imperfections on and off the paper. Like life, watercolour does unexpected things that cannot be changed or covered up but can be cultivated. Yet paradoxically, producing a spontaneous painting involves slow and painstaking deliberations, with the smaller marks and intricacies of the painting taking time and careful consideration. Much like life itself.
I fear that because of ivory consumption my daughters may never have the incredible experience of seeing an elephant in the wild. I am a South African living in China and am compelled to raise awareness of Hong Kong’s critical position in the illegal ivory trade. With my art, I want to support those campaigning for change.
2017 KATIE GRAHAM