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Local Artist…Catherine Tate

By James Hutton on May 26, 2020 in People

On The Tools. Photo: Guy Bailey

Introducing Catherine Tate, Clovelly’s talented ceramic artist and teacher…

How long have you lived here? I moved from Bondi 20 years ago when my eldest was about to start Clovelly Public. I was looking for more of a community as Bondi was quite busy.
Why do you live here? One day I was at Bronte with the children and the ocean was rough, so I asked a lifeguard where the boys could swim. He said, “Try Clovelly, it’s a lot calmer, like a big swimming pool.”
What’s your favourite beach? I grew up in England so I’m not the best swimmer. I love Bronte Pool, Wylie’s Baths and Clovelly at high tide in summer.
What’s your favourite eatery? I have to say the Clovelly Village, as that’s where my daughter has a Saturday job. They do the best bacon and egg rolls and decaf coffee (that tastes like real coffee).
Where do you like to have a drink? A large G&T at home on a Friday night is perfect, although after COVID I’m going to have a few drinks at The Cloey with friends, for sure!
Best thing about the Eastern Suburbs? We are so lucky with the beaches and parks. I walk a lot these days with my liver spotted Dalmatian, Ted. I also love walking through Fred Hollows Reserve (Jurassic Park), Coogee. I also should give a shout-out to the Prince of Wales Hospital, as I had cancer last year and they literally saved my life. The care I got from everyone at that hospital was bloody brilliant – doctors, nurses, volunteers… all absolute legends!
How would you describe your art? I hand-build with clay to make vessels that reflect the texture of the natural landscape around the coast – rockpools, cliffs at Bronte and Clovelly, etc.
Where can people see your work? Either my Instagram account, @catherinetateartist,
or by visiting my website at I’ve exhibited at Saint Cloche in Paddington, Art Gallery on Darling in Balmain, Kerry Lowe Gallery in Newtown, and I’m also selling through Modern Times, Melbourne and Lakshmi, Paddington.
Who are your artistic inspirations? Ruth Duckworth, an English sculptor, who worked with clay all her life and produced influential work right up until her death aged 90 – so I’d like to think my best work is still ahead of me. When I was a student at TAFE, one of my teachers was the brilliant ceramicist Simone Frazer, who happily shared her knowledge and really influenced me. I also soak up as much inspiration as possible at the V&A Design Museum in London, it’s just full of wonderful things.
When did you discover you had a gift for your craft? I always loved drawing and making things. I went to art school to study graphic design and worked as a designer for many years but felt I had to move away from the computer. About 10 years ago, I started a ceramics class at Waverley Woollahra Art School and I just loved working with clay. My teacher, Bill Burton, was such a character. Then I went to TAFE to study ceramics and now I’m addicted to it. Clay is tactile; it allows you the freedom to build, manipulate, squeeze, stretch and squash something into original forms with your hands. We are moving to Malabar soon where I will be able to have my own studio space with a kiln – a dream come true.
Where did you study? I studied graphics at Kingston Upon Thames in England, and also at TAFE in Sydney.
Any words of wisdom for young aspiring artists? Be influenced by other artists past and present, but always be sure to find your own style – definitely don’t copy.
What do you do for work? I’m lucky enough to teach ceramics and exhibit my work.
What’s your favourite thing about work? Working with creative souls; my students are such lovely people.
Do you have a favourite quote? “…It is what it is.” I think the mafia use it to describe someone who is about to get whacked, but it does sum up a lot of my everyday situations!
Any other words of wisdom for readers of The Beast? Enjoy the journey, not the end destination. I always try to encourage the students in my class to enjoy the time they spend on the creative process making things and not worry too much about producing a perfect item at the end.