An Interview with Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury_ The Brakemen_ ink pen on chinese scroll paper_ 14x13cm_ 5.5x5 inchesKate Bradbury /The Brakemen / Ink pen on Chinese scroll paper /14 x 13 cm 

Kate Bradbury is an artist that you may not be familiar with. I first encountered her work a few years back via Outside In an organisation that provides a platform for artists facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. Her work weaves between intricately detailed ink drawings and 3-dimensional assemblages, combining carefully constructed carved, cut and found objects to create works that draw you into to a world that is both magical and mysterious.

In 2016 Kate’s work was part of the Radical Craft exhibition that Outside In co-organised with Craftspace, that toured to seven venues across the UK, starting at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. These days her work is represented by the Jennifer Lauren Gallery which champions self-taught, evolving and overlooked artists and it was through Jennifer that I was able to get in touch with Kate and ask her a few questions about her work.


Kate Bradbury Exhibition London/ Photograph Andrew Hood


When you first began to show your work through Outside In you had a job making sandwiches, so my first question is.  Are you still making sandwiches?

I haven’t made sandwiches for a couple of years now, except for my own consumption. I now work as a cleaner.

How long have you been making art and when did you first start showing it?

I probably started making art about fifteen years ago, although I am not good at keeping track of time so that might not be accurate. I lived in a large, shambolic, falling down; a communal house full of junk and a few art materials left behind by former tenants and just started playing around with them to see what I could create. It quickly became a compulsive activity so after a couple of years I was persuaded by friends to put on an exhibition at my local library, which had a very large, cheap gallery space

 Your work shifts between 3D constructions and drawings, how would you describe your work and where did you pick up the skills?

The 3D constructions come about from junk that I find in skips, gutters and dustbins overflowing onto the streets of north London where I live. I will be attracted by the shape, texture and imagined history of an object and like the idea of recycling stuff to give it a new life and purpose. Sometimes I already have a plan in mind and sometimes it is the find itself that suggests a creation to me. I have no taught skills, so everything is trial and error. My drawings are done with black ink onto thin Chinese paper and I find myself unable to use any other medium. I like the way the ink soaks into the paper and the texture it creates. The pictures are detailed with architecture, animals, human forms, transport, nature, pattern and sometimes words too.

Your work is now being exhibited in shows such as the radical Craft exhibition and represented by Jennifer Lauren Gallery and being bought by collectors, what’s that like?

Although I don’t make my work specifically for exhibitions, it is a great compliment that galleries are interested in showing it and I do enjoy hearing other people’s reaction to it. It is a good feeling to dig it out from under the bed or on top of a cupboard and see it all clearly displayed in a sympathetic space. I often discover pieces that I had forgotten I had done. Selling the work is difficult as I get attached to pieces as I am working on them and then when they are sold I realise I won’t see them again. However, I am very grateful that people are interested enough in my work to want to buy it and hopefully display it to a new audience. It would be good to be able to make a living from my art, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to tailor my practice in order to make money.

Kate Bradbury_ Flint and Thistle_ ink pen on chinese scroll paper_ 14x13cm_ 5.5x5 inchesKate Bradbury /Flint And Thistle/ Ink pen on Chinese scroll paper /14 x 13 cm 

Do you think that there are differences/barriers between notions of Outside/marginal Art and the established art world and is it an issue?

I have recently been watching short films about “Outsider Artists” that were submitted to Raw Vision magazine as part of a competition and have been overwhelmed by the creativity, ingenuity and passion of so many largely unknown artists. The great majority have no art education, but an instinctive need to create and are often oblivious to any outside interest. Perhaps this is what separates them from the established art world, although several well-known artists such as Dubuffet and Picasso, clearly admit to being influenced by naive, untutored or folk art. I think that just as there are different forms of music, there are different types of art and people put barriers up unnecessarily.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on some large and smaller drawings in the evenings and early mornings, and if I get time during the day I am experimenting with plaster and home -made moulds, with an architectural model in mind.

Do you have any advice for creative folk who are still making sandwiches?

Once you have got the sandwich making method down to a fine art, you can do it automatically which frees up your brain to think about doing another kind of art when you put the butter knife down at the end of the day.

fullsizeoutput_1122Kate Bradbury Exhibition London/ Photograph Andrew Hood

Many thanks, Kate  We love your work

You can see more of her work via


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