Kate Newington

Ever since my early teens, when I discovered the work of the Cubists, who made their still lifes using fragments of French newspapers and frayed wine labels, I have been fascinated by collage. My early pictures were mainly portraits or still lifes - the first collage portrait I can remember making was a portrait of my brother in his pyjamas, when I was thirteen years old. Nowadays I spend time in my live/workspace in St Ives and over the years, regular visits to the Cornish coast and the work of great Cornish still life painters like Winifred Nicholson and the many that exist now, have inspired me to make my own collage and mixed media still lifes.

More recently, following the death of my mother in 2012, I have also been using photographic reference from the past to explore the themes of memory and childhood. These pictures are also figurative, though dreamlike, and larger than my still lifes and portraits. They often include elements of the landscape of the Southwest, and the imprinted visual recollections of childhood holidays in Cornwall and the Channel Islands.

Alongside, for the last twenty years or so, I have also been making collage portraits by commission. The strand that began in my early teens was picked up again when people started to commission me to make portraits using cut and torn paper. These requests have continued, simply by word of mouth and have been a good source of income. The challenge behind the making of these pieces, is that of taking something as formal and prescribed as a portrait, and ordering random pieces of printed paper or a chaos of re-cycled scraps, into something as specific as the likeness of a person.