Meet our Unicorn Artists

We are very excited to be part of Bristol’s Unicornfest this summer!

This art trail brings 60 beautifully decorated unicorn sculptures to the streets of Bristol and the surrounding area, we are sure you have already spotted a few of them! The unicorns are dotted across 55 locations, all decorated by a variety of local artists in support of Leukaemia Care, and we have two here at the RWA; Risa by Kate Elkington, and Dance Dance Dance by Zoe Powers.

We spoke to our Unicorn Artists about their artistic journey, their creative practice and their involvement with the Unicorn Fest.

Here is what Kate Elkington, creator of Risa, had to say…

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your journey as an artist?

A. I was very arty as a child and completed a Fashion/Textiles degree in my early 20s where my final show involved neon rubber trousers and tank tops knitted out of cling film! After a few very uncreative jobs I eventually trained as a secondary school art teacher supporting teenagers in making art and passing their exams. I loved teaching but rarely had a chance to create anything for myself. So, whilst homeschooling my 3 boys in the first covid lockdown, I had a very strong urge to create and began exploring all kinds of art making. I took part in several online mini-courses; I tried watercolour florals, portraiture, and abstract landscapes, all of which I liked but nothing felt quite like ‘me’ yet.

I gave up trying to produce things that felt ‘pretty and ‘finished’ and began exploring all the materials I could get my hands on. I made a lot of mess! Then, out of the mess, all of these vibrant colours, bold shapes and expressive marks flowed out, and I found my style. Making a mess is so important in finding your artistic voice.

I set myself the target of one year to explore and experiment before setting up an Instagram account to show the world what I was making. Soon after, I began receiving offers for commissions, collaborations and charitable projects and I just said yes to everything! I also joined the women-led Bristol Mural Collective and have been honing my mural painting skills with them. Since then, I've exhibited in several locations around Bristol, had two solo shows, been in a couple of magazines, created the artwork for Edible Records (a Bristol-based music label founded by local DJ Eats Everything) and now I've painted a unicorn!

Q. How would you describe your artistic style? What inspires you?

A. I paint emotions, specifically the lovely ones, which I can ‘see’ as colour and shape, a phenomenon known as synesthesia. My inspiration comes from anything and everything that makes me feel good, whether that be the love and togetherness I feel when out dancing with my friends, the joy and freedom I feel watching my children play, the exciting, zingy, buzz of my first sip of a margarita, or, simply, how good it feels to make a large, brushy circle with vibrant ink!

 In simple terms, I paint my good feelings and emotions using vibrant colours, bold shapes and expressive marks. My wider influences come from the local street art and graffiti that I see around Bristol as well as the colours and shapes of the Memphis art movement.

Q. What is your creative process?

A. In the early stages of a piece, I paint very freely and intuitively with a focus on play. I rarely plan ahead or think too much about the final outcome and I use my ‘does it feel good?’ intuition to inform the colours I choose and the marks I make. I think it’s this which gives my work a sense of freedom and movement. I then build the piece up in layers of shapes and marks using any materials or techniques I fancy. I am most definitely a mixed-media artist! Eventually, I reach a stage where things slow right down and I do a lot of thinking and consideration. The final shapes and details are carefully placed in order to pull the composition together, create balance, and make sure that the eye is drawn around the space. 

Q. Why did you submit a design for Unicornfest?

A. My children and I have really enjoyed following the sculpture trails we’ve had in Bristol over the years. When I heard about Unicornfest, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and that it would be a great experience for me as an artist. I then learned that this year’s trail would be in aid of Leukaemia Care, a charity very close to my heart having lost my beautiful friend Kara to it only last year. I knew I had to apply, I actually became quite desperate to paint a unicorn, not just for myself as an artist and for the enjoyment of my kids, but for dear Kara most of all. I was over the moon when I heard that my design was accepted and determined to do the best job that I could!

Q. What inspired the design for your Unicorn, Risa?

A. I designed Risa (meaning laughter in Spanish) with happy memories of Kara in mind. Kara was incredibly warm-hearted, vibrant, playful and loved a bit of fun! These memories, along with other feel-good emotions such as excitement, joy and love, are the essence of Risa the unicorn. My hope is that viewers of Risa, and of all my art, can connect to their own experiences and happy memories of feeling good.

Q. How does it feel to see your unicorn in all its glory, here at the RWA?

A. I am overjoyed about Risa’s location at the RWA. For Risa to be flanking the doorway of such a prestigious art gallery, alongside Zoe Powers Unicorn (an artist that I have greatly admired since before I began making art myself), makes me very proud indeed. If Risa can help raise funds for Leukaemia Care and put a smile on some faces, I couldn’t be happier!

Come and see Risa for yourself and relish in those good feelings this summer!

Find out more about Kate and her work on her Instagram @kateelkington_art


Introducing Zoë Power, creator of Dance Dance Dance...

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your journey as an artist?

A. I'm a Bristol-based mural painter, illustrator and designer. I have an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and recently studied for an MA in Printmaking at UWE. 

Traditional techniques such as screen printing, lino printing and sign writing have really informed my style - I love getting technical with paint and mixing skills from different practices. I started off my creative career wanting to be a signwriter, as I absolutely love lettering, but I think deep down I've always wanted to be a street artist, I just never really thought of it as a possibility.

After some hard graft, the scale I work on has gradually become bigger and bigger, and now I work on huge-scale murals across the UK.

Q. How would you describe your artistic style?

A. My work is bold, colourful and figurative. Colour can really transform a dingy wall or unlit street corner - I try to embrace that by creating work that is uplifting and unashamedly joyous. 

Q. Why did you decide to enter the Unicornfest competition?

A. I always enjoy meeting and painting with other artists, and it's raising money for a good cause. Why not?

Q. Where do you take your inspiration from? 

A. I try to draw inspiration from many corners - I love cubism, 70s fabric designs, old lithograph posters and packaging.

I try to keep engaged with social and environmental justice issues - it's important to me that my art carries a positive message, as I want people to feel empowered and inspired and to transform public space for the better. 

Q. How does it feel to see your unicorn in all its glory, here at the RWA?

A. I'm so chuffed - what a great spot. She looks so proud and so am I! 

Come and see Dance Dance Dance for yourself on our forecourt today!

Find out more about Zoë and her work on Instagram @zoepowpower

Find out more about Unicornfest at