Talking art with Kate Senior

Interior designer, jeweller and now artist, Christchurch’s Kate Senior has many strings to her bow. Metropol editor Lynda Papesch caught up with Kate to find out more about her journey, and her inspiration.

Looking back, Kate Senior realises creativity and art have always been a part of her life. They aren’t something she suddenly discovered, instead more an inherent part of who she is, and has always been.

“From when I can first remember, I was fascinated by interior and fashion magazines. “One of my prized possessions at school was a large art gallery catalogue,” Kate recalls. “Back then, without the internet, every source of inspiration was cherished.”

Kate’s creativity initially grew into a career in interior design, before she switched to become a self-trained silversmith and co-owner of jewellery company Guthrie & Steele, which she founded with her mother, Sue.

Moving from interior design to jewellery, and now art, is part of an ongoing journey, and Kate feels lucky to do what she loves every day. Interior spaces that are harmonious yet interesting influence her style. “It is a balance I strive for in my paintings, carefully selecting complementary colours, then adding a hidden element to create intrigue,” Kate says, adding that she didn’t set out to have a particular style, it has just developed over time. 

Her painting started as a hobby, and she soon found that  people kept buying what she was painting. Now Kate feels “incredibly lucky” that she can focus on her art as a business, with the ongoing opportunities that continually arise, from exhibiting, selling in Shopology, donating pieces in charity auctions, and next month (April 2024) launching a collection in Auckland. Kate’s artistic career developed through a series of activities, starting while at school.

“One of the best things for observational skills that I have done is life drawing classes. Later, I learnt how to make jewellery from my mother, who did a silversmiths course. I did a two-year diploma at the Christchurch Polytech [Ara] in Interior Design, and then various art classes, including a week at St Martins College of Design in London.”

Life these days revolves around art in some form or another. While Kate enjoys listening to audio books when out walking and gardening, what she likes doing most to relax is paint. “I now have the dream job,” she laughs.

Her surroundings are the source of Kate’s inspiration. “I am constantly absorbing visual stimuli,” she explains. “Whether it is watching movies, observing nature, or simply looking out a window, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. “A glimpse of the sky can spark my creativity, making inspiration a never-ending journey for me.”

Just as she trusts her instincts when painting, Kate advises others to do the same when buying art. “Many people feel intimidated when it comes to purchasing art because they’re unsure how to determine its quality. I believe choosing a painting should be about finding a piece that evokes feelings, a piece that for some reason resonates with you, and you really want to take it home because you enjoy looking at it.”

Her advice is to consider the size, colour scheme, and style of the space to ensure the artwork sits comfortably in the place you intend to hang it. “Ultimately, choose art that speaks to you personally, as you’ll be the one living with it.”

Images: Phoebe Senior

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