In Conversation With: Kate Lionis

For Kate Lionis, the female form is inextricably linked with nature.

How would you describe your practice? 

My art celebrates the connection women have with the earth and the beauty and strength that is derived from that connection. The women I capture are naked. To me this represents their vulnerability. The journey I take my subjects and the viewer on is one that I am taking myself. 

When and how did you first fall in love with art? 

It started from a young age. Many of my family members are established artists or dabbled in art, mainly in watercolour. At the time I did not have the patience for watercolour so I was drawn to the instant result of photography. I have tried different subjects from flowers to landscapes and event photography, but I have always been drawn back to the figure and the details of nature. 

What is the atmosphere like in your studio? 

My studio is currently very quiet. I have two young boys who like to talk a lot, so when I have the chance I keep my environment quiet. As well as having my computer for photography, I have an easel with watercolour and a couple of primed canvases ready for oil paint. 

What is your subject matter? 

My main subject is women. I really enjoy showing women at the point of a transformation. Women go through many cycles and changes, physically and emotionally, which transforms many times throughout their lives. I have observed and experienced that these changes can be more profound when we are connected to nature. Within this I reference pre–Christian goddesses and their stories. 

What have you been working on recently? 

I have been working on two series concurrently. The first is a continuation of one’s connection with nature. Having the weight of the world on your shoulders and succumbing to that weight, capturing the moment of breaking and the feeling of being unheard and fading away. The second is a series of underwater images capturing ideas around baptism. How the buoyancy of the water supports us, so we are able to succumb and let go of the past to make way for the future. I experimented with this idea with both nudity and a white dress, a common symbol for religious baptism to see how the perception of the idea changes. 

What do you aim to achieve through your art? 

I want women to be able to see aspects of themselves in my art. I will have succeeded if the viewer sees my image and thinks ‘that is me right now’, even if they couldn’t articulate why. Even though my art has been described as beautiful, it is not my priority to make the subject pleasing for the viewer. I aim to direct my subject to connect with themselves and their immediate environment, a connection I then attempt to capture.

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