I am delighted to announce that I was not only shortlisted for this international drawing prize, but, yes, I have been selected as the winner!
It is just an amazing feeling.
This is such a timely and welcome accolade. At a time of such uncertainty, this is just so wonderful, to give me the confidence to trust in the power of my work. This could be the turning point. It buys me valuable time to see what will happen next.
I was especially pleased to hear what the judges felt about the work, echoing my own feelings – that the process of drawing is integral to its construction. Yes, that is it – drawing is integral to all my work, the act of being in a space, looking, feeling, thinking, with eyes, hand and charcoal.
The exhibition was due to be open now in London, before touring to Paris. I hope this will take place in the future, and will keep you updated. Meanwhile you can view the whole exhibition online in a virtual gallery.
Pictured above is my winning drawing: The Blue Bedchamber (Strawberry Hill House) 2017 – charcoal on paper 84 x 60cm (not including frame) £850
This is one of several drawings and paintings made in Strawberry Hill House in 2016/17. If you are interested in purchasing any, or seeing more of my work, please do get in touch..
Drawing the Blue Bedchamber - A Personal Account
I was first invited to draw in Strawberry Hill House after my residency at nearby Turner’s House, which ended with a solo exhibition at the Stables Gallery, Orleans House in 2015. I was delighted with the invitation, as I had never seen the inside of the house, despite having walked or driven past it on numerous occasions, on my way to Twickenham; it had always fascinated me.
I was given the guided tour as my introduction, and so learned more of the stories around the building of the house, and the life of Horace Walpole; and I was gripped, from the beginning. As an artist, I was taken with it visually of course, being all about space, light, mood and detail, telling a story as you walk through it. I was also captivated by the character of the man who built it, from his gothic novels to his obsessive collecting of treasure – I was fascinated by the fact that he would open his home up as a museum, let people wander through.
There were so many rooms I loved, from the gold gilded red gallery and subtle light of the tribune, to the tiny wallpapered writing room at the top of the stairs. Each day I visited (and there were many, as all the work was done in situ), I would choose a different room to be in – following Walpole’s own family motto “Fare que sentiat” (‘Do as you feel’).
On the day I drew the Blue Bedchamber, it was a warm, sunny day, the windows were fully open – they slide into the wall cavities, so there are no panes of glass or window frame to be seen – and the curtains around the bed were blowing in the wind. As I drew the outside, it seemed as if it was coming into the room, so I let it. In my drawing process, I usually let the line go for a walk, following the passage of my eyes, mapping the space. Charcoal is the most sensitive, immediate extension of my hand, responsive to touch, my drawing medium of choice. So my line can search and slide across the page, reaching into corners, weaving in and out of the spaces, crawling around the edges. I see the whole, as well as the details, as if my eyes are constantly coming in and out of focus. So too does the drawing. One minute clear, one minute lost in the process of looking. I choose to leave most of the traces of this exploration, removing only what seems insensitive, unnecessary, to the drawing. As the work evolves, my eye, and hand, might rest upon one area more than another. I remember becoming fascinated with the tailor’s dummy who stood hidden behind the open door – should I include her, or leave her out, what story would she have to tell. In the end she stayed, she inhabited the room, ghost like, in and out of the shadows, like the spirit of the wind. The open door to the right leads the eye out of the room, there always has to be a way out of my rooms. But it is dark through that door, so I am not sure I will be going there. Instead, I stay here in the light, the brilliance of colour, the fresh air of the window, the trees and blossom outside. This is how I draw, in situ, my hands following my eyes, following my imagination, making choices, creating spaces, and just enough of a narrative that those looking on might be tempted to step into the drawing too, and explore it for themselves.
In practical terms, I work on the floor, in situ, spreading out a dust sheet. I have to be there to feel the space, to look at it all around me. I work large, typically A1 or larger, so my whole body has to move in the process. As mentioned above, I use charcoal, I take a line for a walk, I let my hands follow my eyes, and let the drawing evolve. Most often I will rub out layers with a cotton rag, let the dust become part of the space, and draw again, changing viewpoints, shifting between space and detail, line and texture. I take pleasure in drawing the modern day plug socket in the skirting board, or shaping the elegant legs of the period chairs. Where shadows fall, I press harder with my hand, charcoal shapes spilling across the paper. I use a rubber to carve back into the grey, to draw the light back in, or create a feeling of lightness, of softness, in fabric or surface.
Due to current circumstances I am taking a break from teaching in order to focus more on my own work. Below are some ways you could support me, or follow my work through ongoing projects.
Inspired by the memory of my work at Strawberry Hill House, Turner’s House, and Danny House, I am revisiting the Roaming Residency project.
Offering myself up for commissions and domestic residences in your own home – whether on a virtual basis (drawing via video link) or looking ahead to the future when I can once again travel, visit, and immerse myself in the mysterious wonder of that feeling I get on entering an unfamiliar space.
Do get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.
Work for Sale
The Blue Bedchamber and Gothic Daydream (above) are examples of a series of drawings and paintings made at Strawberry Hill House during 2016/17.
If you are interested in purchasing any, as originals or prints, or seeing more of my work, please do get in touch.
– is an ongoing series of portraits of my fellow all year round sea swimmers here in Shoreham by Sea. Begun in December 2019, we would meet on the beach, swim, then come back to huddle in my studio over a cup of tea, while I painted, and we talked.
Now, since Covid19 and social distancing, this has to happen via video link, with or without the sea swim. We still meet, we still talk, and I record each conversation with video and audio. I will keep doing these throughout the year, documenting not only our connection through swimming, the friendships made, but also as a record of these changing times.
There will be a film made to accompany the paintings, which will be shown together at some point in 2021, accompanied by original music by Phil Jones and poetry by Katrina Quinn, fellow water babies.
Forces of Nature – Glyndebourne 2020
This year I was also very excited to be invited to show at Glyndebourne, throughout their opera season. This year the selection was of all women artists. The exhibition is currently postponed until July 2020, date to be reviewed. Meanwhile all the work will be available to view/purchase online from 31st May 2020.
Drawing on wider themes in this year’s productions, Forces of Nature seeks to explore our changing relationship with the natural world, its complex forms and power and how artists represent their feelings or memories of natural phenomena”
Due to current circumstances I am taking a break from teaching in order to focus more on my own work. Above are some ways you could support me, or follow my work through ongoing projects.
Katie Sollohub is a Sussex based artist interested in documenting and recording the places she lives and works in through drawings, paintings, performance, photography and poetry.
Katie is also an inspirational teacher, using her own experiences and processes to help motivate others. She aims to live life as a Creative Journey, and generously takes others along for the ride.