After graduating in Fine Art from Oxford Brookes University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Kate Milsom worked in art restoration for many years, where she developed a reverence for authentic materials and an appreciation of the richness and depth of pure pigment.
Kate’s work is rooted in the past, not simply because it features historical imagery, but also because she uses the same techniques and chemical processes.
Kate began developing her now distinctive style of ‘antique surrealism’ while on a long stay in Venice in 2006, making use of city-floor ephemera such as museum leaflets. She continues to incorporate ‘scraps’ of the past, sourced from second-hand books and magazines, in elaborate mixed-media pieces that she calls ‘intricate scenes of social malfunction’ in which symbolic references abound, seamlessly blending these collage elements, which she partly over-paints, with hand-painted background areas.
Researching her favourite cut-out figures for hours, Kate builds up a picture of their lives. With a wry smile and a vivid imagination, she transposes these facts into an alternative portrait; an invented image of the subject’s internal and external reality.
Kate’s recent work explores the interconnected themes of climate change and personal histories, often from the perspective of “what is normal?”. We grow up with stories and truths that seemed normal when we were children but which, when questioned later in life, can appear quite odd. Why do we keep some animals as pets and eat others? Why do humans eat and drink another creature’s product meant for its own young? In strange scenes from a childhood real and imagined, the protagonists range from climate protester Greta Thunberg to the artist herself.
Other recent series include Friends & Family and No Man’s Land. In the first the artist investigates themes from her childhood and the jumble of her pictorial memory. In the second she celebrates unsung heroines and a history of misfits.
In 2020 Kate won two Society of Women Artists prizes: the Princess Michael of Kent and the Special Fine Art Awards. Kate exhibits widely around the UK. In 2018 her work was featured in vis-à-vis at The University of South Wales, in which a selection of 20 images of women from its own Museum Collection were paired with 20 images of women by contemporary artists from Wales. She shows regularly at the Royal West of England Academy Open Exhibition, Bristol, and had her first major show with The Martin Tinney Gallery in 2018, following a group show there in 2017. She has also had work included in selected exhibitions in London, at The Menier Gallery, The Gallery Cork Street, and The Chelsea Arts Club. Kate has an increasing following of private European collectors from Southern France to Croatia.