It started with old newspapers shaped into snowflake patterns and has progressed to the most intricate of collages formed in her own expressive style.
Kathryn’s stunning picture of an abandoned tractor at Sawmills captured the attention of the judges of the 31st Open who awarded her the Derbyshire Trophy and purchased the picture for the county’s art collection.
“My earliest memories are of cutting up newspapers into patterns and learning to make snowflake shapes,” she explained.
“I made so many I got it off to a fine art and at school it would be my snowflake hung on the wall as I was much better at it than everyone else’s.
“I liked messing about with art materials and would use anything I could get my hands on. I even made patterns in the little squares on the Pools coupons my father had around the house.”
The young Kathryn’s artistic nature was encouraged by a teacher at Hallcroft School, in Ilkeston, the town where she was born and still has strong emotional connections.
“Mr Nix was his name. He was so inspiring and the most wonderful art teacher who gave me so much encouragement. I looked forward to every art lesson and I owe him so much,” said Kathryn reflecting on how it all began.
So she could remain living at home she attended a foundation course in art and design at Nottingham Trent and was then persuaded to do an embroidery course at what was then Manchester Polytechnic.
Now 62, Kathryn has retired after a lifetime of work in a variety of roles including the postmistress at Ilkeston – a job she confesses to have loved – and most recently in the libraries department of Nottinghamshire County Council.
None of them utilised her talents with textiles but in her spare time (when she wasn’t bringing up her two children) she would always be working on something artistic, be it quilting, patchwork or collages.
She and her teacher husband Roger, who live at Sutton-in-Ashfield, share a love for gardening, walking and creativity and together they have filled their home with artwork much of it inspired by what they see around them when they are out in the Derbyshire countryside.
Kathryn will take pictures while they are out walking and use them as the catalyst to create her collages.
There are many layers involved in creating just the right texture and the artist now creates her coloured paper to cut up and use to build the images.
“I used to use good quality magazines but they can fade and I wanted my pictures to retain the colour. Now I paint sheets of paper with the colour I need and use those. It works really well and I am pleased with the results.”
Both Kathryn and Roger enter as many competitions as they can and enjoy the challenge of the brief. This year Roger also had a painting of Butterley Works, commended in the competition.
“We try to enter whatever local event we can get to easily but the one we enjoy the most is the Derbyshire Open so it is such a thrill to have won the prize. I couldn’t believe it when I received the call telling me. I had to check twice just to make sure I was hearing it right.”
The competition is staged annually by Derbyshire County Council and is open to both professional and amateur artists. This year there were 289 entries and 102 were selected for an exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery which will run until September 6.