Words and photos by Jenni Mazaraki
The deep veranda at printmaker, Kate Hudson’s house cast a cool shade at the start of a warm day. Pot plants were arranged neatly beside the doorway like little treasures, a hint and promise of the beautiful things that were waiting to be seen inside Kate’s studio.
I arrived too early at Kate’s place. She was the first on my list of artists to visit during the Nillumbik Artists Open Studio weekend. I forgot to check the time and caught her whilst she was still finishing off her preparations.
It’s a generous thing to do, to open your house to unknown visitors. I asked Kate if she had any idea how many people were coming and she said that she had no way of knowing. Despite my eager arrival, (sorry Kate!) she welcomed me into her studio and quickly began to explain how she creates her lino cut prints. Printmaking is a process that takes time. Months in fact.
Kate Hudson usually produces her prints in a limited edition of 35. Each design is layered with several colours and each colour takes approximately a week to print, allowing drying time between the next colour application. As she builds up the print, she removes bits from the lino so that some areas are not overprinted.
Her home is filled with light. White walls and skylights cast a gentle glow over her furnishings. The Persian carpet marks the area that is usually her living room, but today, the space is filled with a selection of her unframed prints, lined up neatly on a glass table, ready for viewing.
On one wall, Kate has displayed framed prints, explaining that it took a long time to set up and get all of the prints lined up. It would be easy to assume that the framed prints were always on the wall, but Kate said that she doesn’t usually have her own work up at home as the natural light coming in from the skylights would be damaging to any coloured art work displayed.
Kate designs and cuts the lino in her home studio in Eltham North and then prints her work at the Australian Print Workshop in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. This allows her to use large printing presses and have space to dry her prints on the drying racks, something she would not be able to do at home. Working at the Australian Print Workshop also allows her to work alongside other printmakers.
Kate’s prints are incredibly detailed. With images of Australian birds and flowers, her lines are intricate. Bird feathers are patterned down the backs of native honeyeaters and flowers and leaves are cut in crisp lines, separate from the shape beside it in a neat and ordered composition. Kate works in black and white as well as colour. Recently, her beloved cats, Max and Opal have featured in her work. We chat about how lovely cats are and how cats make a house a home.
In Kate’s studio she has a wall showing her sketches and a pin board with inspiring images. Her desk faces the window and looks out over her property with a view of a natural bushland setting and her husband, Steve’s pottery studio. It’s great to look out at a scene of such natural beauty whilst standing inside Kate’s charming studio.
Kate’s work often features native Australian floral arrangements in jugs and vases. Her composition has a flattened landscape, derivative of traditional Japanese printmakers. The colours and tones in her work range from duck egg blues, warm yellows to sage greens. Many of the vases that feature in her prints are actual vases which her husband, Steve makes. Some are from op shops. Steve’s vases are geometric in style, the shapes are bold and expertly constructed. They are the perfect complement to the floral arrangements which Kate captures and simplifies in exquisite detail in her prints.
Kate tells me that her secret weapon to getting her lines cut in such fine detail is using a magnifying tool which sits on her desk amongst cutting mats, cutting tools and an assortment of small objects, useful and decorative.
After completing a degree in Textile Design in London and working as a textile designer and teacher, Kate has been working as a printmaker since 1995. She has exhibited her work in group and solo shows and her work is held in various collections including the National Gallery of Australia and local government collections in Australia and Japan.
The next Nillumbik Artists Open Studio weekend is on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November 11am to 5pm.