Sunday, 1 April 2012

Q & A with Kate Lycett - Open Houser

Kate Lycett, one of our returning Open House artists, has been very obliging to provide some answers to a brief Q&A we sent out to the SAT makers and artists.  Who'd have thought that someone who creates such beautiful work could be a closet speed demon on the road, 68.7 mph in a Fiat Panda indeed!

Kate is in 19 Titus Street this year as part of the Open House event, and can also be found online at

Tell us about the work you do and the types of materials you use.
I work on thick watercolour paper, and layers of inks, gouache, acrylic. My paintings build up from
dark to light, and at the final stage I pick out details with my old sewing machine and pieces of gold

Where do you produce your work? Does your working environment form part of the
inspiration for your art?
I have a studio in my house, though there is an outbuilding in the courtyard earmarked for me to
move into one day. My environment in key to my work. I live in the centre of Hebden Bridge,
though the house predates most of the town's industrial past. I can see 3 million chimneys from my
studio window, and there are the remains of a vast one in the garden – the flue for steam running
under the road and the neighbour's house. I am surrounded by defunct industrial buildings, and
tiered houses built for the textile workers. I know that they used to be soot blackened and that
everywhere was dark. I love it that the chimney in my garden is now full of nesting birds, and that
the formerly blackened houses are made colourful by washing lines and pots of flowers.

Is your art your main job?
Aside from three small children, Yes!

How did you get started?
I worked for a long time as a corporate textile designer. The design briefs were strict – particularly
when it came to colour – so I used to paint for a bit of escapism. I didn't paint landscapes until I
moved to West Yorkshire 7 years ago. I took the decision when my first daughter was born to take
the plunge and try to make a living painting. I've never regretted it, and I've never looked back.

What work will you be exhibiting at the Saltaire Arts Trail?
I will have a selection of hand finished prints, as well as a couple of original paintings. Most
exciting for me is that I am hoping to have my new lanterns ready to sell for the first time. I've been
working on them for months! They are flat, cut out designs, that wrap around a candle. So I suppose
I am highlighting with light, rather than with gold. I have hit all sorts of technical hitches, but I have
been told that is par for the course. I'm very proud of them. But sending them out into the big wide
world is going to be a bit of a mother hen moment.

Where else can we see and buy your work?
I supply galleries in Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Pembridge and Knaresborough. I'm currently
preparing for a solo exhibition at the Calder Gallery in Hebden Bridge this autumn. I also open my
house as part of Hebden Bridge's Open Studio event.

What was it about the Saltaire Arts Trail that made you want to apply to exhibit?
Honestly? To look inside the houses! I love Saltaire. I come often with my family to the mill and
the park and have often meandered down the streets of pretty houses. I was thrilled to be invited to
be part of the trail last year.

What is unique about it and how does it differ from other events?
I think the event is unique because Saltaire is unique. Everything is nice and close, and walking
between the venues is as enjoyable as seeing the beautiful things on display in the houses.

Could you leave us with one more interesting fact about yourself or your work?
I currently hold the land speed record for a Fiat Panda at 68.7 mph.

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