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Kay van Blerk: Artist of the Week

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

This week we will be taking a dive into the art practice of Kay van Blerk, our fourth Artist of the Week.

Kay is a multimedia artist currently producing natural landscapes that harmonise both painting and photography. This mixed media process is something that caught our eye. If you want to find out more about Kay's expressive artwork and understand her process you can read our Q&A below. You can find more amazing images of Kay's artwork @kayvanblerk

What do you use to share you work with others?

I mostly use Instagram as it's a versatile platform to post my artworks and engage with an audience. I almost use it like an artist's journal, so it allows me to show hints of my personality as an artist and through my work.

What media do you mostly use?

I primarily use photography and oil paint in my work and never fail to get messy hands after a studio day.

What projects have you recently completed?

A major project I've recently finished would be the final module of my second year studying a Fine Art degree. It was interesting to finish it during quarantine while staying at my family home in Cornwall. I definitely benefited from it as I generated new ideas and techniques which I don't think I would have developed if I wasn't at home during quarantine. Although, it was a relief to finish considering the circumstances! 

What projects are you looking to do next?

I am currently collaborating with two friends of mine, who are musicians. I'm working with them separately on some cover art and branding, so I am enjoying these new projects. I also did a lockdown photo-shoot - for sure an interesting concept to photograph using a video call! In terms of my own work, I am planning a couple of large scale paintings exploring what I've created combining my photography and painting, which will be challenging but exciting.

What is your favourite thing about your own art practice and why?

I've never thought about what my favourite thing is before. I'd have to say that something key to my practice is listening to music while I work, whether it be painting, editing photos or even stretching my canvases. I think that would have to be my favourite thing. Listening to music while I work allows me to focus on what I'm doing and get in a groove, especially since I work abstractly and introspectively. Expressing the concept, myself and other influences in my work is always fuelled by music. After all, a bit of a dance while working never harms morale.

What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?

That's a hard question. Art brings social change; it celebrates, challenges and communicates. I guess I'd change the art industry to not only be more financially accessible for artists, but also for other people - in their education, social life and any other ways. 

It's great to see you have been part of an online exhibition. How have you found this process of working with other artists? 

My friend was curating an online exhibition recently to showcase artworks made during quarantine. It was a privilege to be part of an international collective of artists all showcasing their work. I was also in an end of year virtual exhibition with my university which was a virtual gallery along with my year group. I always enjoy working with other artists as it can generate the craziest and most creative ideas. It can be difficult sometimes, though, but generally it's encouraging and fun.

Has this process and involvement changed or developed your own art practice during quarantine?

I think, if anything, it's been almost liberating and a positive influence on my art practice despite being in quarantine. You'd think it would be restrictive during quarantine, and in some ways it has been frustrating, but it's allowed for creatives of all kinds to find alternative ways to keep making and to showcase their work using easier platforms. It's the reality of being a practising artist outside of an educational environment -  you're facing your art on your own and that's raw and exciting.  I accessed parts of my practice in ways I wouldn't have been able to if we weren't in quarantine, so my art practice has developed massively. Embracing this quarantine situation has had its rewards and I've benefited from a slower pace of life too. As an artist, it's pretty exciting to think that this time we're in, worldwide, is possibly generating a new movement in art - to be part of that is surreal.

It's interesting to see how you combine painting and photography together, is this an important process for you?

Yes, definitely! The relationship between my photography and painting has been something I've tried to harmonise for a while. Photography and painting are my main forms of expression. During quarantine, I believe I managed to create something unique combining the two mediums in the way I have. Being in quarantine influenced the conceptual ideas behind this technique. Marrying the two mediums opened an opportunity for my ideas to be drawn together succinctly and elevate my practice and work into a contemporary context. It's been awesome.

Your outdoor photography series explores a lot of natural beauty. Is there a particular artist who has inspired you?

For sure - Paul Bobko's photography is amazing.  I've admired his work for a while and it has greatly influenced my own photography. His series, Water Landscapes - Suspended energy, was my first encounter with his work and inspired me to approach photographing landscapes in a similar way. I love playing with distance and perspective in my photography to abstract the image. I like to draw attention to the intricate natural beauty found in landscapes and now more recently, in seascapes.  I aim to capture the abstract forms made by the water, much like Paul Bobko, to express how sublime nature is. 

It was such a pleasure to hear about Kay's art practice and as a whole with how artists are coping and adapting during quarantine. If anything, these past few months in the UK has shown us how art can be a healing process, a creative outlet, and something that we can all relate to and enjoy. There is nothing more important in these current trying times than doing what you love, and Kay has proven that with her breathtaking landscapes. We look forward to seeing how her art develops in the future.

If you are interested in being featured as an Artist of the Week you can fill out a short application form here.

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