Australian visual artist and author, Katherine Boland lives on the Far South Coast of New South Wales and her art practice is inspired and informed by the natural environment in which she lives and by her experience of and response to her surroundings while undertaking studio residencies in natural environments around the world.
Incorporating non-traditional media and processes in her work, Katherine seeks to distil classical interpretations of the beauty of the natural world in an organic, abstract space. She often begins the act of mark making by subjecting the surfaces of her large timber panels to the transformative power of flame; using fire itself as a drawing medium. Processes of inscribing and staining serve to capture the textures and colours of natural forms. Layers of wood stain, Japan black and liming solution are stripped back and more layers applied until a lustrous depth is achieved.
Rather than present a factual reality or reference recognisable forms, Katherine investigates the dynamics of landscape and fabricates an illusion in which meaning is shifted and interpretation becomes multifaceted. Her works are emotional landscapes, aimed to sweep you in, to entice you to forgo worldly material concerns; to be quiet and contemplate a state of being.
Much of Katherine's work explores her lifelong relationship with fire—a relationship which came into sharp focus when a fatal fire sparked the end of her 27 year marriage in 2002 (On Fire I series) and which continues to this day as firestorms rage across the country. (On Fire II series).
Most recently, Katherine was selected as one of 10 artists - 6 from Australia and 4 from the United States, to participate in OUTPUT: ART AFTER FIRE - a pilot project supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through their Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program. This project supports fire-affected communities in southeast NSW and in the American west by assisting visual artists and creative writers, whose practice has been affected by the recent fires and who would benefit from mentoring in field-based creative practice, to make new artwork about their experiences.
Katherine's life has also been influenced by the distant and ethereal horizon and all it represents. In her Horizons series, she blends memories from her childhood—two epic ocean voyages (from England to Australia and back again) and her life in the family home on the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria with her adult life living by Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne and the years she spent looking out to sea from a ridgetop on her coastal property at Tathra. Although Katherine interprets elements of the landscape quite boldly, the intangible and illusory underpins the work with a fragile, elusive quality. "At first seeming almost coolly rational with its long perspectives and strong structure, this work speaks both of the universality of the horizon and this artist's regular and ongoing engagement with it." Susan McCulloch OAM,
In her Shape of Things to Come series, Katherine gives physicality to the Buddhist/abstract concept of impermanence and change.Juxtaposed textures, surfaces and precisely placed planes of colour resemble cross-sections of the Earth's crust, alluding to the eternally shifting, converging and diverging seismic forces that shape the planet. The Ad Infinitum series speaks to another Buddhist concept—that of 'beginningless time'.
Katherine has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and overseas and has been the recipient of numerous art prizes and grants, including the Heysen Art Prize for Interpretation of Place in 2009. Her work is included in corporate, public and private collections in Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA and her memoir, Hippy Days, Arabian Nights, was published by Australian publisher, Wild Dingo Press in 2017. In 2019 Katherine graduated from the Melbourne Institute of Experiential and Creative Art Therapies (MIECAT) with a Graduate Diploma in Therapeutic Arts Practice.