Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands

26 May 2020

As part of our Great Scots Exhibition, artist Kate Downie RSA has created a series of unique monoprints at her studio in Fife. We thank Michael Wolchover for the terrific working photos.

Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Kate Downie at Birchtree Studios, 2020

These new prints are about the activities of people tending to others, in parallel to those tending to nature and growing food. These two interconnected activities - of care and nurture in this truly difficult time - lead me to finding a language to express them, and are represented by the printing of old gardening & work gloves ‘in conversation with’ plants gathered daily and carefully in hedgerows and woods near the studio, as well as in the wilder corners of my own garden.

Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Kate Downie at Birchtree Studios, 2020

These plants in turn become my diary of the passing days of a glorious spring in the time of Covid 19. I press them, study them, marvel at them and slowly work out how our human hands can return to a harmony with nature through nurture. Caring for nature and each other is an absolute, not an option if we are to thrive with this beautiful planet into the future.

Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Big Healing II, monoprint
Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Big Healing I, monoprint

In the making of these prints I have had a marvellous time exploring many of my favourite papers, playing with their different properties of translucency, opacity, weight, texture and absorbency - I am passionate about paper, both humble and of the highest quality.

Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Kate Downie at Birchtree Studios, 2020
Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Right Hand Man I, monoprint
Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Right Hand Man II, monoprint

There is always something new to learn and printmaking adventures to be had with my trusty Hawthorn etching press here in Birchtree Studios. Today I completed the first 11 prints by carving a Chinese Seal of a gardener’s hand with a blackbird alighting on the index finger. As I write this text they are always in earshot, though perhaps not quite that tame!

Kate Downie, 2020
Kate Downie | Compassionate Hands
Compassionate Hands monoprints, hanging at Birchtree Studios, 2020

For her Great Scots in Isolation Film, Kate Downie and her mother participated in a parallel painting project. Please view below.

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