top of page

Photographs or paintings

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Kate Woods blurs the lines between photography and painting. Here she talks about moving between mediums, early inspirations, and her toddler's first encounter with paint.

What materials are integral in your work?

I make maquettes from cardboard, so a glue gun is essential! I work with water based paint, usually acrylic or gouache, and then a camera. I use ‘found’ photographs, prints or paintings which I rephotograph for the background or collage aspect of the final constructed photograph. The appropriated images are usually sourced from op-shops but good ones seem to be thin on the ground, and expensive now, so I’m exploring other avenues. A photograph I’m working on at the moment is using a scene from a really old (and quite badly painted) music box that I got from a garage sale when I was five. I also use Photoshop as one of my tools.

What’s the most memorable response you’ve had to your work?

Quite often people refer to the photographs as paintings. I don’t mind this at all as I’m really interested in the relationship between painting and photography. However, if it’s someone that owns one I always feel a pang of worry in case they have something in a medium that they didn’t mean to get and they may want to return it!

What project are you working on now?

A series of works for a group exhibition at Bartley + Company Art in June.

What is your favourite show you’ve seen lately?

Pocket Histories at The Dowse (toured by Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery). It was a really tight show which was impressive considering all the mediums it covered but that is what made it so special too. It included Vita Cochran’s embroidery, Isobel Thom’s ceramics and Imogen Taylor’s paintings - I’m a big fan of all of their practices. I liked that it was co-curated by an artist (Imogen Taylor with curator Ioana Gordon-Smith). It was looking at the visual language of modernism and its relationship to contemporary practice which is something I’ve always been drawn to and everything had such a wonderful tactile quality. It was a completely feel good show. I also enjoyed the considered exhibition design.

What work of art most affected you personally and why?

I think quite a few works have, over different points of my life, affected me but one early one was Here I give thanks to Mondrian, 1961 by Colin McCahon. I worked as a part time Gallery Host at Auckland Art Gallery while I studied at Elam (a long time ago now!). It really trained me in the art of looking as for almost four years I did repetitive loops of the same galleries. I think it must have been on display a lot and I never got tired of that painting. I don’t think I can really describe why exactly as it was more a feeling that the composition and paintwork gave me. I guess it impressed upon me that a powerful painting can look deceptively simple on first glance, the strength of geometry and also how important it is to look back at art history before moving forward. For me it’s also kind of like re-listening to a music album that you used to listen to heaps at a particular point in time. It reminds me of a particularly fun and in flux time in my life as an art student.


What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

'Where am I going again?' I have a bad homing pigeon tendency to subconsciously revert to my most popular driving route (at the moment my daughter’s favourite playground).

Where were you 3 hours ago?

In the garden overseeing one of my toddler’s first painting experiments. It mainly involved a brush making holes in soggy paper and me screaming 'No! Stop! Please don't eat that handful of paint!'

What’s the most interesting think you’ve read or seen this week?

I was reading an intro to a story by Haruki Murakami. He was discussing how with one of his first pieces of writing, written in Japanese, he wasn’t happy with the final effect. He decided to try rewriting the story in English and translate it back into Japanese. It worked. It made me think of the parallel in art in terms of moving between mediums and dimensions to work through or translate an idea.


bottom of page