With SALA festival on our doorstep, there are many artists who have been preparing their work for exhibiting. One of these talented and passionate beings is Cathy Gray, who explains Adelaide's art scene as "one of the most supportive cities to be exhibiting and creating art.”
Gray is a mother of two, whose work has blossomed as she has progressed into more detailed mandalas. So much so, she took on art as a full time job in August, 2014.
The most interesting and awe-inspiring concept of her work is that she doesn’t plan any of the pieces. She said, “the only plan I have when I begin a piece is whether it will be a circle of a square. From there I start with just a dot in the middle.” Occasionally sketching out a few designs before going over them in pen. Each line is drawn free hand with no help from a computer or any technology. Although a strenuous and time consuming process, the passion and love she has for her ink work shines through in each piece.
Tools of the trade include:
✓ Archival ink pen- “I use about 15 pens per artwork”
✓ Super smooth hot press paper
How long does each piece take you?
The longest one piece has taken me was about 200 hours. I spent so long on it and then I didn’t like it. I woke up in the morning and I had to do something to it and slipped, so then came a big black circle around it. As soon as I did that I said to myself, oh wow, I really love that now. The mistakes are all apart of my work, but each piece will take up to 200 hours.
Do you have any inspiration?
Not really, it’s all in my head… it’s a bit of a worry isn’t it! I don’t really know if I have an inspiration, there isn’t really anything I look at. I have done some research previously for my butterfly piece. It was after four rows of butterflies that I decided I wanted to do the whole piece as butterflies, so I did some research then. Otherwise it's all in my head.
Why do you draw in black and white?
This work needs the calming of the black and white. Black and white can really settle your mind and visually settle your eye. I’ll never do these in colour. I do have another range, which is my décor range, which is more playful. I’ll print those in any colour, but not these.
How would you describe your work?
Intensive and precise. It's a labour of love and they are a labour!! Don't get me wrong, I love the process.
What is the hardest thing you find with your art?
It's knowing when to stop. When I've finished the majority of the piece I have to set a time with the photographer or i'd keep going, and going, and going! The more pressure and time constraints, the more difficult it becomes... but the actual process isn't hard, I really love my work. Art is in my genes too, I've always just done it. Not to this extent, but this is my passion. It's where I want to be.
Who are your main customers?
I've sold to people in England, Singapore and America, which were all through Instagram actually! That's how I get the majority of my customers. My main sellers are actually males who are generally accountants, surgeons or people who like numbers. I think it's because they like the precision, my pattern work is very math based so I think that's why they are attracted to them.
Each of Gray's pieces are so detailed that every time you come back to it, you'll see something different. Each artwork means something different to each person, evoking different emotions depending on the individual. Gray explained, “I want it to give you something… it’s about what it does for you, that’s what art is all about. To me it’s all about putting a little of you into the art.”
The piece below is about how us, as humans, interact with the environment, the cyclical movement of interaction. To others, it’s an English Garden as an areal shot and to another, the back of a watch or clock, the cogs intertwining. To me, it represents ripples in a pond as the droplets spiral out.
We recommend checking out Cathy’s exhibition at this years SALA Festival. The astonishing and beautiful art that she creates is breathtaking and you cannot miss seeing the large scale mandalas in person!
Where: Adelaide Convention (Exhibition) Center
When: Opening night Wednesday, August 5, 6-7:30pm- continuing until the 30th of August.
All images supplied via Cathy Gray & Cathy Gray Ink Work Art Facebook