Katie Hallam - Scottish Emerging Sculptor Award Finalist

Katie Hallam - Scottish Emerging Sculptor Award Finalist


Where are you from and where did you study?

I’m Katie Hallam, a visual artist and sculptor living and working in Perth and originally from Nottinghamshire. I studied photography in Leeds and then worked as a photographer and style director for a portrait franchise for a number of years before deciding to go back into education to train as an art teacher. I studied a BA (Hons) at Bishop Grosseteste University Lincoln in Education Studies with Art and Design and then a PGCE Art and Design at Cambridge University. Ten years later, my main career has been in art education in both primary and secondary sectors. More recently I took a year out to complete an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at Edinburgh College of Art with the aim to develop my artistic practice alongside teaching part time.

How did you start making art?

I’ve always had an interest in the arts, my Grandad taught photography and was a fantastic draughtsman and from an early age I was encouraged to enjoy using the camera. My current practice continues to reference photography; the materiality of a photograph and construction of the digital image. There continues to be a common thread that connects this medium even from 2D to 3D. I have a fascination with the construction of imagery and the technological devices we use to capture them and believe that this is a signature style that will continue.

Which art trends or ideas inspire your current work?

At the moment my research has led me to look at geological matter in sculpture, the connection to land and place and the mineral qualities found in these raw materials. Other trends that intrigue me involve the chemical reactions of materials using electrolytic processes; the slow growth of crystallisations onto other surfaces using this method is something I’d like to explore further in my own work.


Tell me about your recent work?

With continued demand for refined mineral resources, geological matter is increasingly presented as a substance that is ascribed value through its conversion into a product, particularly products associated with technology. My work is an amalgamation of these interests including the physicality of ancient geology and the dematerialised aesthetics of contemporary technology. I address the physical dimensions of this materiality, the concern of natural resource depletion as we irreversibly change the Earth's landscape.

My current sculptures consider the creation of futuristic landscapes, installations of geological forms and electric pallets of printed photography combined together. I use dramatic and physical ‘quarry’ like materials, textures and colours that challenge a viewer's perception of object and landscape and also allow the opportunity to open up conversations about the increase and impact digital detritus are having directly on and within the earth’s surface.

Tell me about your favourite medium.

I’m very experimental in my approach to figuring out which mediums work best for the effect I’m trying to create. Aside from my passion for photography, I’m really enjoying exploring the qualities of metal, especially aluminium at the moment, and how metal combines or contrasts with colourful surfaces or raw materials. I’ve also been exploring different ways to cast unusual forms and expanding foam seems to be featuring a lot in larger works. I’m interested in the transfer of pattern, imagery and surface texture and I’d like to try engraving or embossing these elements into metals moving forward.

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! especially in Scotland and with the geological interest I have in my current work. I use the outdoors a lot to record different landscapes, go to abandoned quarries and collect an enormous amount of rocks! I also make time to visit exhibitions on a regular basis and I'm particularly interested in seeing the variations of how artwork is displayed and presented.



Is Scotland a supportive place for new artists?

For me, I absolutely believe so. Since my MA I’ve made a network of contacts through local residences, exhibitions, teaching and most importantly being a member of art organisations that keep us up to date with opportunities to exhibit and that offer funding and support. There are communities of artists all over different parts of Scotland and the best way to be involved is to go and have the conversations, get involved in art fairs, go to PV’s and don't be afraid to take risks.

How do you develop your art skills?

My creative time is split between the classroom and art studio so I’m constantly in a flow organising, experimenting, testing and thinking. The residency I did last year with the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop gave me more of a direct focus on developing specific skills in casting and ceramics so I really value these opportunities in continuing development in larger art communities rather than just in my studio space. I work quite spontaneously with several projects on the go at any one time, I prefer to come back to ideas to reflect on the development then alter if needed. I use sketchbooks to draw out initial designs but quickly move onto tactile experiments and exploring materials which support the progress towards final outcomes.

How do you define success as an artist?

For me, success comes in many forms but it’s about being able to celebrate all the little wins as well as the big ones; having the freedom to create and meet my artistic goals whether big or small and to make sure I use my capabilities to the fullest.



Why did you apply for the Scottish Sculptor Award?

I am very grateful for the local opportunities that have been presented to me since completing my MA and the decision to move towards a sculptural direction within my practice. I feel that I am now at a pivotal point to realise my ideas within the public realm and to challenge myself with more ambitious materials, construction and community value within my work. I saw this award as an opening to support emerging artists and encourage more accessibility/visibility  for the arts across Scotland.

Tell me what your reaction was to visiting Edinburgh Park?

The site has a huge impact both visually and culturally with its plans to develop business, housing and leisure facilities and I was blown away with the detail of the scale model of the development we were introduced to! I have passed through Edinburgh Park many times on the tram so to get an insight to its future was really exciting. The grounds impressed me with the eclectic artworks already installed and this shows that the art culture is a major part of Edinburgh Park’s ethos.

What impact would you like your art piece to have on Edinburgh Park – if you win?

I would like the artwork to enhance the environment visually, adding colour and impact to the surrounding environment but to also connect to the creative interests of the variety of visitors, residents and workers who will experience the art every day. I believe public art has a big role to play to inform, inspire and connect and I aim to offer this in my work.

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