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Katy Jade Dobson - About the '21 Grams' Collection

A painting is the artist’s sigh on a canvas, the silhouette of their shadow, and their 21 grams.

An early 20th Century physician hoped to measure the mass of the human soul. He believed it to weigh 21 grams. Thought to be as real and prominent as a vital organ, yet no physical attributes could be found. Artists and scientists alike hunted for information on the location of the soul in the body to find that it rests on nothing seen by the eyes. This ideal that represents an entire being does not exist in physicality, yet we see it.

Each piece is an appreciation of its subject and a love for my inspirations. A collection ensouled and a moment in time captured in a prism, reflecting my everything onto a canvas.

Physically, this collection is about texture and atmosphere. Years of techniques, new avenues and an ache to work on my subjects in such a way has driven the visuals of the paintings forward. Finding the best translation for the essence of the subjects I had admired. Each individual oil painting has seen its own process of layers added and taken away with large movements and minuscule detail. Understanding calm natured species, tender families, frenzied ferocity and frantic outbursts of wingspans were a catalyst that helped begin this body of work. Otherworldly figures adorned with symbolism, with studies based on colours and shades have added a dimension that laces together through each disjointed section in harmony. Soft sombre states of negative space, with a kaleidoscope of jewel colours and embellishments all build the subject up from the inside out.

View the collection

Q&A with Katy Jade Dobson

Hi Katy, are you excited about releasing your highly anticipated 2016 spring collection?

I am both excited and nervous, when you work solidly on something for months you lose sight of how other people will see it, instead you just enjoy what you're doing. It is only then when you finish, that you realise other people will see this work... I had a lot of fun working on this collection and I became quite attached to certain pieces, so it will be interesting to me to see what people think of them!

How does it feel having multiple gallery shows this year?

I always enjoy the shows; I find them really important as a way of seeing my paintings through other people’s eyes! I get to engage in conversation with everyone and listen to their opinions and also hear about them personally. So I feel very lucky to be doing these shows, they feel like a great follow through from starting a painting from scratch to seeing them on a wall in a wonderful gallery.

With your new spring collection '21 Grams' - what is your interpretation of your theme and can you tell us more about the subject matter you have portrayed?

The title of 21 Grams is based on a theory from an early 20th century physician (Duncan McDougal) who believed after conducting a series of experiments that the soul had a mass that weighed 21 grams. This theory was disproved, the weight he measured that left the body at the time of death was in fact other circumstances. However, I found it so intriguing to hear of this relentless hunt for the soul, which was believed at times to be a vital organ.

At the time of working on my new collection I had a list of new techniques I wanted to try, ideas I wanted to play around with and to throw myself into this collection whole heartedly. From the get go it was quite an important collection of paintings for me to work on and in this spirit of painting subjects I adored (wildlife families and scenes, figurative studies with symbolism and elegant birds) I felt like as an outpouring of everything I wanted to do, it was fitting to say that this was a soulful collection, and the title seemed fitting.

Can you tell us a bit more about your processes from an artistic point of view?

My processes are always ever changing, what is very important to me is to keep learning and improving with every painting I finish. Because of this my processes differ but some aspects will always stay the same. For me the process is playing, followed by skilfully adapting. It is mostly important to me to enjoy painting, anyone can try and define what art is in their own terms but really it is whatever you need it to be, and for me the activity of painting is fun and soulful. So for my work, I like to apply some logic and strategy, but the absent minded, playful areas are also just as important.

What inspires you to create such colourful art? Do you have any role models?

The colours seemed to happen by themselves, I don’t remember ever deciding to work in so much colour. As I have adapted my craft I think I have managed to handle the pigment much better and use it in a way that I enjoy. But I also love working with a darker palette sometimes. My inspiration with colour is Odilon Redon, a French abstract painter who I learnt about at school. I have many books of his work, and his whimsical backgrounds and the way he puts colour together has been a huge inspiration!