Featured Artist: Kate Banazi

FK talks to Kate Banazi who is a Sydney based artist who was featured in our Art Mill in December. Kate talks about her art, inspiration and makes us laugh!

Tell us about your work and how would you best describe your style.
I think I’m quite eclectic so its ever evolving , I’m constantly changing and mutating. Thats probably not the best word to use, but it certainly applies to me.
I work generally with silkscreen and water based ink, although everything always starts of with sketches in pencil on paper.
I love colour and often find it quite hard to control or restrain my colour usage.
The best comments I’ve had range from “Thats brilliant, I love it” to “Why is that the colour of cow shit, but not as good as cow shit?”

Where and when did you start making artwork?
I suppose right from the time I could make a mess and rearrange it into mess that I liked, so possibly from the very first time I picked my nose and wiped it on the wall.
My parents just didnt get that I was ahead of my time and that it was ART, funnily enough, and stifled this area of creativity with a wall scraper.
In their defence my parents were both creatives and had their own design studio, so I was taught to use a scalpel (you only need to slice the top of your finger off once or twice to learn how to use one properly) and typeset with cowgum as a way of earning my pocket money.

What lead you to working with screen prints and what do you love about it?
I started with screenprinting when I was at St Martins, I was doing a fashion degree, so it was textile based, and as much as I enjoyed it I was too easily distracted by making clothes to fit handsome male models, so I never really got hooked then, so I stuck to plain stuff. And knitting really, really badly.
Not too long after, I was a single parent with a hungry mouth to feed and needed a regular income so I became the assistant to my friend the screenprinter Kate Gibb whom pulled me out of the depths of post natal despair and along with other equally talented and brilliant friends, whipped me into a semi-presentable shape.
She’s an amazing inspiration and talent and got me hooked on the whole process, the mess, the riot of colour even the smell of ink and emulsion, I love it with a passion. So ultimately, its her fault, she (and paying the bills) made me do it.

Tell us about your collaborative work and what do you enjoy most about working with photographers?
I think I can isolate myself very easily just by putting my head down and working, so its great to meet like-minded and incredibly positive people, bounce around ideas, disagree, laugh, have a social life even! I really have a great deal of respect for all the people whom I work with and the way they often give over their work with no limitations on what I can do to it. I think that takes a huge leap of faith on their part because creating it in the first place is an often pretty personal experience and then to let someone else loose on it is a very generous gesture.
Each photographer has their own style so this pushes me to try new things and think differently, I want them to be as pleased with the results as I am. Also, I love photography and am in awe of how a great photographer can capture a moment of light or emotion, its quite beautiful. There’s some photographers that I’ll be working with later this year which I’m really excited about, as it’ll be work that we will be creating together.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Everywhere and anywhere really, I’m hardly a purist.
Telly is a seriously undervalued and derided resource, I love the telly.
Science and mathematics fascinate me, and books and novels that I keep going back to, Saturday by Ian McEwan and American Gods by Neil Gaiman are two superb ones that are really visual and truly inspiring.  I love books, old family photographs, printed ephemera, so going through the local library or my pretty huge collection of books and ‘stuff’ is always a good start.
Working with great clients will always give me a kick, and also being a relatively recent transplant to Sydney,  I think I’ll consider myself a tourist here for a long time to come, so just exploring the city by foot with my trusty hound Stan is great. My friends think its funny that I can tell them more seriously inane facts about their city than they ever knew was possible. I think as well with due consideration, I should say Alistair, my husband and my son, Milan, are two truly inspiring and supportive men, full of constructive criticism and more than ready to make the dinner if needs be.

What is your creative process and what do you do when you’re stuck on ideas?
Since I became part of the Jacky Winter Group, I get many of my commissions through them, so often have a pretty tight brief to work with, which will involve sourcing or taking my own photographs, sketching roughs and spending time playing with colour and texture. With a brief there’s usually a tight deadline, so really there’s no time to get stuck.
With personal work, the fact that I am really messy often influences the speed of my roll, as when I’m having a tidy up or attempting to find something else then I’ll come across something unexpected. Out of the chaos comes a happy accident.
When I’m really stuck I watch Magnum PI and drink too much beer or eat kilos of chocolate with Marcela Restrepo. It doesnt usually help at all, but its always a giggle.

Where would you love to see your work and who would you love to work with?
The Emirates stadium at my beloved Arsenal FC, in the toilets , on the pitch anywhere, they’re my team.
I’d love to work with some of my old college friends again and there are some great bands I’d like to work with.
I’d happily have a play at the Powerhouse Museum or the Library of New South Wales with their amazing archives of photographs.
The list is endless.

What new things do you have in store for 2010?
I try not to plan too much in advance, else something will always jump up to bite you on the bum (in a good way, if thats possible, as well as bad)but if all goes to plan, I’ll be in the US and a visit home to London, I’ll have jetlag dribble down my chin and spilt coffee on my shirt for much of the time,no doubt, then my family are coming to visit, which’ll be great as I haven’t seen some of them for two years. I’ll be meeting one of my nephews for the first time too, so I think I’m going to be spending a month babysitting whilst my sister is snoring on the sofa. Should prove interesting.



  • I LOVE Kate’s work. Her prints are brilliant, full of layers and colour….. But her stews and puddings are even better!

  • Isadora Bassington-Smythe says:

    Kate is an exceptional artist. The fact that she is constantly evolving (mutating) gives her work its signature. A force to be reckoned with.

  • So great to read about Kate’s background here and to find out more about her process. She’s a huge inspiration and support to me. I’ve just started screen printing and getting to understand the process much more. Seeing Kate’s work and knowing a little more about the effort and craft that goes into it just makes it even more special.

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