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Shooting Kate Tucker at her studio was just a matter of time – we are good friends with a large social circle in common. Kate was coming from a busy 2022 with exhibitions all over Australia, but when it turned out she would be back in Melbourne for the new year, I knew the moment had come!

To my surprise, I found her studio inside a gin factory. Kate tells me the temperature control is propitious both for the art and for a snug creative space for herself throughout the year. Though far from big, her atelier bursts with a unique energy.

Kate’s creative process involves a combination of canvas and ceramic. This latter often takes the shape of intricate pedestals – in turns heavily decorated or left uncovered. Balanced on top are abstract paintings in a primarily earthly palette.

And throughout, splashes  of vibrant color and a perplexing amount of detail have you rotating around the pieces a while, never ceasing to discover things you hadn’t notice before.

What is something that I would be surprised to find in your space?
I don’t think there are many surprises – things that come into the studio just have a tendency to be cut up and put into the paintings! The work seems to absorb the studio into it...

Describe your ideal workspace in three words…
Light, air, headspace.

What's the best advice you've been given?
Mistakes will happen. When they do, don’t obsess.

Where did you find the courage to follow your own path?
I hurt my back and had to stop sitting at the computer for a few months; it was the spark that made me shift to art, which is something I'd always wanted to do.

I became a parent not long after, and knowing my life would now be witnessed by my son, with all that love and belief, helped me shed all those doubts and fears.

What is the most productive practical tip you could impart to a fellow creative?
There are things that come easily, and you need to build your work around them– create some consistency around them. Then, there are the levels you’re always wanting to reach that keep you growing and pushing. That rigour is essential, but you can’t do it every day.

You need to show up and have some structure and something to go on with, regardless of where your head is at that day. Through work, inspiration and progress always come. But don’t underestimate the importance of forward motion and trusting that some things will make sense only later.
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
That the observations, instincts, and ideas I kept hidden were a strength. They would become the basis of my work, but only once I learned to stop censoring myself so much.

What do you do to centre yourself and find focus?
I go walking and observe the seasons on the plants in people’s gardens.

What are you most proud of in the space?
I’m proud of how adaptable my practice has become. I’ve had many different studios of varying sizes and levels of comfort. During lockdowns, I couldn’t access my studio at all. I’ve learned that the space does affect the work but never in a negative way. Often, a challenge in the space is an opportunity creatively.

This studio is spread across two rooms, one with an excellent big sink and the other with windows to the street. I’ve separated the making of ceramics and painting more than before, and that’s working for me!

How would you describe your neighbourhood?
Brunswick is like a city unto itself: everything you need is here if you know how to find it. You can sense the layers of history and culture; it’s active and full of creativity and contrasts.

What can you see outside your windows?
I see the street, which I’m grateful for – art studios are often tucked into the back of places. What I do isn’t public, so it shouldn’t matter, but I hear snippets of conversation as people pass, see the light change, catch the shifts in the weather… It’s anchoring.

What is your dream project?
A major exhibition at a museum, while I’m young enough to enjoy and attend it!

Favourite song/band while working?
This constantly changes; I consume a lot of music and move through seasons with what works for me. Recently, I’ve been listening to Jake Xerxes Fussell, Big Thief, and Kae Tempest.

What is your most important artist's tool?
My scissors are always within arm’s reach.

The one practice that has changed your life the most? Meditation, running, writing etc.
I’ve journalled and written notes and ideas for as long as I remember. I can’t imagine life without private writing.

Who is a stranger that changed your life?
David Attenborough. He’s a beautiful example of humanity.


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