Manc of the Month: Kat Preston

We met the lovely Kat Preston recently and loved chatting with her. Not only is she friendly and welcoming and a pleasure to talk to, she also complimented Cotton On MCR and what we are doing – instant win! Her work and the meaning behind it is fascinating and really important to see and hear about too. So read on to find out why her message is so important, and, for the first time in 2 years, we have a totally different answer to what artwork the Manc of the Month would chose to live in!

‘You Are’

Cotton On MCR: Please introduce yourself and your work to our Cotton On MCR readers.

Kat Preston: ‘I am a painter and sculptor originally from the Shropshire countryside.’

‘My work celebrates female sexuality and empowerment. I create exaggerated female forms to reflect my felt experience of living as a woman. The work you see has strong curves and powerful poses. They are an attempt to embrace my own insecurities and turn them into something powerful and beautiful. My work is also my rebellion against today’s beauty ideals that we see incessantly in the media.’

CO: Your work is currently up at Home mcr as part of their ‘Manchester Open‘. How’s that going for you?

KP: ”The Manchester Open’ was a massive springboard for me. Seeing my work in a really big gallery made me realise that I want to produce large sculptures. That my work has to be big. That’s my next ambition.’

CO: You also took part in the West Art Collective event, ‘Un Censored’, at Antwerp Mansion. How was that event?

KP: ‘The event was wild – it’s a fascinating building with great potential for artists.’

CO: We’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day this month, and we have wrote an article in the past about the lack of female artists showing in our galleries. What are your thoughts on that?

KP: ‘Things are changing all the time but the dominant voice is still male. If you’re female you have to work harder to find your truth and then to find the words, pictures, forms to express it. And then you need the strength to put it out there – cos it’s still the outsider voice. Anything that helps support this process is great.’

CO: What advice would you give to other artists out there?

KP: ‘To keep believing in yourself and the work you create. I had a really hard time with art school because I felt myself being guided toward making work that wasn’t right for me. Luckily I had the strength to leave. I really believe that if your work comes from an authentic place it is worth continuing with. And if you can keep at it – creating work that’s true to you – that work will have great value.

[CO: Side note, so many people have said how art school/uni push you to do work that isn’t what you want to do. We explore this more in ‘The Problem with my Art Degree‘]

‘Touch Me’

CO: What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

KP: ‘As well as learning to express myself and finding the skills to say what I want to say, the biggest challenges have been the relative isolation of being an artist. If you join a normal company, and have a normal job, there’s such a support structure. If you’re making fine art the only feedback is from yourself – you’re the finance department, and the marketing department and the factory – and there’s no-one there when you need jollying along. And it’s hard, when you’re on you’re own, to keep believing this simple stuff that you make is enough – and it’s worth pushing out there for others to see and enjoy.

CO: What’s next for Kat? Do you have any more exhibitions/ projects upcoming?

KP: ‘I am taking a 6 month road trip across Europe in a van to learn more about sculpture. I want to go to Italy to learn new sculpture techniques and to look at the work of sculptors like Donatello and Michelangelo.’

CO: Wow that sounds amazing! We’ll keep an eye on you Instagram then for all your pic. Outside of art, what are your hobbies and interests?

KP: ‘Nature has always been a place where I reconnect and find inspiration – and I love cats. I’m really gonna miss mine when I’m away.’

CO: And lastly, if you could live in any artwork or painting, which would it be and why?

KP: ‘It would have to be one of my own, cos I wouldn’t want to be in anyone else’s world. But I haven’t painted it yet – perhaps it’d be a painting of a strong woman on top of an Italian mountain holding a cat…

‘Ode to Willendorf’

See more of Kat’s work on her website (katpreston.co.uk). And go see her work at the Home mcr exhibition which is on till the end of March.


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