Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Catherine Kaufman, UK

Soft Sculpture and Mixed Media Artist


Catherine holds a First Class BA Honors Degree in Fine Art she is now studying towards her Masters Degree in Fine Art. She also holds a City and Guilds in Soft Furnishing and Upholstery. In her practice and work she takes her inspiration from nature ,romantic myth ,legend and literature. She works with the female figure and body in her sculpture. She tries to express the narrative of the figure from the myth or legend and then Re -tells the tale from a female emotional perspective . The transformation that occurs with the felt during the sculpting process is very magical . Using needle felt for her felt work gives her great control over her work it is very physical and labor intensive great patience is needed for her work . This gives her work an emotional charge and the energy which she hopes to pass on to the viewer. The aim of her work ultimately is to promote female craft skills as aesthetic piece of high art .


CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKER (CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist

CATHERINE KAUFMAN(CK)Yes I think I did as I always made things including clothes from being a very young child . I always remembered the 3D things I made at school including a Totem Pole.

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

CK It was using sand in my nursery school making shapes of star fish from the moulds.


CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio

CK Yes at In Manchester UK


CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

CK If I am felting after sorting the children to school .I then card the wool I need to use for the day work on my figure. I then start to work on the needle felt intensively for about 6 hours with a break for lunch. I then put away all my work and pick up the children and make the dinner bedtime etc......

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

CK Both really the process is so important to find the figure in the felt.


CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

CK I think in my work it is all uncertain until its made it creates itself really .


CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

CK Yes my felting needles heavy weight and my Janome needle felting machine.

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

CK I research my figures thoroughly before I work on them so I can find a thread and a character of my figure to put in the work.


CWTM How do you know when to stop -when do you consider a piece actually finished?

CK I consider a piece finished when it tells me and I don’t want to touch it again and let go.


CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is...

CK nature


CWTM Favorite quote?

CK Make hay while the sun shines.


CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking ?

CK In the morning it seems.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

CK The total freedom I have.


CWTM Best advice you have ever received?

CK Just do it.


CWTM Worst advice you have ever received?

CK To listen to others about your work be true to your heart.


CWTM Best part of the day?

 CK To be alone with your work.


CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?

CK Germaine Greer, Judy Chicago, Louise Bourgeois, Egon Schiele , Tracey Emin and Manet.


CWTM What inspires your creativity ?

 CK My emotions and feelings.

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

CK  The work of Françoise Hoffman and Thomas Horst who both work in felt

CWTM You’d be lost without

CK My car.


CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?

CK More work and get some time to look in the mirror .

CWTM Your favorite luxury in life

CK Bathing.


CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

CK No not really but the internet is great for networking and showing your work around the world.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

CK Creating and the freedom to be an artist is wonderful.


CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

CK I think it is very important to have textile art recognized by the art world as it is one of the earliest forms of craft and art! Now Women have more freedom and education it is necessary to carry on and promote women’s craft skills as high art .

CWTM What is next for you?

CK I am aiming on finishing my Masters in Fine Art September 2014 and then the World is my Oyster… Who Knows?