ARTISTIC INSIGHT: CATALINA M. CHRISTENSEN

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It is very satisfying to walk in the desert collecting colourful rocks and to return to my studio to grind them into pigments.

My work is inspired by wild and isolated landscapes, which evoke in me a sense of freedom, and by my growing awareness that many of these places are threatened by human activities. This eventually drove me to work exclusively with natural materials and to adopt the technique of egg-tempera.

Fundamental to my practice are the pigments, powders and tints I use to create the drawings and paintings. I consider them as important as the works themselves; they have become art objects of their own. This is why I like to exhibit them along my paintings and drawings.

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My experiments with natural pigments started in the summer of 2015, while in my native Colombia. Having always been fascinated with ancient rock paintings; that summer I came across some amazing examples created by pre-Colombian peoples, on the outskirts of a remote town called Sachica. Despite little protection from the elements, they remain in good condition millennia after their creation. I have felt drawn to this region since my childhood; it was once a sea until the rise of the Andean mountains drained it, transforming it into a desert of many colours, littered with fossils. Today, most of fossils are gone – sold to tourists by local children.

It is very satisfying to walk in the desert collecting colourful rocks and to return to my studio to grind them into pigments. This summer I extracted over 35 kilos of pigments in 37 nuanced varieties of earthy colours. These are the pigments I have used to create my ‘earth-inspired’ works.

For my ‘cold-inspired’ works, I could not collect rocks to make pigments. Available rocks are mostly hard volcanic materials, and their blue-grey colour is only found on their surface; and they are often only found in protected locations like Antarctica. I realised I would have to find these colours in other materials. After numerous experiments, I found that indigo dyes and metal powders, when chemically corroded, produce the desired pigments.

I have started a collection of all the natural materials used; whether gathered and processed or sourced and manipulated. I have adopted a scientific approach, cataloguing each of them with the intention of creating a comprehensive collection of pigments in the future.

If you are interesting in bidding for one of Catalina’s pieces in the Clyde & Co Award Award Auction click here to find out more.

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