Kate Piekutowski is an Australian, Polish-born artist predominantly working within the area of printmaking. Born in Hobart, Tasmania, Kate completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2011 from the University of Tasmania and later completed a Masters of Fine Arts in 2013.
Through the medium of etching, she explores the concept of cultural identity. Her works reflect on a disconnection with her Polish heritage and ancestors as well as discusses the history of Europe and its folkloric background. Being a first-generation child of migrants, she is intrigued by the concept of belonging.
Piekutowski intends to trigger within her etchings a sense of nostalgia and memories of a ‘homeland’, as well as depicting her own personal naivety of a romanticized world.
Her beautiful, highly individualised and labour-intensive etchings are all hand printed, and can incorporate hand-colouring, spray paint, gold leaf and gouache, making each of her etchings an individual artwork, regarded as “unique state” pieces produced in limited editions.
As well as working as an artist, Kate also facilitates printmaking workshops. She has exhibited widely in solo & group exhibitions in Tasmania and Melbourne and is represented in Queensland by Tiffany Jones Fine Art Consultant.
Kate has also travelled widely for her art practice, completing artist residencies in Portugal, Italy, Greece, New Zealand and most recently in India. As well as continuing to work for exhibitions in Australia, she is also working towards branching out to London, Italy and New York.
The Art of Layering
An explanation by Kate Piekutowski of her etching technique:
The printing process and the process of layering is an integral part of my artistic practice. These works are multi-layered etchings, and all vary in their process, some are more complicated than others, but are distinctly individual depending on the construction of composition.
These prints are using a traditional technique of etching onto steel plates, which is in many ways a dying art form. I work with heavy etching plates and my practice is incredibly labour intensive. It requires a lot of upper body strength and physical work in shifting the etching plates between my studios and printing presses.
When preparing an etching, I am required to firstly file the sharp edges of the metal plate, use wet-and-dry sand paper to remove the initial surface, use ammonia to degrease the surface and then cover the plate in a thin layer of bitumen. When that’s dry, I then use a metal instrument to draw into the plate, the bitumen works as a resist.
I pre-prepare all my compositions before I create the etching as the drawn process eliminates variables and potential mistakes. These compositions also need to be reversed as with printmaking, when you print an image, it is of course reversed.
When I have drawn on the image, I then submerge it in a diluted nitric acid bath. This basically is eating away at the visible lines and the bitumen acts as a resist. When the etching is ready, I take the plate out of the bath, remove the bitumen, and it is ready for printing. Each print is hand printed using an etching press and hand-colour, spray paint, gold-leaf and gouache is applied.