Art and whisky month in Scotland

Originally from the Netherlands, Kate’s diverse career path has taken her from semi-professional tennis in her youth, to civil engineering at Delft University of Technology, a PhD in Coastal Engineering from the University of Aberdeen, to fine art.

She has been privately tutored by various established artists in Scotland undertaking apprenticeships in drawing, printmaking and painting.

Now as an award-winning artist Kate draws upon her engineering background to creatively explore Scottish cultural heritage, landmarks and industries. Kate’s previous projects examined life at the shipyards along the waterfront of the oil capital of Europe, Aberdeen, in collaboration with Naval Architect and Marine Consultant Tymor Marine; and focussed on the helicopter, a machine of considerable engineering sophistication and refinement, playing a unique role in modern aviation at Aberdeen Heliport in collaboration with the largest helicopter services company in the world, Canadian Holding Company.

Kate’s latest project tackles life behind the iconic whisky industry animating coopers and coppersmiths who play a key part within this Scottish economic and cultural asset and who combine the very best of the traditional and the modern. Kate draws on location, witnessing first-hand the work and production at Speyside Cooperage, one of several working cooperages in the UK, and at Whisky Distilleries Cragganmore and Tomatin in Scotland.

Speyside Cooperage has produced the finest casks from the best American Oak since 1947. The dynamic movement of the coopers dancing around their barrels, busy shaping, shaving and charring casks instantly captivated her. With their aprons, traditional tools and hand-crafted methods it is like entering a Van Gogh painting.

The drawing is transformed into a limited edition copper plate etching. The drawing onto the copper plate is built up in layers. Each layer exposing unprotected copper is bathed in acid. The acid bites into the bare metal. The length of time the plate stays in acid depends on the depth of incision needed. The plate is then inked up and put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper. The paper picks up ink from the etched lines making a print. Kate also leaves a lot of dark areas of ink on the plate, carefully wiping to add tone, texture and atmosphere to the composition.  Every print within the limited edition is therefore unique, because of the application of various wiping techniques. James McNeill Whistler, one of the principal American artists of the late 19th century, also used this technique emulating with a wide range of wiping effects of mist, sunset or night.

Kate is also inspired by earlier achievements of the Scottish artist McBey, a self-made man, official war artist, with prints in collection in museums and public art galleries worldwide and an immense collection at Aberdeen Art Gallery. In London 1923 McBey met a keen art collector and director of a wine merchant, planning to release a fine Scotch whisky on the American market. Outstanding details were the name and the label. McBey, a keen sailor, recommended Cutty Sark, which had just returned from years of trading and was a lot in the news, as an admirable name for a fine ‘Scots’ Whiskey, drawing the design of the label on a napkin. Cutty Sark was launched to immediate international acclaim becoming one of the best-selling Scotch whisky in America