Kathryn O’Kell

About Kathryn

Kathryn has been making woodcarvings for over thirty years, initially three-dimensional and then moving on to the relief carvings she makes today. This shift in style came from a love of drawing, involving the exploration of composition, colour and texture, using gouges and chisels as well as paint. Birds have been a constant fascination to Kathryn and she treasures the bird watching books from her childhood. She sways that she only needs tolook out of her shed window and her inspiration is flying past, circling overhead or resting on the woodshed. 

Finding the methodical process of transforming a rough cut plank into a finished piece meditative and incredibly satisfying, Kathryn works in English lime wood. The painting can be more time consuming than the carving, with paint being applied, sanded and re-applied until she is happy with the piece. 

Kathryn tends to begin with an idea, such as the species of a bird, its landscape and a colour and the carving then develops organically from there. She says that she is never entirely sure what she wants to make until it is made. Similarly, knowing when a piece is finished is down to pure instinct. It is possible to overwork a carving, in which case it is re-carved and re-coloured until Kathryn feels it is complete.