Programme: Tapestry - BA (Hons)

Year: 2004

Working at the intersection between art and science is renowned artist, and 2004 Tapestry graduate, Katie Paterson, who found the programme's lack of boundaries allowed her to develop a cross-disciplinary approach.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art

I chose to study Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art as I was drawn to ECA's unique creative history, the diversity of students, the scope of the departments and, in particular, the openness of what was the Tapestry department (now Intermedia). I studied with a supportive group of students whom I’m still very close with.

The tutors in my department and school were a great support. I loved living in Edinburgh (the home of my current gallery, the Ingleby Gallery) and during my studies I went on a fantastic exchange programme to Strasbourg. Studying at ECA gave me time for reflection in a supportive and stimulating environment where I was encouraged to experiment, particularly in the Tapestry department, where the lack of boundaries allowed me to develop my cross disciplinary practice. In fact, the keynote speech by prolific architect Norman Foster at my ECA graduation ceremony centred on the increase in this breaking down of boundaries. The experimentation that the course allowed had a significant impact on the artwork I make today.

"I am an artist often working with scientists in my exploration of time, the evolution of nature and the cosmos by way of moonlight, melting glaciers, and dead stars. I am like a magpie, collecting and piecing together ideas from a multitude of places. The imagination always plays a key role."

Katie Paterson, 2004 BA (Hons) Tapestry alumna

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving Edinburgh College of Art

Since leaving ECA I have gone on to study a Master’s Degree at the Slade School of Art, London, I’ve undertaken a number of residencies, taken part in numerous exhibitions and been awarded commissions globally. I currently live and work in Berlin and London with a small and dedicated studio team.

In 2013 I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Edinburgh University in recognition of my ‘major contribution in fostering collaboration between the arts and sciences’, of which I am very proud. My artworks are represented in collections including the Guggenheim, New York and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, and in 2014 I won the Visual Arts category of the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.

'Hollow' Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moye 2016
Photo copyright Max McClure
'Hollow' - Katie Paterson and Zeller & Moyem 2016
'Future Library' - Katie Paterson, 2014-2114
Photo copyright Bjørvika Utvikling by Vibeke Hermanrud
'Future Library' - Katie Paterson, 2014-2114

Two art projects that I am particularly proud of creating are Future Library, a 100-year artwork for Oslo, and Hollow, a sculpture in Bristol that brings together over 10,000 unique tree species.

I collaborate with scientists and researchers across the world, and create conceptual projects that consider our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. My inspiration comes from a wide number of places, particularly the sciences and literature.

Alumni wisdom

Following the path of being an artist is an unstable one, but can be truly fruitful. In my experience, it needs a great deal of willpower, dedication, and hard work. Looking back, I could never in a million years have imagined the opportunities that have opened up for me. I would advise to follow what you believe in and don’t give up at the various hurdles that present themselves.


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