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10 Questions with Katja Abbott Article Image

10 Questions with Katja Abbott

Posted on 26 March 2021

Katja Abbott creates dream-like creatures that inhabit dark and fascinating worlds. Using sculpture, painting and installation, she explores how the eradication of nature through environmental degradation impacts us.

She worked for many years in the publishing industry as a book designer, illustrator, editor and project manager and in 2015, she embarked on a Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts through UNISA.

Katja Abbott, Firedog II, 2019
Firedog II, 2019, Monotype print with chine colle, 56 x 40 cm

If not art, what would you do?

I would plant forests. Trees are the answer!

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes mostly from the dream world of the unconscious. I can't really say how I access dream imagery except that when I start to work, images arrive... from somewhere. It's a state of non-intellectual allowing.

What's your secret obsession?

I have an obsession with boxes - anything old - wooden, lacquer or even retro vanity cases. These I find at charity shops. Perhaps it is the element of mystery about what a box might contain, or what it once might have contained, that I find appealing. I justify acquiring boxes by telling myself I can store art materials or inspirational oddities inside them, which I do.

Katja Abbott, Jukwa (wolf), 2017
Jukwa (wolf), 2017, Ceramic and fabric 46 - 63 cm high

Do you have a creative muse?

I do, his name is The Magnificent Pooh Bah. An imaginary flamboyant trickster character, who nevertheless feels very real to me and orders me about a lot.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven't yet?

I am beginning to explore the possibilities of fabric as a sculptural medium, which excites me greatly. Why this is I am not yet sure. I am allowing my attraction to pursuing this more transient material remain in the non-rational realm for the time being.

Favorite time of the day?

Early, early morning just as the dawn bird chorus starts and the world feels new and hopeful.

Katja Abbott, Bubble-oh IX, 2017
Bubble-oh IX, 2017, Bubble wrap, clingwrap, plastic, 150cm

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can't live without in your studio?

If it can be called a tool, it would be that fact that I am a sensitive, introverted person who operates on the periphery, which has honed my ability to watch, listen and see.

Favourite or most inspirational place in South Africa?

Any wild place in nature, preferably with a mountain pool nearby, where I am able to feel more expanded and connected to the universal rather than the personal.

What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating an artwork?

Putting it out into the world, the act of revealing or making external something that feels very internal.

What's the best creative advice you've ever received?

Just start working, and see what happens. Which ties in with this quote by Andy Warhol: "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

View Katja Abbott's work and follow her on Instagram.

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