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Kanchan - Kate Padget-Koh

INDIA

I was so fortunate to visit India for the CNY Holiday.  A potentially very un-Chinese CNY, but stunning and inspiring in its own way.

 We opted to visit Mumbai, which I had not visited for 10 years.  We stayed at SOHO HOUSE, Juhu Beach.  A beautiful property in Juhu, the centre of Bollywood, which is somewhat like staying in Malibu.  The property is literally on the Beach, and every morning we took runs on this gorgeous stretch of coastline.  

Mumbai has performed an extensive beach clean-up in recent years.  Started in 2015 by city lawyer Afroz Shah at Versova Beach and supported by volunteers, Shah was awarded “Champion of the Earth” by the UN.  To see these pristine beaches is so moving and brings home how we can make an impact wherever we live.

India played a big part in my career.  In the early 2000s, I had a fantastic Design Consulting opportunity with Raymondof India.  Where I worked on Parx and later all of their Brands.  It was such a rich and extraordinary experience.  I made friends for life.  Especially Prakash Yadav, whom I met on this trip.  What a blessing to connect with my wonderful friend and colleague.  

India feels like home for me, I find it so releasing, inspiring and beautiful.  It brings together spirituality, culture, beauty and complexity.  I am always so inspired and filled with new ideas from any India trip.  The local Designers and Retailers are incredible in their commitment to beauty and bringing amazing products to the world.

Mumbai is developing every day.  The country is vibrantly moving toward the future, so full of life and joy.

xoxo
Kate Padget Koh 

NATURE

For me, nature is creation in the world.  It takes the natural flow of life, the beauty of life, a home for beautiful creatures.  The extraordinary wealth and variety of flora, fauna and weather systems.  Nature is proof that the Universe is ever abundant. There is no doubt in nature.

Nature is a huge part of my life.  It is my “life source”.  I grew up in the Countryside, in a rural village and only lived in a City first the first time when I was 25 years old.  Since then, I have lived in big and very busy cities, always finding nature wherever I am. The absence of green has a big impact on my quality of life.

My work always includes nature.  There are animals, flowers, leaves, fish and sometimes and huge tracts of vegetation. I am enchanted by species of all these creatures, having a slightly obsessive knowledge of national species of birds (Hong Kong – the red-whiskered Bul Bul).  Nature is life expressed in all its natural glory, there is no apology, no limitation.

I always find my answers in Nature.  No matter what I draw, paint or create; there is always something natural which grows in it. The epitome of a ‘Nature’ in my work is my beloved piece : “San Francesco”.  In the painting, Saint Francis is surrounded by all elements of nature : the sky, the forest, the ocean.  His Cassock is covered with lovely creatures and fauna.  He was short-listed for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Now as we face the challenges of the impact of Climate Change, our beautiful natural world is at threat.  We constantly see the plastic oceans, the starving orangutans and polar bears, yellow skies thick with pollution.   What can each of us do to make the change? 

My commitment for life on this planet is the abundance of beauty and love for all living creatures.

Goddess Paintings

My work is usually featuring Goddesses and Saints.  It is verging on an obsession, which I thought everyone had.  During a recent cultured conversation with some very amazing women, I realized they did not in their lives on a daily basis. Which in turn had me ponder why Goddesses, Power Princesses, Madonnas and Saints play such a large part in my creative consciousness.

I am not from a Religious Family at all, my mother had a statue of Joan of Arc, which I was rather taken with after hearing her bold story.  When I was 8 I met a girl on a beach in Wales called Athena. I was mesmerised by this exotic name. her Father was a Professor of Greek Mythology.  I had always been amazed that St Francis actually could have the job of taking care of all the nature, animals and the environment.  Again, I was mesmerised by this role in life.

Through my ongoing curiosity, I found many other Goddesses and Saints.  Including, my namesake – Saint Katherine (of the wheel). After many trips to Italy in galleries and churches, as well as my education in Renaissance Art, my knowledge for these glorious beings grew.  Travels in Asia, has added entire new worlds of Hindu, Burmese, Balinese, Chinese Icons.

So what is the quality and expression which attracts me so much.  The power of being oneself, present to the extraordinary power, beauty and ability to impact!  All fearless in their endeavours and commitments.    

WHAT IS BEAUTY?

Beauty is a very important and yet challenging subject.  It is something I am drawn to, evoking memories and creating futures.  I am on a constant search for the decorative images and sheer magic of visuals which make the experience of everyday beauty.  From the moment I open my eyes, I am constantly sorting beauty from ugly throughout my life.  The light through the windows, as it dances across the floor.  

What is the mesmerizing nature of this single word and what does it summon up for us?  

The definition of beauty : “a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”. 

It uses the example of “I was struck by her beauty”.  

The reference of beauty is so strongly associated with women.  We are constantly in the conversation of beauty as it relates to us and those around us, primarily also women.  How many of us have this as something we are winning or losing.  How many of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others regardless of how realistic the comparisons are.  Is beauty a trap?  It does seem to be when looking at the latest flawless outfit of Amal Clooney or how chic Meghan Markle is dressed on vogue.com.  How can we ever complete.  We go to the gym, we work on our appearance, we constantly look how we look. 

Then there is Instagram, another place for comparison.  How many of us obsessively scroll and feel inferior as we look at the immaculate feeds of others.  We jump on online shopping sites to make our image more relevant, current or competitive.

We diet, exercise, detox, juice.  We then start to age.  The future as a woman is a reducing window of beauty opportunity.  

Really constraining.

Let’s reverse the conversation.  What would life be like if beauty equated to freedom and belonging.  How would it be if our journey and window of beauty grew with the years.  I can hear you all ask – How?  Let’s do it.

Start by identifying our own definition of beauty. Let’s face it, we are currently engaged in a conversation belonging to others, not our own.  We have been pushed images which challenge our belief of our own beauty for ourselves and others. 

Let’s remove all of these and stand in seeing beauty as something we do not know.

Create and elevate the conversation around BEAUTY as a creation.

Let’s create it as a game and have fun! 

A few fun steps to take and have fun with:

  1.  Look at yourself now.  Look in a mirror, get present to who you are.  Keep looking.  Keep looking. See what comes up for you.  It may be tears, it may be laughter.  Keep looking.  You will see yourself in your true beauty.
  2. Everyday look for the beauty in the moments.  Capture them in some way.  Photograph, sketch, collect.  Gather your evidence of a beautiful world. 
  3. What is the conversation for beauty you would like your daughter or future generations to have?

How can we elevate the conversation of Beauty.

ART AND HEALING

We have long heard about the benefits of Art Therapy and the ability to get beyond the ‘ill’ situation to alleviate pain or attachment to this.  The power of the creative process cannot be under-estimated as a means to heal and separate the individual from their condition.  All types of illnesses or afflictions have found very positive results through Art Therapy: Long-term pain, cancer, trauma, eating disorders, PTSD as a few.

For my own journey to healing, I can certainly identify with the benefits of Art and the creative process.   My Mother used Art to draw the healing of an inner-ear tumour, which miraculously disappeared.  This miraculous feat seemed quite unrealistic during the days she was doing the work.  

In my own work, I have people and situations, subjects which ‘emerge’.  The paintings can be pre-planned, but rarely (if ever) do they come as I expected.  Many have ultimately been a journey to healing, through their creation. I have 2 Iconic pieces : “MaDelia” and “Saint Teresa”, which are dedicated to my Mother and my Mother-in-law following their deaths.  Having them in my life gives the presence of love and reassurance that love does last forever, while life does not.  Creating these pieces had me consider and create who they were for me and what would play the honour of being a part of this painting, to immortalize them.  

An amazing journey to healing was Saint Joseph, which I wanted to create but kept being stalled.  My beloved dog, Hero died from Lung Cancer.  We were all heartbroken from his loss.  I quickly produced this piece, where Saint Joseph shelters the dogs and family members we have lost.  Shortly after this completion, my Father-in-law passed away suddenly.  I had painted him passing over to protect all our love ones. It may sound morbid, but the love and vibrancy of this piece is an honour to my family and pets.

However you deal with the stresses and challenges of everyday life, Art and creativity is certainly a joyful escape.  Taking the attachment away from our stress and challenges through colour and creativity is great addition to quality of life, not to mention you may find a wonderful hidden talent.

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With Love x

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