BY MILLY ZIETHEN
Mother, artist and environmental activist, Katie Goodwin hones a wide range of interests that are reflected in both her art and lifestyle. While the London-based artist focuses on the moving image and visual effects in film, completing an an MA in Fine Art, specialising in Photography, in 2011, she has recently returned to the more traditional joys of printing and drawing alongside exploring our relationship with the environment, technology, and the little joys in life.
Goodwin illustrates the importance of our relationship with our environment, and the risks we run of increasingly engaging with technology and distancing ourselves from nature.
Having displayed a keen interest in art from a young age, the artist confesses she treated painting as a form of escapism, hiding herself in her bedroom during school to avoid reality – and a painful school life – by painting for hours on end.
While Goodwin may have spent hours hauled up in her studio, the artist emphasises inspiration doesn’t come from sitting around and waiting for an idea to sneak into your head – it comes when you least expect it, often sparked by a conversation or article, or finding an extraordinary in an ordinary object – ‘which is normally junk!’, she adds. All stoked stoked by an artist’s need to keep exploring and making.
After a lengthy and underwhelming stint in the film industry, Goodwin decided to take a different direction in her life and art. Retreating to Sydney, with its beaches littered with plastic and pollutants, Goodwin sought to take advantage of the area’s notorious pollution. Collecting discarded objects to present them as art, she began photographing eclectic curations of waste, weaving an environmentalist thread into her work. She tries to alert her viewers to our trash production and what we do to our planet. The artist herself has always made a point of recycling, trying to live as sustainably as possible and limiting unnecessary consumption. Just like Ellen Ripley in Alien – a surprising (but totally badass) inspiration – Goodwin wants to help save the world.
In producing her work But Does It Spark Joy Mama? Goodwin also discovered a kind of therapy, admitting collecting the waste objects to photograph satisfies a hoarder streak. But while the artist likes to get her hands on recalcitrant objects to photograph, she makes a concerted effort to declutter her home. On a mission to declutter her flat, she took a photo of every piece she threw away, artfully documenting her Konmari journey – and demonstrating multitasking at its finest! Goodwin describes how this decluttering began as an inconsequential daily ritual, but this soon changed when she was asked to sell one of her pieces on television, where the snaps of her discarded items are interspersed with text reactions of viewers.
While Goodwin takes care to declutter her life of waste and unnecessary materialism, she also wants to revive lost moments in nature. The artist pays homage to extinct species in her work, aware that pollution poses a dire environmental threat for many animals, like the Passenger Pigeon, Goodwin laments, which was extinct as early as 1914. In memory of the foremost ubiquitous animal in the world, the artist animated a single bird flying in slow motion continuously looping across the screen with an occasional feather falling.
Through her work Goodwin illustrates the importance of our relationship with our environment, and the risks we run of increasingly engaging with technology and distancing ourselves from nature, while revealing the exquisite in the overlooked or invisible. Approaching these with quirky semi-autobiographical anecdotes and ensuring to include objects that make her laugh, Goodwin appreciates the little joys that make her eager to get up every morning. A work-life balance of which I’m sure we are all a little envious – and an outlook we could probably all do with adopting!
Katie Goodwin’s work has been exhibited at London’s V&A, in Finland at Akki Galleria, Jyväskylä and Alchemy Film Festival, as well as Paris, Montreal, and Sydney. If you’d like to discover more about the artist and her work (but don’t fancy a trip to Finland!) explore her website here.