Catherine Chambers is a London based artist with strong ties to Ethiopia. Her work is inspired by the environment around her, interpreting the nature of our being, our connection with our ancestry and our attitudes to others familiar and unfamiliar.
She embraces subjects that are common to people the world over including self-awareness, identity, aspiration, family ties, social status, security and faith. Her artwork is built on close contact and sympathy with her subjects and also echoes her own experiences. Consequently, a painting set in Ethiopia is also a reflection on conditions she believes to be universal.
Catherine works in two distinct styles; figurative oil paintings, and her ongoing acrylic icon series.
The oil paintings are usually portraits of dear friends of the artist; people she admires and pays them respect in the time she gives to their portrait. The items Catherine includes in these portraits take on the traditional role of placing the subject in a time and place, however, due to their location, her paintings challenge people’s expectations of the place with an assumed picture they already have in their heads.
The icon series is complementary to the portraiture. The triptych format enables a story telling approach giving voice to anecdotes told by her sitters and developing her own experiences and observations. Catherine’s appreciation of the works of William Hogarth is reflected in this series. Just as Hogarth’s scenes initially appear remote being set in the past, Ethiopian images set in unfamiliar locations may appear substantially different from the viewers own experience. Catherine believes that what past and present, here and there, them and us, have in common is universal. The more one knows and understands the circumstances of others, apparent and superficial differences fade away.
Both ways of working have a playful nature, their details tease the audience with hints into the lives of the subjects and their connection to the artist. Often works involve the interaction of visiting Europeans with Ethiopian individuals and communities. The interpretation her audience puts on her work is important to Catherine. Responses to her work are diverse but never absent often expressing strong judgement of the supposed. content, and often search for a victim and/or hero.
Catherine is an avid observer who shares her work to stimulate discussion rather than to deliver conclusions. Her works are a record of her own development and understanding.
2012 2:1 (BA) Hons Drawing and Applied Arts, University of the West of England
2008 BTEC Diploma Art and Design, Amersham College
2019 I Appreciate You, The Embassy of Ethiopia, London
2016 A Brother’s Progress, Freespace Gallery, Kentish Town, London
2016 Red Lodge Chair, Red Lodge Museum, Park Row, Bristol
2016 Possession(s), The Tobacco Factory, Bristol
2014 Trove, The Edwardian Cloakrooms, Bristol
Selected Group Exhibitions
2018 CCTT, Whitefriars Gallery, Harrow, London
2018 Summer Show, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2015 2nd Annual, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
2014 Reflect, The Edwardian Cloakrooms, Bristol
2013 Bristol Arts Prize, Bristol Guildhall Arts Centre, Bristol
2013 Before I Die, National Museum, Cardiff
2013 Dead and Buried, Centrespace Gallery, Bristol
2016 3 month Artist Residency, Freespace Project. Kentish Town, London
2018 Curator for “Peace” exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2018 “Where I Am Now” - Anglo-Ethiopian News File – Issue: Summer 2018