Kay Davis is a 24 year old artist from South East London. Kay's distinctive and colourful style caught our attention, so we caught up with her to learn more about who she is as an artist.
CM: What constitutes your work?
Kay Davis: My work varies from Paintings, Textiles Design and Accessories. Although I enjoy different practices my ideas usually stem from the same place of interest that being childhood, nostalgia and my culture being a women of Jamaican descent.
CM: When and how did you pick up painting?
KD: I started painting during my GCSE's. I use to jack the paints from the art department at my school during half term when no one was around. My school was opposite my house, so if I woke up in the morning with the desire to paint or even make something I would run across the road and gather all the equipment I needed. I found doing art based subjects at school and college therapeutic. It was something that I genuinely enjoyed and didn't have to think to hard about. My progress as an artist now is something that has happened organically. I've stuck at my interest until I eventually developed a skill.
CM: What motivated you to become an artist?
KD: One of the biggest influences on my decision to pursue art specifically was that it's the one thing I feel I have that's personal. Being an artist allows me to be myself with out having to apologize for it. It puts me in a mental space where I feel negative opinions do not matter. I create for myself and the most beautiful about it is that on my journey I’ve been able to inspire others and evoke feeling that come from a genuine place. I often get approached by mothers telling me my work inspires them and there daughters and that the most amazing thing in the world to me. I enjoy that feeling and it keeps me going.
CM: What do your paintings and art represent or stand for?
KD: My art stands for being genuine and living with purpose. When you see my art you see a piece of me. Visually it represents black culture and female energy but yet has a child like feel to it. I enjoy creating dream like paintings that look as if they belong in children's books. I like to create art that is friendly, vibrant and warm with the ability to evoke. Many of my characters are created from imagination but all somehow come across as self-portraits.
CM: Are you at uni? What do you study? Do you like it?
KD: I'm a graduate now and I'm seriously missing that student loan! I studied at Central Saint Martins where I did both my Foundation Diploma in Fine Art and went on to do a BA in Textiles Design. It definitely had to be one of the biggest learning curves so far. I loved it, hated it and loved that I hated it.
CM: You also design textiles and accessories tell me a bit more about that?
KD: Similar to Fine Art, I also studied Textiles as GCSE and grew with it. Because of my ability to paint and understand colour I've been able to merge the two, resulting to stuff like fabric art, which I'm working on now. I have the ability to knit portraits by hand or even embroider them.
Textiles are way more technical but I love that I'm able to have fun with it. I'm now trained to use industrial equipment. For example my neckpieces that I make are all knitted with embroidery thread, which would seem impossible to knit by hand. It's done by machinery that is manually functioned but takes a lot of training and patience.
A bunch of photo’s I collected of my female African and Caribbean friends during their childhood influences my accessories. It's mainly photos from the 80's and 90's so if you can imagine all those hairstyles, hair clips, bobbles and colourful outfits being the source of inspiration!
CM: I like that all your work/pictures/outfits are so bright and colourful. how do colours represent your personality?
KD: Colour is something that I can't help but be attracted to, I find it aesthetically pleasing. Even on a bad day you'll find me walking down the road in a hot pink coat. I feel most comfortable when surrounded by colour. Although I enjoy colour, I think sometimes it can be misleading. I often get really shy but my outfits usually state something different. Don't get me wrong, I can be very immature, bubbly and optimistic but I’m human just like everyone else and have my down days too. In fact most of my paintings are created when I’m in a very dark place.
CM: When and how did you meet Ron English? What was it like?
KD: OMG!!! This happened about 3-4 weeks ago. I had to control myself and act calm but deep down inside I was screaming. I was scrolling through Instagram one morning and saw him put up a post about being at Box Park in Shoreditch for a Q&A. I got there a little early and was standing outside the station when he starting walking towards me. I choked and then told him I was a big fan of his work. It was so awkward because I don't think he understands how much of an icon he is. He seemed a bit nervous himself. It was that moment I realised I had to fix up and act normal otherwise I'd scare him off. We started talking and then he brought me into the pop up gallery to show me some prints. All I could say was "oh, that's nice" repeatedly. I felt like a knob. I was also surprised at how humble he is.
CM: Who inspires you the most?
KD: Children are so great! They are as honest as a person can get and they're usually right. If you’re ever feeling down and in need of advice ask a 7 year old for their opinion. I love how kids experience life. Everything seems more vibrant, bigger and adventurous as a kid.
CM: Random question...Whats on your current playlist?
KD: I'm a bit bipolar when it comes to music. I can go from listening to Sade, So Solid Crew and Sa-Ra all with in 5minutes. I usually find myself lurking through soundcloud and vibing to whatever sounds good. I enjoy listening to 1-O.A.K, Eric Lau, Flying Lotus, Elhae, Shakka, Etta Bond, J Davey, WarPaint, the list is endless. I'm also a big fan of 90's and early 2000 Hip Hop and R&B. Music videos directed by Hype Williams is the ultimate gas for me, especially when it's the perfect combo of creatives working together. I'm talking old Neptunes and Timbaland beats with people like Mary J Blidge, Missy Elliot or Busta Rhymes on the vocals.
CM: Top 3 artists right now/OF all time?
KD: Right now some of my favourite painters are Ron English, Tokio Ayama and Kehinde Wiley. There's also a woman from Sydney called Katie Dutch who does the most amazing collages. Of all time, It's hard to say but in terms of being iconic and 100% real I'll state the obvious and say Frida Kahlo, Basquiat and Keith Haring. I also hope to be just as cool as Yayoi Kusama one day. I know that's not 3... I'm sorry. LOL
CM: What does the future hold for you? Any goals to accomplish?
KD: My ultimate goal is just to be happy and financially comfortable. It would be great to have the financial freedom to bring my ideas to life on a bigger and better scale. At the moment I’ve been approached by a couple brands for collaborations so I’m just waiting on confirmation. I've also been working on some fabric art and can't wait to introduce it to everyone.
Words by Barb (@flygirlbarb)