Grab a coffee and take a moment to get to know Cornish Artist, Katey Meeks, and the inspiration behind her large resin artworks a little better.
Can you tell us about your background and what were you doing before you became an artist?
I was born in Hertfordshire, my family relocated when I was about 5 years old, so I haven’t always lived in Cornwall. My dad was an estate agent, my parents were keen to escape the hustle and bustle – so they relocated to Cornwall and a quieter life in the countryside.
And I feel like I’ve grown up in the countryside and enjoyed all it has to offer. Art hasn’t always been my main source of income, but I’ve always had a creative flair.
My first business was running an equestrian centre, which I did happily for 13 years. But we all know what happened with Covid – the business literally fell on its head overnight.
I’m a creative person and have enjoyed art as a hobby, but my business has always been with horses and suddenly, through circumstances way beyond my control, I had to consider that my business was under threat. But art was something I could do, and I suppose it became a lockdown focus for me – I think I treated it as a new challenge to produce something that other people enjoyed enough to have in their homes or their businesses.
Did you reopen your equestrian business?
Yes, my equestrian business re-opened and for about six months I continued to create resin artwork as well. I worked on the two businesses as best I could – but in the end I found the passion I had always had for my equestrian work had changed significantly over the period of the lockdowns. And in the end, something had to go.
That sounds like a hard decision to make
It was a big shock to realise that something I had always held so dearly was no longer inspiring me. But everything had been so unpredictable, for what felt like a very long time, that to make a change also made perfect sense.
When you live in the countryside and work with animals you tend to be quite a naturally resilient person. And you have to work with what is around you. So when so much in my own world had already changed, I felt I had a choice to go with it and embrace more change. Or risk working against it and finding that more change was beyond my control.
So, you chose change?
Yes, absolutely. I chose to lead the change and take the opportunity to do something completely different and creative.
Resin artist – it sounds like a fantastic leap away from an equestrian business owner!
The change probably started before 2020, although it wasn’t until 2021 that I sold my first business that I felt the change. I had been experimenting with resin during lockdown one because it was something that always fascinated me. And I used the time of further lockdowns and restrictions to really dig into creating art and to explore techniques.
I began to understand the quirky, precise way that the material behaves more deeply. And I learned a lot about what works visually and how resin responds to the materials you introduce to it in the most stunning, surprising ways. And most importantly I learned what ‘works’ in terms of wall art and the impact that a large piece of resin art can have on a large interior space.
What had started as an artistic hobby soon became so much more when I began to share my work online. Within a short time I was commissioned to make a table top and as more commissions came in, I began to think of myself more as an artist rather than Katey Meeks, former equestrian business owner.
It’s been a fast rollercoaster, but I haven’t stopped and looked back yet!
What can you share about your life in Cornwall away from art?
Horses – naturally! I love being outdoors, riding and cycling as it is so completely grounding and calming. And I realise now that I find the same sense of peace through the process of creating my artworks.
Cornwall is the most stunning and inspirational place to work and live, and I feel very fortunate to have such abundant natural resources and inspiration on my doorstep and hidden gems like here.
Is resin art a mindful activity?
I think mindfulness would be pushing it, but you certainly have to concentrate and you can’t pause the process once you start it. So yes it does completely absorb you.
The process of creating resin layers really pushes the resin to its absolute limits – and I really enjoy experimenting and seeing just how far I can take it.
Like some animals, resin is unpredictable, it changes as you work with it but it’s in the last 10 minutes before it is completely set that you get the detail. But you don’t have much time – at this part of the process you only have a very short time to work.
Is this attention to detail what makes your designs so different?
I have worked a lot with resin in the final stages of setting and I have developed a unique way of creating shapes that mimic nature around me. My art is not just layers or useful products with decorative objects embedded – the ink and the colour are as much a part of the art as the resin itself.
I have challenged myself to bring the detail of nature into every piece I create and the poppies are a really good example of the stunning visual effects that I can achieve. They are really spectacular and if you know Polly Joke, the artwork instantly takes you there.
How long has it taken to perfect this skill of being so detailed with your finishing touches?
My work has always had an extra layer of care and attention, but the last 6 months I notice that the end result is closer to the picture I start with in my imagination. Each artwork I produce gets more detailed.
It sounds like your creativity is flourishing?
Being creative and spending time creating has become incredibly important to me. I am lucky that my creativity is probably flowing better since closing the equestrian business down and being able to focus all my energy on art.