Inside the Studio of Artist Louise Kaye
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Inside the Studio of Artist Louise Kaye

Take a peek into Louise Kaye's workshop and uncover her artistic inspiration

Step inside artist Louise Kaye’s studio. Yoga, informality and a love-hate relationship inform her works, finds Caiti Grove

An Interview With Artist Louise Kaye

Louise Kaye in her Hampstead studio beside a colourful painting on an easel

Louise Kaye stands in her Hampstead studio, a former shop on the corner of a redbrick terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. She mulls over the ‘mindset’ of both the artist and the yogi enthusiast. ‘Yoga emphasises an inward focus – but also a connection to the physical body through the asana practice [the poses] and the pranayama, the breathing. I feel this dynamic connection between the outside world and inner world in my artwork,’ she explains.

Louise has taught yoga for 30 years. Only recently did she return to art, a passion she was discouraged to study in favour of Spanish (she also speaks Portuguese and French). In her twenties, she made knitted clothes that she sold on a stall in Covent Garden. ‘It was doing well, but I want to do something freer,’ says Louise, who then enrolled at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She feels they taught very little technical skill – in her mind, an advantage. ‘I don’t know how to do anything properly – I can try everything. I’ve never formally learnt how to use oil paint, clay or glazes so I just do whatever I want.’

A table of paint pots and brushes stands in front of a stack of huge canvases leant against the wall. Louise pulls one out, a six-foot long garden scene. ‘The tree is a huge cypress in Portugal: lovely stripey rats live in the branches. They scurry out to look for seeds in this quite barren garden.’ The flowers depict the messy, uneven beauty of nature. It shows, says Louise, the ‘overwhelmed, joyful experience of becoming lost in that space. But the tree – central and powerful, takes you somewhere else.’ 

In the window, colourful clay forms almost dance out of their cabinets. Some are designed to hold candles, others are sculptures: jagged pink shapes attached to sky blue. They all vibrate with colour, and were sold recently at Dover Street Market, a pop of colour in an otherwise minimalist shop. ‘This one is The Disappearing Night Moth. It expresses the obliteration of biodiversity. This one’s entitled We’re Fucked,’ says Louise, gesturing at another huge, multi-coloured creation.

The tension in Louise’s creative process is intense. ‘There is a constant dialogue, a love-hate relationship with my work. Sometimes I don’t want to even look at it and I feel annoyed and so angry, then think, “Why did I wipe that out?” Then I can change, and I’m quite interested in what I’ve made.’ This ambivalent attitude to her own creations fuels progress towards the end result: work she finds satisfies her entire aesthetic; art she feels happy to present to the world. Sometimes, frustrated with a work’s progress, she even puts it away entirely out of sight for a few years, then gets it out for a refreshed appraisal. On the wall hangs a piece conceived in 2017 – it continues to frustrate her sense of completeness. ‘I don’t like the way the green and yellow are contrasting in the background,’ she explains.

As we look around at her multi-coloured oeuvre, she sums up her attitude, ‘The power of a hyacinth bulb as it grows is incredible to me: that power is what I try to capture through colour.’

Louise’s works are on sale at Alex Eagle Studio, 6-10 Lexington Street, London W1. louisekaye.com