NPA Lab | 2020

Katie Pratt


Katie Pratt is a London-based contemporary artist and abstract painter; her abstract oil paintings progress from a chaotic beginning towards meticulous, systemic order.  In 2019, Pratt won the Thermae Bath Spa Commission and she will exhibit in the 2021 John Moores Painting Prize.

Ema Pina


Ema Pina is a London-based painter who interweaves longings with representations of artefacts, nature and the body. She was shortlisted for the Clyde & Co Art Award in 2015 – 2016.

Ema Pina

‘Fishing Flamingos’ (2020)

Coloured Pencils on Paper

“I had the privilege and pleasure of discussing my work with abstract painter Katie Pratt. We met via FaceTime, on September 30, streaming from our respective studios in South London. During the exchange, I talked openly about my painting process and the ideas driving current works in progress, as well as previous work, examples of which Katie had seen online in preparation for our meeting.

A key taking from this exchange is strengthened confidence in articulating the formal in relation to the more conceptual aspects of my painting practice. Since completing a Fine Art degree about six years ago, I’ve had few opportunities to discuss my work in a focused and somewhat formal setting. Katie’s poignant insights made me realise how much my interest in hollow artefacts and surfaces is in tune with painting’s two-dimensionality, which exposes a surface masquerading as form. This realisation has helped me articulate broader concerns in my practice and identify new lines of enquiry.

We touched on my readings on the intersection of politics and aesthetics. Katie also recommended artists I should lookup; an exciting discovery has been the paintings of Sally Kindberg.

Addressing more practical aspects, we discussed how I could photograph my work professionally, yet on a budget, by reaching out to creatives at my studio’s site while putting forward my skills. Katie’s belief in the strength of artist communities and the profound ways artists can impact each others’ practices is inspiring.

Our talk also contributed to quiet some of the anxieties I have in regards to sustaining my art practice financially. For example, I feel that by working outside the arts sector, I miss out on conversations, skills, networks and insider knowledge. I feel reassured that, for now, by escaping the often uncertain positions the sector traditionally holds for early-career artists, I gain a sense of stability and urgency.

The conversation flowed into a discussion of the pros and cons of selling works online. Initiatives such as the Artists Support Pledge are a great way to support artists through these challenging times and to question power relations in the arts. Still, the question of their adequacy as a strategy for the long run arises, especially if we acknowledge their success depends, to a degree, on the commercial skills of the artist.

We also discussed how to further develop my practice by organising meetings with peers or entering postgraduate studies. Here, Katie’s balanced exposition of the differences between several art programmes in London was useful.

Our talk ended with a delightful coincidence: Katie knocks on the door of her colleague, who she’s just learned is my former St Martins tutor, the painter Dan Hays — welcoming if surprised, he answers the door!

This exchange confirms to me the power of the conversations we engage in with our peers; it’s extraordinary how much a short talk can instigate thought and rekindle motivation. I hope that by sharing my experience here, others can take something away too. From this talk transpires that the task of sustaining an art practice is multifaceted, probing the financial, as well as the intellectual and practical ways of nurturing, making, sharing and challenging our work.

I’m very grateful to Katie Pratt for being so generous with her time and wisdom, and of course, to NPA for enabling this experience.”

Ema Pina

‘At The Beach’ (2020)

Oil on MDF

Ema Pina is a London-based painter. She interweaves longings with representations of artefacts, nature and the body, in works that reconcile analytical observation of surfaces with interiority. Born in Portugal, she graduated in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2014. Recent shows include ‘The Future is Female’ at La Porte Peinte in France, and her curatorial projects ‘Here then, was I / Here now, am I’ and ‘Void Feelers’ at Thames-Side Gallery. Her work was awarded the Kate Barton Award in 2014, the Brian Botting Prize and the Clyde & Co Art Award in 2015, and the Eaton Fund in 2019.

Katie Pratt

‘Darnington’ (2019)

Oil and mixed media on canvas (50 x 40cm)

Katie Pratt studied Painting at Winchester School of Art (1992) and the Royal College of Art (1998). She won the 2001 Jerwood Painting Prize. In 2019 she won the Thermae Bath Spa Commission. She will exhibit in the 2021 John Moores Painting Prize.

In 2018 she was Artist in Residence at City & Guilds of London Art School. Her interview with Suzan Frecon was the main feature in Turps Magazine #19. She co-curated The Order of Things with Andrew Bick & Jonathan Parsons at the Wilson Gallery, Cheltenham in 2017. Other group exhibitions include ‘Location /Dislocation…’ at the Mark Rothko Center, Daugavpils and Dubulti Art Station, Riga, 2020; ’Patrick Heron, Jonathan Lasker, Katie Pratt’ at John Hansard Gallery Southampton, 2006; Landscape Confection, curated by Helen Molesworth at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus Ohio touring to Contemporary Arts Museum; Houston Texas and Orange County Museum of Art, California 2006. Solo Exhibitions include: Galerie Peter Zimmermann, 2012 & 2016; Fine Art Society, London, 2012; Kontainer Gallery Los Angeles, 2003, 2005 & 2008; Forum d’Art Contemporain, Sièrre, 2003 and Houldsworth Fine Art London, 2001 & 2003.

Katie Pratt

‘Licht’nSteen’ (2018)

Oil on canvas (190 x 170cm)

“Working with Ema was an absolute delight.  Her commitment to her painting practice and her high level of intelligent artistic enquiry were an inspiration. I very much look forward to seeing her artwork in future.”