In Conversation With… Catherine MacDiarmid

Published on 10th October 2022

Catherine MacDiarmid is a Kendal-based, award-winning, portrait artist who, for 27 years, has taught a variety of Creative Learning courses at Brewery Arts.

We caught up with Catherine to learn how Brewery Arts has helped to shape her as both an artist, and a teacher…

From using the venue as a social hub whilst growing up in Kendal, to building her professional reputation as an artist upon graduating from university 27 years ago, it is evident that Brewery Arts has always had a place in Catherine MacDiarmid’s heart.

“I was very lucky, Brewery Arts presented me with opportunities at just the right time in my life which allowed me to focus on bettering my career,” said Catherine.

“It started with volunteering in the gallery space, and from there, I was able to go and get my part-time teaching qualifications.”

Using her volunteering time at Brewery Arts to network and exhibit with other artists, Catherine gained the experience and skills required to make a full-time living out of her passion for art.

Catherine has gone on to win accolades such as the Pegasus Art Prize in Artist and Illustrators Artist of the Year 2017, the Alec Morrison Watercolour Award 2020, and second prize in the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 2016. She is also an elected member of the prestigious Lakes Artists Society, the Contemporary British Portrait Painters, and Green Door Artists in Kendal and South Lakes.

“Brewery Arts really helped me to establish myself as an artist, which is why I absolutely love to see the venue continuing to create these opportunities for young, up-and-coming artists,” said Catherine.

“It’s a creative hub which has always been a part of the community.”

Throughout her training, Catherine had always felt there was something within herself which pushed her to become the best she can be and now encourages her own students to be comfortable in challenging their abilities.

“I’ve developed a way of teaching that I was never necessarily taught myself. I’ve broken down teaching methods and instead, I use activities that will genuinely help someone to succeed in art,” explained Catherine.

Catherine describes her favourite part of teaching at Brewery Arts as being the supportive environment within each class and watching the friendships form between like-minded people, stating she has remained good friends with many of her students.

Some learners have gone on to study for foundation degrees, later becoming practising artists, whilst others have retired and continue to use art as a creative outlet in their spare time. Catherine sees each outcome as a success and believes being creative is the catalyst to growth and development.

“Whether people are coming to my class to improve their ability to draw, or would just like to meet people, they’re always surprised by what they can achieve,” said Catherine.

In the new season of Creative Learning at Brewery Arts, Catherine teaches and/or supervises the following courses:

See all Creative Learning courses here.

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