Aesthetica Art Prize Call for Entries: 27 Days to Go

In the Aesthetica Art Prize call for entries countdown, we highlight Katherine Anne Rose’s longlisted piece No.4 – a visual exploration of the more theoretical side of mathematics and geometry. No.4 is inspired by the patterns we see in our surroundings, from the molecular to the universal scale and uses cut and folded paper to create complex weaving and interlocking shapes. We speak to Rose to gain insight into her technique.

A: Your longlisted piece is informed by the everyday patterns that surround us. What inspired you to create this piece?
KAR: I had been experimenting with folding for a long time building up to making these larger scale wall pieces. I am particularly inspired by patterned tiling, and Islamic uses of geometric forms within their decorative culture. I am also struck by the finite possibilities of structure due to shape and number. This was from studying the arrangements of nanoparticles to patterns found on the surfaces of other planets, and recognising familiar forms at all different scales. I found that repetition reveals more complex forms. This was exciting for me to start exploring.

A: What attracted you to enter the 2016 Aesthetica Art Prize and do you feel that it has supported the development of your career?
KAR: I have always enjoyed reading Aesthetica and I felt I particularly enjoyed some of the shortlisted work from 2015. Being long listed for 2016 has been excellent exposure for my work and inclusion in the publication Future Now has been a boost for me and my confidence in my work. Its particularly rewarding to engage in conversation about my practice as a result of it being seen by a much wider audience, which I think can be difficult in today’s creative working world without crossing into the realms of advertising or marketing.

A: Your work is centred around processes of repetition and duplication. Could you talk about the development of each piece and the techniques used?
KAR: The way in which these are made is limited by the fragility of the paper used. I have tried many different pattern designs with varying degrees of success. I wanted this piece to hold itself up purely by the folds themselves, echoing ideas from Japanese paper folding that glue and tape are cheating. The repetitions include an internal structure in each layer of paper which ensures the piece holds itself up without the need of extra support. Repeating the patterns in grid form naturally reveals more shape and complexity as the piece is made, so this adds a real excitement to the making process as to what the end piece will look like. I’ve limited technique to only cutting and folding the paper. The way the final piece looks is largely determined by how the paper behaves.

A: Are there particular artists that you draw reference to in your practice?
KAR: I’ve been struck by the inimitable complexity of the work of Bridget Riley, and the way in which she studied Seurat’s paintings to really understand his processes as inspiration. Riley’s finished pieces can at a glance be thought of as simple, yet to truly grasp how they were made requires a much deeper understanding. I’m inspired by the paradox of making something which as a viewer one can feel like its form is something simple to look at but broken down, or working backwards through its process reveals its true complexity.

A: Due to the uniformed geometry of the piece, its focal point is shared across the canvas. How is this important in the way in which the piece is viewed?
KAR: I think that looking at a reproduction of the piece itself is particularly striking as the scale is not clear, and a two-dimensional print almost makes the image look like it could have been digitally made. I think this flattened focal point raises the question of its place in reality: is it computer generated? This reminds us of how much of what we see is ‘real’ or ‘made’ and how our brains reason between the two.

When you can move around the piece and experience its third dimension I think the experience becomes very different, yet with sharp enough shadows it can still echo the feel of a digital image. Paper has such beautiful qualities of uniform colour, perfectly straight edges folded and cut, the human element can be a little hard to spot. The subtleties lie in how hard I have cut each grid, or how accurately I have folded each angle. The scale of the piece is 120 cm square, and printing a picture at a fraction of the size magnifies its appearance of accuracy.

A: Paper folding is an age-old tradition. How have you adapted this technique for your own purposes, and in your opinion how does it connect with the discipline of painting and drawing?
KAR: Leading up to making this work, I have been experimenting with making geometric shapes and objects on a much smaller scale. Making structures, understanding the relationship between internal angles and external shape, and building shapes with modular origami has hugely built my understanding of the mathematics required for particular forms. I’ve tried to adopt some of the disciplines of Japanese paper folding as mentioned before. There are strict rules to adhere to; no cutting from the square shape, no glue or tape. I’ve adopted my own rules while retaining some respect for these ideas as paper is such a clean, smart and satisfying material to work with, I wanted its properties to be prominent in the finished piece.

I think this work’s connection with painting and drawing lies in the building up of form to describe something. Its shadows and playful connection with light and the phenomenon of looking at something and immediately feeling and understanding what you are looking at, despite perhaps its complexity being hidden as simplicity, all tie in with methods of drawing and painting. The experience of making is where learning takes place.

To see more of Katherine Anne Rose’s work, visit

Entries are open for the Aesthetica Art Prize until 31 August:

1. Katherine Anne Rose, No.4 (2015)