beetle on dramatic decorative background
The work of Catherine Mills is an exploration of the alien, the ‘other’. Having a ‘facial difference’ (known as a ‘hare-lip’), means she has been profoundly affected by and attracted to the beauty/grotesque dialogue in our culture. The insect series are a more neutral way to explore some of these ideas, and satisfy her subconscious need for symmetry, and order. Insects can initially be repulsive, and yet with closer observation, they possess an unexpected beauty; their colours, iridescence, morphologies are wonders of natural design.
The butterflies are a universal symbol of resurrection, and metamorphosis. The caterpillar becomes a winged miracle. Within these paintings lie the echoes of a childhood wish; that ugly ducklings could become swans.
The jewelry series is a variation of Catherine’s themes around beauty. She has also struggled with vision loss, and these works are as much optical explorations as depictions of beautiful things that we use to distract and adorn. Myopic and blurry in areas, clear and focused in others it’s the kaleidoscope viewed slightly askew.
Catherine’s technique evolves from a classical, indirect approach in oil; underpainting, layers of paint and final glazes to create detailed realistic portrayals of her subject. Her Butterflies are an evolution, in that the classical rendering is disrupted with layers of thick impasto paint, broken edges and disintegration of form.