Katy Shepherd


Katy Shepherd artist

Katy Shepherd (b. 1961) is a multidisciplinary artist whose roots are firmly in painting and drawing; she completed an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 1991.  After leaving college she became interested in the potential of newly available digital software which led to her experimenting in moving image and in particular animation.  Fascinated by the possibilities of “breathing life” into a still image via digital manipulation she made her first animation in 1995.  By manipulating photographs of a chicken feather replica of the extinct dodo displayed at the Natural History Museum, she created a short animation made to resemble amateur film footage.  During this time her mother became terminally ill, and Katy turned her attention to photographs in the family album which had become increasingly potent and precious.  Employing the same process, she formed a series of short films (the “Home Movies”) infinitely looping animations designed for a project for the web - a sort of “digital heaven”. This early work became the basis for years of exploration around the broader themes of memory, and loss.  Over time her subject matter has developed to investigate personal inner landscape and her perception of a troubled, vulnerable world.

From 2010 Katy started calling upon her painting skills to execute hand drawn animations using old school/low tech methods.  She researched early cinema and found inspiration by looking at the techniques early animators and filmmakers employed to overcome the limitations of their equipment.  Her experiments in drawing also included automatic drawing techniques, sketching rapidly to access hidden inner thoughts and truths. Many of these drawings became the foundation for animations such as “Imaginary Daughter” and “Bedroom Scenes” where the sketches were incorporated to inspire complete sequences.

Most recently, Katy continues to create paintings alongside her filmmaking. There are cross fertilisations between the two disciplines with her drawings and paintings inspiring animations and vice versa.  Occasionally the two disciplines unexpectedly merge when paintings that were never intended to be part of a film are digitised, manipulated - animated.

When discussing the influence of her painting on her moving image work Katy says, “As a completely self-taught filmmaker my approach to animation is more akin to the less constricted practice of painting; I see no restraints re dimensions or time length, and instead of referencing a storyboard I just follow my instincts and see where the process takes me.”

After twenty-seven years of living and working in London Katy returned to Dorset in 2013.  She now lives in Swanage on the Jurassic coast where she has built herself a new painting and animation studio. Her films have been included in many renowned exhibitions in the uk and abroad.  Selected recent group exhibitions and screenings include: John Ruskin Prize, London (2024); Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, London (2023);  L’Alternativa Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona (2023); Encounters Film Festival, the Watershed, Bristol (2023);  Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize, London and tour (2023 & 2021); Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space London and tour (2012); Under the Radar Film Festival, Belvedere 21 Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna (2023); Video Art and Experimental Film Festival, Tribeca Film Centre, New York (2022); Buffalo International Film Festival, North Park Theatre, Buffalo, NY (2021); Wells Art Contemporary, Wells Cathedral (2019); Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick, Scotland (2019).  Selected Animated Photography Films, the Photographers Gallery, London (2014); Animated Drawings, screening, the Parasol Unit, London (2012); screening of Film at the Sainsbury Wing Theatre, National Gallery, London (2007); Collage, Bloomberg Gallery London (2004); A Century of British Artists’ Films, Tate Britain, London (2003).