Katie was born in Windsor and studied BA Fine Art at Central St Martins. In 2014 she moved from London to the Isle of Skye where she now has a studio and gallery.
Katie is well known for her ocean-inspired 'Blue Planets' paintings although she began her artistic career as a portrait painter. After moving to Skye she became enthralled by the colours and moods of the Hebridean Seas and her artwork followed suit. Katie has exhibited in England, Scotland and internationally.
'Blue Planets' Paintings
The 'Blue Planets' paintings are inspired by the patterns and colours of the water around Skye. They are mixed media paintings on canvas or board using inks, acrylics, enamels and foils which are then varnished with a clear resin coating to add depth and give the effect of being underwater. The colours of the Hebridean seas, the shapes of Highland geology and coastlines, together with the depth of the clear night skies, are reflected in the jewel-like circular pieces.
They are based on moments of connection with the landscape... Looking down from a bow into dark-blue depths, glancing up at a starry sky with a hint of the Northern Lights or gazing across stormy waters from a clifftop...
Those who know the islands might recognise the turquoise colour as that from the beaches of Harris or waterfalls of the Fairy Pools. The combination of inks, paints, and enamels means that each painting is unique. They are covered with an organically poured clear resin to give an antique glass-like finish.
In 2019 Katie took part in the charity art event, The Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail, to help raise money for the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. 'Oor Wullie' is a much-loved Scottish comic book character and a variety of artists from around the country were selected to paint an Oor Wullie statue in their own design. Katie's sculpture was titled 'Island Wullie' and it featured her signature ocean-blue base overlaid with gold outlines of each Scottish island.
'Island Wullie' was installed outside the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow in 2019 and it became a popular attraction for visitors and tourists. Later in 2019 the sculpture was auctioned at an event held at the Kelvingrove and the art trail raised £1.3 million for children's hospital charities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Katie has created a variety of conceptual installations, sculptures and paintings for exhibitions and shows across the UK. Some of her most notable pieces are listed below.
'Fin' (The future of sharks), 2014, acrylic paint on circular canvas.
'Swans: The Battle of Britain', 2016, paper, fishing wire, fish hooks.
'Vessels', 2018, clay and Sommemud.
'Revalued gems', 2019, reclaimed fishing rope and resin.
'Fin' is a series of large, circular paintings featuring images of sharks.
The title plays on the French word, 'Fin', meaning 'to end' and the work is inspired by the decline of global shark populations due to the shark finning industry. Since the 1970s most shark populations have plummeted by over 97%. Many species, such as the porbeagle, smooth hammerhead and dusky shark have decreased in numbers by over 99%.
The main piece features concentric rings and follows the journey from whole animal, to finned shark, to the dried fin product itself and finally, in the centre, a bowl of shark fin soup. The outer ring shows the creatures as we recognise them from nature documentaries, smooth and graceful. The next ring of finned sharks is jarring in contrast and anyone who isn't familiar with shark finning will find these truncated shapes strange and unrecognisable. Finally the rings centre on the bowl of soup, something so small and insignificant in comparison to the animals featured in the outer ring.
This main painting is accompanied by two other paintings also featuring swimming sharks, one of which also includes damaged fishing net, a nod to the overfishing that may ultimately cause the extinction of these much misunderstood animals.
Over this time, the earth of the battlefield itself became synonymous with loss of life. Soldiers trudging through sticky clay, soil soaked red, treacherous Passchendaele mud. It was a treacherous enemy and place of rest. The poppy that sprang from that churned earth is now our primary symbol of remembrance.
To create 'Vessels' I combined clay with soil gathered from Normandy fields. Like human beings each vase is different; imperfect.
The accidental cracks, imperfections and broken edges are echoes of experience and reminders of their fragility. Their original form is fleeting and their lifespan is limited. Like us, the vase's existence is transitory.
If the vases are not acquired after exhibition I intend to travel with them back to Normandy where I will crumble them back into the fields.
Like human life, they will have a fleeting existence before returning to the earth.
Edward Shanks' poem, 'The Few', inspired the title itself. The purity of the white paper echoes this namesake but these birds do not fly in a flock; the ball formation is intended to feel chaotic, with different angles and directions marking different points in time for each machine.
Aircraft from both sides are included without differentiation; British, German, Polish, Jamaican, and so on. There is a song by Tom Waits called 'The Day After Tomorrow' about a young soldier at war. It includes the lyrics, 'You can't deny, the other side don't want to die any more
Than we do... don't they pray to the same God that we do? And how does God choose, whose prayers does he refuse?'
It was important to me to recognise that human element by ignoring nationality; both sides suffered losses of both aircraft and lives.
1,963 aircraft in total. 1, 547 destroyed. 416 remaining
Germany & Italy
2,550 aircraft in total. 1,887 destroyed. 663 remaining
4,513 pieces. 1,079 paper planes and 3,434 paper balls
*Actual aircraft numbers differ between sources. The numbers used here are those cited in James Smith's 'Western Front: The Second World War' and are the most commonly occurring figures in other books and websites referring to the event.
These tiny sculptures are inspired by how we value (or don't value) our marine debris and the legacy we are leaving.
I want to explore our notions of what objects we feel are worth displaying and why. Whether it's because something has intrinsic, historic/sentimental or aesthetic value or for other reasons.
I run beach cleans as a Surfers Against Sewage regional rep and it's fascinating to see volunteers pick along the shoreline, sometimes pocketing little items that were rubbish to whomever threw them away but worth keeping to this other person... things like little toy soldiers or shards of china. No one ever snaffles away the long tangles of rope and so I wanted to try and give that value too.
Despite their unsightliness when on the shore, the colours of lost or discarded rope can be vibrant and beautiful. I wanted to take those colours and make them into something of worth.
In just using hand tools it takes a lot of time and effort to create these 'stones' and that amount of work itself imparts a value into them. The removal from their original context and into frames does too.
Even the idea of a polished 'stone' evokes a preciousness (if they're not 'semi-precious' could they be 'new-precious' or 'revalued-previous'?)
When seeing this rubbish on the beach we feel a sense of sadness and shame but by using it as a resource can we start to look at marine debris in a different way?
Figurative and Portrait Painting
Katie built her artistic career on portrait painting. Her subjects have included notable celebrities, conservation leaders, MPs and members of the military.
Her portraits hang in various private collections in the UK and internationally.
Drawing and Equestrian Commissions
One of Katie's specialities is commissioned drawings and she is well-known for her equestrian-themed pencil work. Her artwork is recognised by the polo community and one of her drawings has been awarded each year at the annual international Polo Awards as a prize for Best Playing Pony. Her artworks are owned by the top-rated polo players in the world, including #1-rated players Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres.
I have a couple of Katie's Blue Planets paintings now. We bought our first one to remind us of our family trips to the West Coast. The colours are beautiful and everyone who visits us comments on how lovely they are, our photos don't do them justice! We're looking forward to buying our third piece when we're next in Skye!
Annabel Johannes, art buyer
The AFAS 84th & Final Show, 2018, The Menier Gallery, London
Oor Wullie – Island Wullie, The Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
Blue Planets solo show, 2018, Skyeworks Gallery, Isle of Skye
Katie Tunn - Blue Planets Exhibition, 2018, The Laundry Gallery, Aviemore
The Scottish Show, 2017, The Lighthouse Gallery, Glasgow
AFAS Annual Exhibition, 2014-2017, The Mall
Out Of Line, 2016, The Mall Galleries, London
Bite Back Charity Event for Shark Conservation, 2015, London Aquarium
KATIE'S WORK CAN CURRENTLY BE FOUND DISPLAYED AT
The Katie Tunn Open Studio, North Skye
Deli Gasta, Broadford, Isle of Skye
OR Shop, Portree, Isle of Skye
Edinbane Lodge, Isle of Skye
The Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
isle20.com - The Online Shop For Artists and Makers during the 2020 COVID pandemic
The Laundry Gallery, Aviemore
Skyeworks Gallery, Portree, Ise of Skye
ART PRESS click to view article
The Blue Planet Studio
In early 2020 Katie began renovating an old cow barn that is now her new workspace. The artist's studio comprises of two rooms, one of which works as a showroom where visitors are welcome to visit to view available artworks. Depending on the situation, Katie may also be able to show you her working processes and talk you through what life is like for an artist living on Skye.
The cow barn, or byre, itself is a historic building that once housed both humans and livestock under one roof (a style of house known as a 'but n' ben'). It would have been finished with a thatched roof which was traditionally weighted down with large stones to stop it from being blown away by winter storms. Although the inside has been sealed to stop wildlife from getting in, you can still see one of the original stone walls on the East-side of the gallery.
Please note that, as an open studio, there are no set opening hours; the studio will be open upon Katie's availability. Visitors are also welcome by appointment so if you're planning a visit please get in touch ahead of time to ensure that the studio is not closed!
CONTACT KATIE TO DISCUSS A COMMISSION
She will get back to you as soon as possible.