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Artist Profile: Hannah Katarski

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hannah kap surf

I grew up on a vineyard in the Pemberton region of SW Western Australia. It was a great way to grow up, always walking through the bush, making cubbies, swimming and playing by the river.

Having hearing problems as a little tacker I had grommets and wasn't allowed to get water in my ears, so I learned to swim without putting my head underwater! As you can imagine, this didn't provide me with a lot of water confidence for things like surfing, where you would need to dive under waves and fall off your board. Having said this, my first waves were on the front of my dad's kneeboard, probably around the ripe old age of five or six. I remember learning to body surf on school holidays in Esperance.

I have painted and sewn ever since I could remember. Always making something. Bags. I seemed to have a thing for bags. As an adult that hasn't really changed.

In high school my focus became music and performing arts and I went on to study a Bachelor Arts (Drama Studies) and two certificates in Musical Theatre and Classical Music (Voice) from WAAPA. More as an afterthought I also completed a Graduate Diploma (Education). Before I knew it, I'd fallen into a teaching job while trying to direct and rehearse a co-op cabaret.

It was about this time that my interest in the visual arts was rekindled. I found a new outlet for my sewing skills in the form of textile art: free machine embroidery and hand felting. I've never had any formal training in visual arts but would spend hours as an independent learner, scouring libraries for books and taking workshops. I had my first solo exhibition in 2007.

It was that same year that I finally saw the light and understood that crazy obsession my dad had - surfing. I went on a weekend surf camp with a group of friends - not my idea - and was utterly hooked. It's been something of an addiction for me, that only other people who've caught the stoke can understand. Everyone else just thinks you're a bit weird when you start getting exciting about the weather - a seemingly inexhaustible topic!

From this point on, surfing has inspired my art and dictated my holiday destinations. I've started mixing textiles, painting, and most recently, printmaking to make surf inspired art. I try to capture the surfing lifestyle through my photography, documenting our girls' surfing safaris and the laid back WA beach lifestyle.

Now working in Community Development at a Local Government, I work as the Arts Officer, organising arts events, commissioning public artworks and community art projects. Ideally I'd like to balance this with working more on my own art to make it a more viable business.

It only took 25 years, but I'm so glad that I now share this passion with my dad. It takes years to learn but the journey is so much fun. We've been on family trips surfing in the desert up north and it's such a great bonding experience that I now get to share with my uncle and cousins.

Surfing has taken me on road trips up and down the coasts of east and western Australia. Not really one for just sightseeing, having some kind of experience at a place has made for much more meaningful travel for me. Surfing has taken me to Bali, Biarritz, up the coast of California, Hawaii and the Maldives.


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