Kate Gradwell

My love of this land is what inspired me to pick up a paint brush and will continually inspire me for as long as I can make art.

"As a migrant from the UK to Australia, I feel an incredible sense of gratitude to live here in Sydney. Over the last 20 years I have come to adore the Australian bush and feel a very strong connection to the land I inhabit and the nature that surrounds me."




My love of this land is what inspired me to pick up a paint brush and will continually inspire me for as long as I can make art.

As a young child I was always interested in the natural world. My first aspiration was to become a naturalist, along the lines of one of my early heros, Gerald Durrell. I always had a leaning to the sciences, but a strong appreciation of, if a perceived lack of ability in, art. I went on to study Natural Sciences at university, achieving my undergraduate degree from Cambridge, and a PhD in Chemistry from Oxford University in 1997. I then worked for 15 years in strategy and change management, at McKinsey & Co and CSIRO. After a lifelong interest in art, I started painting full-time seven years ago. 

Rather than pursuing a formal art school education, I sought out inspiring and talented artists to learn from. My art practice focuses mainly on landscape and portraiture using a range of methods and media.

In portraiture, I particularly focus on interesting and inspiring subjects, such as the commission to paint Sydney University’s first female head of Chemistry, Associate Professor Ruth Gall.  In 2016 I was selected for the Portia Geach Memorial Award for Portraiture with a portrait of Professor Attila Brungs, FTSE, Vice Chancellor of UTS, and in 2019 I was selected as a finalist in the Archibald prize with my portrait of Professor Michael McDaniel. This portrait is now on loan to University Technology Sydney. 

I have undertaken many commissions, have had artworks hung in group exhibitions and art prizes and support charitable and community organisations. In 2020 I held my first solo exhibition 'A Brief Moment in Time' hosted by Brenda Colahan Fine Art in Putney, Sydney. My work is held in private collections in Australia, North America, Europe and China.

I am currently represented by Brenda Colahan Fine Art in Putney and also sell directly and through www.Bluethumb.com.au

We chat with Artist, Kate Gradwell

Why do you love representing the Australian bush and landscape through art?

I grew up in the UK and moved to Australia in 1999. From a young age I have always been a creative person, but I didn’t really take up art until 10 years ago. Moving from the green, orderly and pretty landscape of England to the wild, tawny landscape of Australia, with its clear sparkling light and beautiful gum trees jolted my artistic senses. It is what inspired me to pick up a paintbrush. The more time I spend in the bush, the more connected to it I feel. The Australian bush still constantly inspires me; as I evolve my practice I look for ways to push my work towards better expressing my connection with the land. Most importantly I wish my work to convey the sense of joy that I feel when I’m surrounded by nature

What is the ‘bush’ to you?

I live in Sydney, but have chosen a particularly beautiful bush-filled place to call home. I think Bush is anywhere you feel surrounded by nature – there are beautiful pockets of bushland all over Sydney and I feel particularly lucky to have so much of it literally on my doorstep. I can step across the road into Garigal National park and be surrounded by Angophora, hear the call of lyrebirds and catch a glimpse of one of the local swamp wallabies or sea eagles. A short drive takes me to Ku Rin Gai national park, or Manly Dam Reserve – so much lovely bush to choose from

How does the bush make you feel?

I’m not a religious person, but I feel almost a spiritual connection with nature and especially here in Australia. The bush brings me peace and grounds me. It is even better to escape Sydney and go to remote areas where the bush extends much further than the eye can see or an English person’s brain comprehend. When I’m really immersed I feel a sense of awe.

What is your favourite place in the bush?

It’s hard to pick a favourite place, but my family has a holiday house down at Lake Conjola and I have been going there for more than 20 years - the time spent there is particularly special. I am an avid kayaker and my favourite thing to do is explore the bays and headlands of Lake Conjola and collect inspiration, ideas and photos of the foreshore around the lake with its beautiful rocks and trees reflected I the waters.

Bush Exchange | Introducing Australian Artist Kate Gradwell


2021 Bluethumb Art Prize finalist

2021 Solo Exhibition ''Close To Home'' Brenda Colahan Fine Art

2020 Solo Exhibition ''A Brief Moment in Time'' Brenda Colahan Fine Art

2020 Bluethumb Art Prize finalist

2020 Moonee Valley Art Prize finalist

2019 Archibald Prize finalist

2019 North Beaches Art Prize finalist

2019 Northbridge Art Prize finalist and winner of Excellence in Acrylics

2017 Northern Beaches Art Prize finalist

2016 Portia Geach Memorial Portrait Award finalist

2016 Warringah Art Prize finalist

2016 Hunters Hill Art Exhibition finalist

2016 Kirribilli Art Prize finalist