Katie Paterson, born Glasgow, 1981, is regarded as one of the leading artists of her generation working at the nexus of art and science. Collaborating with leading scientists and researchers across the world, Paterson’s poetic and conceptual projects consider our place on Earth in the context of geological time and change. Her artworks make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to create elegant and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. Combining a Romantic sensibility with a research-based approach and coolly minimalist presentation, her work collapses the distance between the viewer and the most distant edges of time and the cosmos.
Describing Paterson’s work, Erica Burton , curator at Modern Art Oxford has said “Katie Paterson’s work engages with the landscape, as a physical entity and as an idea. Drawing on our experience of the natural world, she creates an expanded sense of reality beyond the purely visible”.
Paterson’s ongoing artwork Future Library (2014 -2114) will take a century to manifest; a forest in Norway is growing to make paper for an anthology of, as yet unprinted, texts. Meanwhile one writer every year will contribute a text to the Future Library, with the writings held in trust, unread and unpublished, until the year 2114. Writers to date include Margaret Atwood (2014), David Mitchell (2015), Sjón (2016), Elif Shafak (2017), and Han Kang (2018), Karl Ove Knausgaard (2019), and Ocean Vuong (2020).
A public artwork, Hollow, was unveiled for the Department of Life Sciences, University of Bristol, in May 2016. Totality (2016) - a commission with Arts Council Collection and Somerset House - is a mirror ball comprising over 10,000 images of solar eclipses, nearly every one that has been documented by humankind either by illustration or photography. For the summer of 2021 Paterson has been commissioned by IHME to make a new public artwork for the city of Helsinki. This olfactory artwork, To burn, Forest, Fire takes the form of incense replicating the scent of the first forest ever to grow on Earth, and the scent of the last forest of the age of climate crisis. These will be burned at various locations around Helsinki.
Recent major presentations include the solo exhibition A place that exists only in moonlight: Katie Paterson and JMW Turner at Turner Contemporary, Margate (2019) and the final instalment in the NOW series of exhibitions at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2020). Significant group presentations also include Månen (The Moon Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2018), Back to Earth, Serpentine Gallery, London (2020) and Under the Stars, Art Gallery of New South Wales (2020).
Paterson received the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Visual Art in 2014 and in 2015 she was shortlisted for the 46th PIAC (Prix International d’Art Contemporain / International Prize for Contemporary Art) for her artwork Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky. Paterson’s work is held in many public collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and Frac Franche-Comté, France and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK.