Art at the Park – Meet the artists: Kate Boxer

6 minutes

‘A lot of my work is about how people inhabit your mind and so I enjoy making pictures of them because they've either recently, or for a long time, been with me through my life’

As children living on a farm my brother Sam and I loved to play as cowboys. I would race about on my pony Cherry Pie but when my older siblings joined in they were always native Americans and I would be the one tied to a tree!

We would watch westerns on TV on Saturday afternoons and play out the action, imagining riding the landscape and deep escarpments while firing our guns and shouting ‘Bang, Bang’.

Mum and dad didn't mind what we did, so long as we weren't quarrelling.

It was an amazing form of escape. Riding my pony, I was one of those cowboys – Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart or Kirk Douglas. For a child it was a great adventure. I loved Yellow Sky starring Gregory Peck.

That's what films do, they get into our minds. Even though the idea of the cowboy changes as you grow up, and you see things differently, they're still a symbolic figure.

I still have very childish feelings about the whole thing. It's not that I don't still absolutely love cowboy films, but now, when I paint cowboys I see them as lonely and sometimes misguided men. They are heart-breaking figures, yet marvellous at the same time, riding across great landscapes with something terribly exciting going on and firing their guns. They are more part of the animal world, like the buffaloes roaming the plain, rather than tough macho men.

A lot of my work is about how people inhabit your mind. I really enjoy making pictures of them because they've either more recently or for a long time, been with you through your life as a source of huge interest, fascination and a resource. Billie Holiday singing, Cézanne’s painting or Dorothy Parker’s jokes are all examples.

I have included one my cowboy paintings in the Art at the Park exhibition, Cowboy and Horse, which shows the horse rearing up – just how I imagined myself and Cherry Pie. 

(Image: "Cowboy and Horse" by Kate Boxer)

I do love to paint people and animals. They can often come into my mind for a while and then return years later. Although Oscar Wilde, who I love has always been in my mind ever since I was read the Happy Prince. It did take me a long time to have the nerve to try to do a picture of him!  He was heroic, funny and tragic.

(Image: "Oscar Wilde" by Kate Boxer)

And, of course, I always paint dogs and birds! Who doesn't love them?

(Image left: "Oyster Catcher", image centre: "Ziggy the Daschund", image right: "Backy" all by Kate Boxer)

How it all started

When I was seven I asked my mother for some oil paints and I would paint on paper and glass in my bedroom – all sorts of squidgy, blotchy things, not having a clue how to use them, but loving the smell!

My whole bedroom got covered in paint. And I remember dad coming in and saying ‘Gosh, that's marvellous’. He was very encouraging, perhaps because my grandfather Francis Hyde Forshall was an artist. I always longed to do more art but always felt art belonged to another world – I just carried on drawing and painting for myself.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s, living in London with two young boys, that artist Jill Ingham came for supper and suggested I joined her Adult Education course in Hortensia Road, part of Kensington & Chelsea College.

I would cycle there across the park with the kids and I could put the boys in a crèche. Those were the days. The class was so accessible and so brilliantly taught; line drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, it was like a really amazing foundation course.

And there was a most incredible mixture of people; some who had just got out of prison, recovering alcoholics and drug users, resting actors, businessmen's wives, kids who hadn't got any any qualifications … it was such brilliant access to education.

As well as Jill Ingham, lots of people used to visit, or live, in our house and one day when I was painting in the back room a friend said he knew someone with an empty garage and suggested ‘why don’t you hang your pictures in there and invite people along’?

I just thought ‘No! no! no!’ but with some encouragement I made the invitations, with a little painting of a camel, and sent them out. People were so sweet, they came along and I sold lots of paintings. Although they didn't cost very much money it was immensely encouraging.

I did that again in someone else’s studio and then I was offered a show so that's how the ball got rolling. I said ‘yes’ to absolutely anyone who offered me to do anything because I was so delighted.

Looking back it was a good thing because I had no assumptions about what I was doing. I didn't have a career plan, I didn't think it would go anywhere, I just loved doing it.

Even now, I'm so delighted if anyone likes or gets what I'm doing and that's all I aspire to in a way.
You can only hope that you get a bit better at it. What I love doing hasn't really changed and I keep to my themes. I am open to new things, it's just that the same things, in different forms, often crop up.

Back to the country

I never meant to leave London but I’m back in West Sussex because my aunt left me a tiny farm cottage.

There's no point in having a farm unless you've got animals (they have always been a massive part of my life), so I now have two dogs Figgy, a Scottie-poodle cross and Peggy, her daughter, whose father was a border terrier; two donkeys, Jeremy and Joni, named after a book I loved as a child and singer Joni Mitchell, plus three Kuni Kuni pigs Bob, Barbara and Belinda who were given to me by my sister Issy.

The cottage is just over the hill from where I used live and where I rode across the common that surrounds the farm.

I have also bought a pony, Pip, so everything’s gone full circle. I'm back being a cowboy again.

The cottage is just over the hill from where I used live and where I rode across the common that surrounds the farm.

I have also bought a pony, Pip, so everything’s gone full circle. I'm back being a cowboy again.

Art at the Park

Kate will be exhibiting six etchings at Art at the Park, all signed and editioned:

The Cowboy and the Horse

Drypoint and carborundum, 63.5 x 61 cm

Oscar Wilde
Drypoint, gouache and carborundum, 79.5 x 63.5 cm

Napoleon in the snow
Drypoint and hand painted, 68.5 x71 cm

Drypoint and hand painted, 77.5x 86.5 cm

Drypoint print, 24.8 x 57.8 cm

Drypoint and gouache, 53.5 x 48.5 cm

(Image: Kate Boxer will be exhibiting at Art and the Park.)


See the exhibition

Art at the Park in aid of Home-Start Essex at Braxted Park, Witham, runs from February 1-4, 2024, supported by Howden. Kate’s work will be on display in the Georgian house alongside more than 50 other artists and sculptors.

Tickets from

Art at the Park in aid of Home-Start at Braxted Park, Witham, runs from February 1-4, 2024, supported by Howden. Work will be on display in the grounds and Georgian house with prices expected to range from around £15 to £50,000.
Tickets from

About Home-Start Essex

Home-Start Essex is a family support charity, which helps to give children the best start in life by helping to support parents and caregivers to feel less isolated, to build their confidence and find ways to manage the challenges they face. Home-Start Essex builds trusting, helpful relationships with families and delivers a range of support to meet their individual needs, including volunteer-led home visiting, family groups, wellbeing services, school-readiness and behaviour support programmes.

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