Kate was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, during the Rhodesian Bush War also known as Second Chimurenga or Zimbabwe War of Liberation. Her world views and art are shaped by her childhood experiences of war, abuse and the aftermath of trauma.
In 1960 UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in his speech “Wind of Change” in the South African Parliament made the British position clear: she intended to grant independence to ALL her colonies in Africa under black majority rule. Kate’s Mother’s family could trace their lineage to the first settlers of the country who came with Cecil Rhodes, they were wealthy and had a standard of living that was the envy of most other African countries. Her father was Irish, from a wealthy influential Tipperary family, who had joined the British South African Police in his early 20’s whilst staying with his aunt in Johannesburg. Theirs was a violent, turbulent marriage; Kate was born in a nursing home in Umtali (now Mutare) and left there for three weeks whilst her parents argued, which is how she came to be named Kate (the nurses in the home named her and it stuck). There have been many rumours and stories told to her about who her real father is or was.
Kate’s first 15 years were masked by amnesia until she worked with an EMDR therapist and neurologist to finally force all the trauma her body remembered forward so that she could be free of the past. Unfortunately, nobody knew just how much trauma was stored in her body and hidden from her by a brain that had built walls to protect her. She survived a suicide attempt and has dedicated her life since that time to helping others deal with trauma, support those dealing with mental health issues, fight for those who serve and be there to intervene for those trying to survive suicide.
Much of Kate’s work to this point has been pro-bono for those who serve and need to find a way to put their story on a canvas so that they no longer have to carry it. Kate feels she has a gift to understand, to see the full scope of the story and create it in a way that frees, breathes hope and inspires. Her works can be seen in hospitals and mental health units in Canada, exhibitions like STIGMA that seek to explain various mental health issues: her specialty being PTSD. She has designed album covers and art for music, one of which is in London at the centre of the research into returning British soldiers’ who end up in the prison system (27%).
One of Kate’s major failings is a black and white view of the world: unsurprising given her natural tendency towards that but emphasized by an African childhood, war and surviving extreme abuse/trauma. As a child she took a decision to never allow herself to be swallowed by the pain or bitterness, to seek out a way to turn the evil she had witnessed and survived into something positive. Her love of Law and Order is come by honestly: she values these having witnessed a country ripped apart when the pillars of independent judiciary and unbiased media, equality and emancipation of man regardless of colour or ethnicity were torn down. She has long loved the ideal of America, studied the constitution and biographies of all her presidents despite holding a deep grudge against President Carter who put Robert Mugabe in power.
In 2009 she left her husband in Singapore where she had given birth to two beautiful girls, Sydney in 2005 and Gypsy in 2007. Gypsy was born severely pre-mature and Kate barely made it, having succumbed to the many immune and blood clotting issues her body suffers as a result of the physical and mental trauma she had survived. As soon as Gypsy was well enough to travel Kate headed for a new land, one where she was related to nobody and knew nobody: a Canadian dream where she believed the girls could make their own lives without having to live under the shadow of white supremacy, violence and abuse.
Kate met Brian McKenna in Aurora, Ontario in August 2016 and fell in love with him. Brian is a retired Warrant Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces having served four tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan. He has two sons, Liam and Owen. Their family love to camp in the bush, away from the world, wifi and cellular: hunt, fish and explore. Kate’s landscapes are inspired by their journeys off the beaten path. The couple write about issues facing people with mental health issues, especially those related to relationships. They work to support others and offer their own experiences, what helped and what didn’t in the hope that it gives others a hand up. They have a private group where people can come and share their issues in a private place that is focused on growth and support, you can find it on FaceBook Life After PTSD.
Kate was recently selected to be an avatar for a pilot project in Ontario. Her story was dowloaded and used to support those going through an addictions program, she is hopeful that this will be a success and others like it will be replicated across North America. One of the key issues in all Mental Health challenges is isolation. An interactive avatar is a neat way to defeat isolation.
Kate hopes to work more with those who wish to get into art, she hopes to set up programs for children and adults, veterans and first responders to use art and creation to explore their inner world, put names and creations to trauma thereby allowing it to drift away.