Kathy Pickles was born and brought up in London. After a Foundation Course at Canterbury College of Art and a short time studying textile design at Winchester School of Art, she went to Sussex University where she gained a degree in the History of Art.
Kathy moved to Orkney in January 1981 and soon afterwards started to develop her interest in painting flowers. Over the next few years she exhibited her work at the Pier Art Centre’s Open Weeks and Christmas Shows and undertook a number of private commissions. In 1988 she had her first solo exhibition at the newly opened Ballroom Gallery (later known as the Orkney Gallery) and since then has had a number of successful shows in Orkney including a two-person show (with Dave Harris) at the Pier Arts Centre in 2001, entitled ‘Natural Studies’.
In 1991 Kathy was encouraged by a visitor to one of her shows to apply to exhibit her work at one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Shows in Westminster. She did so and was delighted to receive a Gold Medal. She exhibited a further four times – in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996 – receiving a Gold Medal on each occasion.
As a result of her RHS exhibits Kathy was invited to participate in a three-person show at the Kew Gardens Gallery, which took place in 1995-6.
In 1996 Kathy undertook the design of the 1997 Chelsea Flower Show Plate which celebrated the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip. Later that year she was invited by Orkney Islands Council to meet the Prince of Wales and show him her original painting while he was in Orkney viewing the work of a number of local artists and craftsmen.
Since 1994 Kathy has been designing floral mugs for Dunoon Ceramics and to date has produced over one hundred and fifty designs. She was very pleased, a few years years ago, to be able to design of set of three Scottish Wild Flower mugs which included some Orkney favourites such as Primula scotica, Northern Marsh Orchid, Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Oyster Plant (Mertensia maritima).
In February 2015 Kathy exhibited with the RHS for a sixth time and was awarded a Gold Medal for her watercolour paintings of Fritillaria and Helleborus. In February 2017 Kathy exhibited with the RHS for a seventh time and was awarded a Gold Medal for her watercolour paintings of Clematis. Some of these paintings can be seen on this website.
In 2018 Kathy had two of her paintings included in the Scottish contribution to the Botanical Art Worldwide exhibition – “Flora Scotia”, held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Examples of Kathy’s work have been acquired by The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew and Edinburgh, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh and the Shirley Sherwood Collection. In 2010 her study of Mertensia maritima was one of the paintings of endangered species included in the special 250th anniversary edition of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.
Most recently three of Kathy’s paintings have been included in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s publication “Scottish Plant Lore: an Illustrated Flora” (published October 2018, author Dr Greg Kenicer of RBGE).