Meeting painter Katty McMurray - one of the artists behind Two Kats and a Cow

Katty McMurray

Katty McMurray - Credit: Archant

Two Kats and a Cow is an art gallery in Brighton’s Arches – if you don’t know the area that means that it provides beachside inspiration beyond compare, for you step straight out of the gallery and on to the shingle.

Brighton bathers

Brighton bathers - Credit: Archant

Two Kats and a Cow is a collaborative venture dreamt up one night in a pub in nearby Seven Dials by artists Katty McMurray, Kathryn Matthews and John Marshall, who specialises in paintings of cows. “The three of us had all studied together and were batting ideas backwards and forwards across the table about what we could do next,” says Katty. “The name cropped up in jest, but actually as soon as it did we all knew that it was quite brilliant, and the rest really evolved from there.”

John has since move to Lewes, but his paintings continue to hang in the charming archway that makes up Two Kats and a Cow, and Kathryn and Katty are still very much present to meet with visitors, fellow artists and potential commissions.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been kept very busy with commissions over the last couple of years,” says Katty, “and I definitely do still take them, but I have to confess that it was definitely a relief to be able to work on my own collection this past year too.”

The collection that Katty’s talking about is her first based on Brighton. Her past works have included scenes from around the world, as well as many still lifes from places she’s visited, as well as her own home. “Having children allowed me to sit still a bit more, and to appreciate the things that I could paint that were all around me in my own home – I think that the Brighton collection was an extension of that.”

Katty has always loved Brighton, and has now lived in the city for 14 years – “but even before then I always knew that it was the place for me. It was always, ‘shall I go to London to study or shall I go to Brighton?’ and then it was ‘shall I go to live in Italy or shall I go and live in Brighton?’ Somehow, somewhere else always won the day, but when I returned from Italy I knew exactly where I wanted to be, and I can honestly say that I have never looked back. I often think now that perhaps I was meant to travel and see all the places that I did before coming to Brighton, as it was always supposed to be where I would end up.”

“What I love so much about it,” she continues, “is the way it is always changing. When we first got here you’d never see any families or children down here, and now it’s so family-friendly, with so much to see and do.”

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Katty’s paintings all start as line drawings. “I reel off reams of them in a very short space of time, and then I go home and select the ones that I want to turn into paintings.”

The line drawings themselves are also great – very architectural in style, and very iconic because of the familiar Brighton sights and scenes that they portray. I ask if they sell well elsewhere, or whether it’s mainly us Sussex folk that adore them. “To be honest no-one else has ever had a look in – they all get snapped up long before I get the chance to take them to London or anywhere else.”

Katty also produces a range of silk screen prints using the local Bishop’s Printers. “It’s definitely a more expensive way to do it, but I would far rather support a local business than a national one, besides which I try to do everything to the very highest quality that I can, and I do think that they’re the best.” This summer marks a new chapter in the life of Two Kats and a Cow, as they have recently extended their opening times to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays throughout the year. They will also be hosting a range of events that they hope will include supper clubs and wine tastings, all within the gallery space. Katty or Kathryn will be at the gallery every Monday from 10am to 2.30pm if you would like to discuss commissions or chat about any of the work on show.

167 Kings Road Arches, Brighton Beach BN1 1NB; 01273 776746;***


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