"Katie carries on the illustrious tradition with a modern twist. Her paintings are wonderful quality, her technique exciting and her love of the subject matter shines through"
A great treat in August was to be invited to Katie O'Sullivan's birthday party. This was held in her lovely house in Lambourn which she shares with her husband, racehorse trainer Jamie Osborne, who is also one of the funniest men in the world. As a huge fan of Katie's paintings and aware she had a big exhibition looming in November, I was thrilled to be spirited away from the uproarious jollity of the party to catch a glimpse of work in progress. Pausing on the way to admire Jamie's racehorses and pat some very friendly Irish Water Spaniels,
I was flabbergasted on reaching Katie's studio, to be greeted by gloriously haphazard portraits or mere pencil sketches of an owl's Wing or a mule’s ears littered the room.
On closer inspection, gasp followed gasp of wonder as I located a mass rally of different coloured birds and the huge eye, dilated nostril and flowing silver mane of a breathtakingly beautiful Arab Stallion. Elsewhere, in very rough draft, were an adorable whippet, a startled hare poised for fight, and weary donkeys one longed to turn out into a lush green field. These creatures were so real, one could ruffle their coats - but how would Katie tie up so many loose ends before the exhibition? 'The answer is hard work. "Inspiration" as Tchaikovsky so wisely said, "seldom visits the lazy." Although I don't aspire to a millionth of Katie's genius, I was fascinated that I tend to put together my own books in the same chaotic way. Having mapped out the first chapter of my current novel on football scribbled the odd middle chapter and scattered my office and bedroom with ideas for sex scenes and epic victories, I already have an inkling how the book might end But if my heroine dumps the arrogant handsome star striker for the sweet left back with a Jack Russell tattooed on his knee, I'll have to re-jig the whole thing. But somehow Katie and I realise our deadlines: capturing a pheasant's plumage one day, a midfielder's thigh the next. Finally, as Ruskin pointed out: "Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart go together."
Thus Katie's exquisite drawing, painting and endless experiments with different textures are enhanced by her understanding of and huge love for her subjects, as she tells each blue tit, mule or shaggy lion: "I will both cherish and immortalise you.
Husband Jamie Osborne's most famous horse was a bay colt, who won huge races, called Toast of New York. Katie O'Sullivan will show in this marvellous exhibition, she is the toast of all creatures great and small.