Today I have the absolute pleasure of bringing you an interview with the inspirational artist Kat Shaw, whose impactful work adorns many halls in Glastonbury, which was where I personally first encountered her, and was absolutely blown away... much of her artwork connected me to the energy of Glastonbury as well as the Divine Feminine (and within.) I found Kat on Instagram following this, and cried along with her impactful body positive work, and the stories of women to be found alongside them.
I was thrilled when Kat agreed to chat with me, and I present that interview for you all Starlets...
1. Your beautiful art is inspirational and portrays a range of different female body shapes and sizes. Could you, in your own words, tell us why this is so important?
I pride myself on breaking through the stereotypical views of beauty that have been cast upon us as women by the media. The views that only filtered bodies are worthy of being deemed as beautiful. We live in a world where airbrushing is considered normal in order to achieve attractiveness, yet every body should be worshipped, regardless of shape and size, so I decided to start painting the glorious reality that is a woman’s body because I was sick and tired of not seeing reality in art.
About 2 years ago I began my personal journey to self love, because I was hiding away, covering up and dimming my shine to try and fit into the preconceived ideas of what a woman’s body should look like. I had totally forgotten how to love myself, lacked self-belief and confidence and looked in the mirror with hatred at the way my body stared back at me. I was not honouring my radiance at all, so I started painting myself in all of my naked glory – dimples, rolls, sag, lumps, bumps and curves. And then I added glitter. And I started to fall in love with myself again very, very slowly. I wasn’t able to look in the mirror and love my body, but I was able to look at the paintings and think they were pretty lovely to look at.
But, little did I realise that I wasn’t the only woman who felt like this. Fast forward 2 years and I have painted nearly 300 women!!!! I had opened a space for women to be worshipped and honoured exactly as they were, and to be able to love themselves. Women were crying out to be seen and for themselves to be portrayed in art, rather than the airbrushed images of the perfection of the female form that are so rife in today’s culture.
My mission is to empower as many women as possible to reach their fullest potential by embracing their bodies and loving themselves wholeheartedly.
All of my artwork is a journey for me. It’s a way to battle my demons and take me on a journey towards happiness and contentment, stripping back years and even lifetimes of restrictions, negative thought patterns and other people’s beliefs. It just so happens that I have thousands of other women on this same journey with me surviving life and striving for self-acceptance and self-love.
I create my artwork every day to feel compassion and gratitude for my outstanding body and fiercely battle for other women to see and feel the same. Here is an excerpt from my first exhibition “I am She”
The time has come for you to break free.
Love your body - have gratitude for your abundant flesh. Kiss your voluptuous rolls and sprinkle adoration onto your wonderous breasts. Rejoice as your thighs dance to the story of your life. Reconnect with abundant self-love.
The time is now.
Women –Stand together. Honour each other – we are not alone. We are one.
One divine feminine. One Goddess. I, we, She.
No filters, no shame - Just perfection, liberation, beauty and freedom.
Stand in the glory and wonder of the reality you see – all Goddesses.
Know there is no difference, no separation.
See yourself reflected back in the mirror of the blank faces of the Goddess - We are all one. We are all Goddesses!
We are She. I am She.”
2. The stories you tell that accompany the art are from a range of women sharing their vulnerable and raw, talking about loss and trauma. Can you tell us about the decision & process of deciding to highlight these stories through art?
So, after the success of my empowering affirmation cards, and Goddess paintings, I wanted to reach out and empower more women. I began thinking about “perfection” and that our bodies are so precious to us as they carry us throughout our lives with unconditional love, yet we often only show them contempt – especially if they change in appearance. Instead of rejoicing them for their strength in survival, we condemn them as useless and not good enough anymore. So, I started to look for women who had been through something. Some kind of trauma, no matter how large or small. I started looking for women with scars – visible and invisible, as we all carry them. And I started to paint these gorgeous Goddess women. These warriors. Survivors. Women were sending me their pictures and writing their stories down in order to release them and begin to move on with their lives. This was a hugely healing process for the women involved, as they really looked at themselves for the first time in the mirror. Studied their naked bodies and took photos. Then, they wrote their stories. Their past. Their traumas. Their secrets. The things that they had hidden deep inside. The words that had never been spoken. I had stories from rape to miscarriage. Incest to cancer. Drug addiction to suicide attempts. Childhood sexual abuse to postnatal depression. Bereavement of a child to PTSD. We were all carrying our past. But our strength as women made us rise to fight another day. We were warriors. Little did I expect the global success of this project though! I named the project “And still I rise” after the Maya Angelou poem, and started to share the paintings I had done. Within 24 hours, the supporting video I made had had over 6000 views and I received over 500 messages just in 1 day. Women were sharing their photos with the words AND STILL I RISE written on them, and writing the same words on their hands – all of which became part of the project! I was reaching women from all over the world who were feeling empathy for the women who had bravely shared their stories and saying that the same had happened to them and that through this project, they too were able to step into their power, share their story and begin to love themselves and move on as a warrior women. These were the words that went with the project:
We will not let the past define our lives.
We will show the world that surviving can be beautiful.
We are here, living, despite it all. We will always rise, and we will do so with strength and dignity.
We bow down to the universe who is proud of what we are.
We are the magical souls whose spirits cannot be broken and whose strength cannot be questioned.
We are the survivors.
A series of 85 paintings of glorious women who have survived, and used the broken pieces of their lives to build a bridge and walk with power.
This project was a real middle finger up to society that our bodies can still be beautiful no matter what.
Here is the link to the video for survivors:
And Here is the link to the fb gallery with all of the original 85 survivors and their stories (but the project has carried on and I now have about 130 survivors!):
Here are some of the comments from women who have taken part in the survivors project:
“Kat, I am completely overwhelmed and so incredibly grateful for you, and all of the other, beautiful, powerful Goddesses I am surrounded by. You’re all amazing, and I am honoured to be a part of this project. It has changed my life.”
“I feel so much honour being included here. I’m standing a bit straighter now and loving myself a bit more.”
“Words cannot even express all the emotions and feelings I’m experiencing having looked through every painting. It’s been an absolute honour to stand amongst all of you women. There are no words I can type that justify how proud I am of all of us. We are survivors, and as sure as the sun will rise, still we rise.”
“Moved to tears, stunningly healing.”
“All so unique, all so powerful, all so beautiful, all so inspiring. I feel very empowered.”
“Since you’ve started painting this project I have cried endlessly, but in a good way… it’s been cathartic and uplifting.”
“I cannot get enough of your work, it reminds me every day that I am better than OK. Appreciation in my heart seems such a small gesture in comparison.”
“Your paintings make me weep Kat, something so powerful about the acknowledgment that still we rise… every day…”
“I do not speak of my pain. Until this project that pain was too much to put into words. Kat Shaw's amazing artwork holds that pain and allows me to remove it from time to time. This painting, my blue self, honours all that has passed while allowing me to rise all at the same time.”
“The biggest part of this for me was the way you put my story on a clear sheet of film which could be peeled away. The awakening to the fact that even though I have suffered many traumas in my life they are not my end story. I’ve been knocked down hard, and still, I rise. Those words have allowed me to rethink how I view myself. I no longer have to carry around my traumas. I can peel them off and be my beautiful self. Thank you.”
“You have been absolutely amazing and everything you have done has been empowering. It's been so beautiful to see my body as colourful and bright as you have painted me.”
“The thought of being involved in this project was terrifying. After spending many years trying my best to avoid being vulnerable at all costs, putting my naked body out there for all to see was one of the scariest and most liberating things I’ve ever done. It’s helped me have a new appreciation for my body and what I have survived. feel more connected and more powerful as a result. This entire process has built my confidence and helped me fall back in love with my body.”
“When I saw Kat’s call for her survivor exhibit, I immediately volunteered. It was scary as hell yet I knew I wanted to tell my story, something that I carried with me for decades and put away because of the shame I felt. Being vulnerable in this way feels so liberating I am in awe of how beautiful our bodies are. We own our story to write new empowered chapters. Feeling liberated, fierce and in deep deep awe. With so so so much love - thank you! and still I rise.”
“I was once a life model, so you'd imagine that getting naked for this project wouldn't be hard and yet it took me to an edge I was unaware of in myself - consciously and mindfully, choosing to expose my survival, through and in, my naked body meant I had to touch my deepest vulnerability to find the true goddess within. Not she who is visible on the outside, but she who shines from within.....and I had to travel through the embarrassment of taking my clothes off for a trusted friend (who has seen me naked many times by the way) to take the initial photographs for Kat to work from, through the many tears I cried writing my backstory before sending both to someone I'd never met before, through the agony of waiting to see what I'd look like when she drew/painted me...it was a journey into trust, into letting go, into the deepest lagoon of my soul. Dipping my toe in and finding it warm and inviting, before slipping beneath the surface of transformation, being completely submerged and rising integrated and whole.”
“I too immediately wanted to be a part of this project. Before this project, I told myself that cancer robbed me as a person. It robbed my ability to trust in my own body (that was trying to kill me). It robbed my peace. It scarred me. It stole my internal organs. Each reoccurance was soul breaking. This project gave me, me back. It is bigger than "fuck cancer." As I see my glorious painting, I do not see anything but stunning colour and power over my story. I am so honoured to be among Goddesses! And, still I rise.”
Here are the links to the videos I made to honour these women. I also printed out every photo and it became part of my exhibition in Glastonbury at Goddess House on International Women’s Day.
And still I rise photos:
And still I rise on hands:
3. Some of the most incredible images you have painted include several different perspectives of Goddesses. Do you feel called by them to create these works & what does that process entail for you?
If only you knew what it was like to be inside my head!!!! I have a queue of Goddesses waiting to be painted – on a good day there’s about 20 in the queue, and on a busy day, there have been up to 70 Goddesses wanting to come through to me! Some jostle to be heard (KALI!!!!), some stand more quietly awaiting their turn (Mother Mary), but all want to be heard and seen and brought into consciousness so that their energies, gifts and healing potential can lift women and empower them to awaken their Divine Feminine within. When I am painting a particular Goddess, their energy is with me and in me and working through me and I can feel their essence. I feel totally blessed to be a vessel for Goddess consciousness and this is my way of being of service to Goddess, by bringing them physically into the world to heal, empower and inspire all. 4. What do you hope for when others are impacted by your work?
My hope is that women find love and peace in their life. My hope is that women find a sanctuary within their own bodies. My hope is that through Goddess love, women can find their inner Divine Feminine Goddess energy and live the life they were born to with passion. 5. Your art features energies of and is prominent in Glastonbury. What does this sacred place mean to you?
I am a Sister of Avalon and soon to be Priestess of the Goddess and Priestess of the Magdalene Rose as well as being a Priestess of Avalon in training. Avalon is the magical Isle of the Priestesses which resides within the physical town of Glastonbury – also known as the heart chakra of the world. I have a strong connection to the earth in Avalon and this is the place where my vision to be an artist began as well as my vision to paint women in their glorious reality. My work is sold at Glastonbury Goddess Temple gift shop in Glastonbury and my first ever exhibition was there. I love the place so so much and it is truly the home of my heart. I am blessed to have been gifted a caravan in Glastonbury (called Dolly who I painted pink!), so I am able to visit around every 4 weeks to soak up the energy and rebalance my spirit.
Some women want to get involved in my work through commissions, some women want to pose for my Goddess paintings, some women want to go through the healing process of being included in the survivor project, some want a positive affirmation painting, and some just want to chat!!!
All can email me on email@example.com
All of my art can be purchased through my etsy shop:
Plus I have a fb selling group:
But my main fb page generally gets updated every day with the latest projects I’m working on:
Plus Instagram obvs!