OMAN Magazine ​meets Kate Toledo; a British subject, born in Tanzania and brought up in Africa and New Zealand. She spent 20 years in Brazil, before settling in the Middle East in 2006. Now based between Dubai and Lisbon, a combination of still life and traditional intricate embroidery are the main sources of inspiration for Toledo’s paintings, along with a tropical palette bought from Brazil. Kate paints in large-scale, combining strong colour and bold subjects with an architectural eye for composition, making her practice both deeply artistic and design-driven.

Although she designs from Dubai, the beautiful end result is produced in Europe.


Q: What does 2016 have in store?

New scarves and paintings! I am working towards my 4th solo exhibition scheduled for the later part of 2016 in Dubai, I’m about halfway through! There will be a scarf collection to accompany the new paintings which are inspired by Portugal, my second home. Alongside the main collection, we’re working on a series of smaller capsule collections which have more fun, relaxed themes like food and jewels!

Q: What brought you to Dubai?

My husband, who is a surgeon, was invited to join a clinic here after working for several years all over the Middle East. It was, at the time, quite a physical contrast coming from the lush tropics to the desert but, being nomadic at heart, it continues to be a fantastic journey.

Q: When did your fascination with silks begin?

As a girl my mother taught me to sew and I took great pride and joy in making my own clothes. I remember vividly the amazingly patterned and coloured materials the african women would wear where I grew up in Dar es Salaam, and later on my travels I would often pick up materials from whatever region I was in. Silk is naturally one of the truly noble fabrics and a great favourite.

Q: Tell us about the Middle East collection…

This is our first collection, the images derived from my exhibition “Reflections on Islamic Splendour” . The inspiration for the scarves was threefold, 1) a Grayson Perry scarf designed for his exhibition at the British Museum 2) wanting to somehow extend the life of my paintings and 3) creating a story driven accessory to brighten up our lives.

What inspires you to create a silk scarf theme, for example, the dove? The dove, along with the lynx are both metal incense burners from the Islamic world of the 12 century, museum pieces I would love to own but never can. Painting the objects somehow brings them closer to me, it’s one form of possession. Traditional needlework and the stories they tell of past lives is another fascination and I have encorporated Middle Eastern embroidery into the designs alongside these stationary objects, one element being dynamic and the other stationary.

Q: Where can our readers purchase your pieces?

The scarves are available on line www.katetoledo.com