Catalina was born the 6th of August 1958 in Bogota, Colombia. From an early age,
she was interested in both art and architecture, enrolling in 1977 to study
architecture at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota. She became interested in
addressing the housing problem stemming from the huge migration of people
from the countryside to the major cities. For her thesis, after consultation with
the people of one particular favela, she created a modular design that could be
implemented by the inhabitants themselves, and could grow incrementally;
avoiding the usual demolition and wastage when improving their homes. She also
gained experience working with RGM Architects to design housing. In the
summer of 1982 she received her architecture degree and travelled to the USA to
improve her English language, intending to continue her studies at the Royal
Danish Academy School of Architecture, where she had won a scholarship to
specialize in social housing. As so often in life, these carefully laid plans were not
to last; in the USA, she met Soeren, a PhD mathematician from Copenhagen.
Within three months they were married, and remained at the University of North
Carolina in the States for a further two years; Soeren completed his PhD and
Catalina enrolled in a Master’s in City and Regional Planning.
In the summer of 1985 they moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where from 1986
to 1987 Catalina undertook post-graduate studies in Urban Construction at the
Royal Danish Academy, School of Architecture. Building upon her earlier interest
in social housing, from 1987 to 1988 she worked as an architect at Jan Gudman
Hoyer Architects firm, participating in the design of a social housing project in
Ballerup, Denmark. In 1989 she completed her UNC dissertation in absentia,
graduating with an MRP.
In 1994, shortly after the birth of their first son Alexander, the family moved to
London, UK. Their second son Sebastian was born in 1996 and for a time
Catalina dedicated herself to their upbringing. Her creative nature was not so
easily stilled though, and as time passed, she felt a growing need to nurture it once
Feeling distanced from architecture, from 2005-8 Catalina attended drawing and
paintings classes at Putney School of Art and Design (PSAD). In 2006, after
winning a place in the V&A “Inspired by…” competition, she took the decision
to leave architecture behind, and instead to fully pursue a career in art. From
2008-10 Catalina completed a Diploma in Art and Design at PSAD, after which
she continued to take courses in oil painting and etching, as well as exploring new
territory in the form of monoprints, etchings, and colour experimentation. In
2012 she was the winner of the Etching prize at PSAD with ‘The Pianist’.
Her lifelong fascination for experimenting with colour and pigments led her in
2013 to participate in a course on the “Alchemy of Paint”: the transformation of
earth, rocks, roots and berries into pigments, run by David Cranswick, in
conjunction with The Princess School of Traditional Arts. The course turned out
to be a seminal moment in her artistic development, and cemented her desire to
dedicate herself to experimenting with colour and pigments to create her art. At
around this time, her etching entitled ‘Swimmer’ was accepted at the Royal
Academy Summer Exhibition.
Emboldened by her early successes, but wanting to fill the gaps in her formal
training and knowledge, she resolved to start anew, and was accepted to City and
Guilds Art School for a BA in Fine Art. Catalina flourished in the close-knit
artistic community of the school; in 2014 she won the Idun Ravndal Travel
Award, which awarded her funding to travel to Iceland and produce art about her
experiences there. The serene and ethereal landscapes she found there were to be
of great influence in her work, which still carries echoes of the country’s
indefinable ambience. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Clyde & Co Blank
Canvas Commission Prize, and graduated with first-class honours from City and
Guilds, whereupon she received awards for two of her Degree Show paintings
‘Duality’ and ‘Icelandic Evocation’, again from Clyde & Co. Since then she has
continued to build momentum, exhibiting in Dec 2016 at the Nine Elms Gallery
at ARC, Battersea, in her first solo show since graduation.