AT THE AGE of seven Kate Betty Smith wrote down that she wanted to be an artist and, despite opting for a different career path, 20 years later she has been invited to show her artistic talents at the biggest and most prestigious craft trade fair in the country.

But in a way it is no surprise that her flair for art has come to the fore as this type of creativity clearly runs in the family – her mum Lit Smith is a contemporary ceramicist and her younger brother Harvey works in special effects for film and TV.

Kate, who lives in Lulsley, near Knightwick, was encouraged to do art by her mum when she was little and studied art A level at King’s School in Worcester.

As a teenager she had also been a volunteer reader with young children at local primary schools and when the arts foundation course she took after school didn’t fulfil her expectations, she decided to opt for a teaching degree.

“I still wanted to end up doing something in the arts but I decided I wanted to get a teaching degree because I really enjoyed teaching too,” she said.

After gaining her degree she got a teaching job in Gloucestershire and became the art and design technology co-ordinator at the school.

But she couldn’t shake off that passion for art and decided to leave full-time teaching to focus on her creative side while working as a supply teacher.

Kate said her greatest inspiration has been her mum who went to study art and design in her 40s at the University of Worcester despite the onset of the neurological disease inherited ataxia.

Drawn to the Victorian illustrations in the books of Beatrix Potter and Alice in Wonderland while enjoying the natural beauty of the Worcestershire countryside, the vibrant young artist experimented with different styles.

She said she has always been fascinated by British folklore linked to wildlife and the countryside too.

She settled upon a dip pen ink and watercolour method using Chinese ink which does not dry as quickly as Indian ink. She then uses a brush with water to produce a wash effect.

She had visited China with her family when she was a teenager and fell in love with Chinese brush painting. “I also had a Chinese teacher for a life drawing class at King’s School. I fell in love with Chinese brush painting,” she said.

“My work is inspired by Victorian illustrators with a bit of Chinese thrown in,” she said with amusement. “It is a funny mix but I love experimenting and seeing what looks good and having a bit of a play.

“I really like British folklore books. I was introduced to it in childhood and I still use children’s books and reference books with local folklore to help with my work.”

In the spring of 2014, Kate joined forces with her mum and the stone masons at Worcester Cathedral to hold a joint exhibition called A Celebration of Nature in the Chapter House at the Cathedral.

“We got a really good response which was very encouraging. I sold some of my originals and prints from there and it was a good way to launch my range of art work. It was the launch of my career in the art world.”

Later that year she was selected to exhibit during the Herefordshire Art Week – a trail of local artists which attracts thousands of visitors to the area from all over the country – and went on to link up with Alice Brunt, head of development at King’s School, in producing a limited edition handmade artisan Christmas book called Yuletide Tale, based on the Holly and the Ivy Christmas carol.

“I really enjoyed making it and part of the charm is that it is handmade. It is very labour intensive,” added Kate.

Since then she has been expanding her range of work, attending art markets and moving closer to her dream of becoming a fully professional artist. “The first year was all about finding my style and creating a range and I’m doing lots more art markets now.”

But her career aspirations received a massive boost when the British Craft Trade Fair organisers contacted her recently inviting her to exhibit at this year’s event in Harrogate.

“It is the biggest show in the country and it is the biggest thing I have ever done. You have to register your interest with the fair to get details about it and lots of people spend a year preparing for it.”

But, out of the blue, Kate received a call from the organisers saying they really wanted her to take part in this year’s show as an up and coming newcomer.

“There are 500 exhibitors at the fair and there is an area for newcomers who have been going for less than three years and that is where I will be.

“I was really excited when they rang and really chuffed someone, from just looking at the images I sent, wanted me at the show. It is a very high standard at the show and it is a really good opportunity,” said Kate. “It is a big step up from doing local markets.”

For more details of Kate and her work visit

The British Craft Trade Fair takes place from Sunday April 10 to Tuesday April 12 at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.