Kate Elkington: Bringing Risa the Unicorn to life

Have you heard? Unicorns are flying into Bristol this Summer all in aid of Leukaemia Care! We met with Kate, one of our fabulous artists involved in the trail to talk all things art, inspirations and Unicorns…

Kate Elkinton is a Bristol-born abstract and mixed-media artist. Her inspiration comes from her strong urge to communicate joyous emotions, human connections, happy experiences and memories. She does this through vibrant colour, bold shapes and expressive mark-making using all manner of materials and techniques. 

Whether she’s out dancing with friends, enjoying a chilli margarita or creating art, the feelings she gets from these activities are the inspiration behind her creativity. She is particularly motivated to paint happiness, excitement, joy and freedom, which looks like sunburst shapes, circles, and plenty of neons! 

She has joined our herd of artists who have been painting Unicorns for UnicornFest; a trail of beautifully designed Unicorns in Bristol and selected areas of the South West. This trail will raise awareness of leukaemia and all proceeds will ensure Leukaemia Care can continue supporting the lives of those affected by a diagnosis. 

Kate, tell us a little more about how you got into art. 

I was very arty as a child and completed a Fashion and Textiles degree in my early twenties. After a few very uncreative jobs, I trained as a secondary school art teacher, supporting teenagers in making art and passing their exams. I loved teaching, but I rarely had a chance to create anything for myself. 

So, whilst homeschooling my three boys in the first COVID-19 lockdown, I had a strong urge to create and began exploring all different kinds of art making. I didn’t feel like any of the mediums were for me, so I gave up trying to produce something polished and went crazy exploring materials and techniques. Out of the mess I was creating (and it was quite a mess!) these vibrant colours, bold shapes and expressive marks flowed out of me, and I found my style. 

So why did you want to share your talent with UnicornFest? 

I heard about UnicornFest on social media and immediately wanted to know more. I found out it was in aid of Leukaemia Care, a charity very close to my heart having lost my beautiful friend Kara to it only last year. So to be truthful, I was desperate to paint a Unicorn! I wanted to do it for my kids, for myself as an artist, but most of all, for Kara. I was over the moon when my design was accepted. 

So tell us about the Unicorn you have brought to life!

I designed ‘Risa’ meaning laughter in Spanish, with my happy memories of Kara in mind. Kara was incredibly warm-hearted, vibrant, playful, and loved a good bit of fun! This, along with other feel-good emotions that often inspire my art, such as excitement, joy and love are the essence of Risa the Unicorn. My hope is that anyone who sees Risa can connect to their own lovely experiences, happy memories and good feelings.

If you are in the South West or Bristol area this Summer, be sure to pay Risa a visit! You can find out more about the trail, as well as key locations and what else Leukaemia Care have in store here.

 “Risa is a very happy unicorn who wants to express all her joyous feelings and emotions such as excitement, freedom and love through the vibrant colours and bold shapes on her coat. She especially wants to help connect you to your own experiences and memories of feeling good!”

Unicorns are flying into Bristol – here is what you need to know

  • Join us in Bristol between 1st July to 3rd September for this Summer’s biggest attraction
  • 59 large Unicorns will be on display across the South West as well as 43 foals who will be in schools
  • Want to find out more? Head over to UnicornFest’s official website here


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