Kate’s other hat

Kate Wilson
Kate interviewed by N8N on March 7 2016 – five days after taking over the cafe. Pic: Annette Taylor

Kate Wilson is the co-owner of Prof’s at Woodlands Cafe in Gordonton. Unsurprisingly she wears many hats – Kate talks to Number 8 Network about art and Mind Stretch, her current exhibition in Hamilton.

Do you, in fact, have any spare time?!
It has definitely shrunk in the last year, but I am working on expanding it soon – hopefully, desperately…

Is it really just over a year that you and (husband) Allan started at the café?
Yep, March 1 2016 was C-Day (C=Crazy or Café – take your pick!)

How has it been?
It’s been a steep learning curve with many ups and downs. Now I’m feeling we’ve got a handle on it – almost. It was a good decision to make though. It saved us going stagnant and has definitely opened up another chapter in our lives.

How many new ideas have you rolled out and do you have more up your sleeve?
Many around transforming a tired café to a vibrant café/restaurant/bar – from menu plans enabling us to cater to larger groups, cooking techniques to enhance flavour, texture and speed of service to various events. We’ve got loads of new ideas, such as new a condiment range, herbal infusions and cocktails, a new cookbook, holding board games, plus opening up another Prof’s in town.

Prof's at Woodlands
Team Wilson – Son Ben, left, and Kate and Allan in March last year.

One sentence to describe the last year?
One word – Evolutionary. One sentence? It’s been an educational leap out of our respective comfort zones, but rewarding in terms of what we have created.

So – how do you find time to create?
There is less time now. There are always ideas percolating (coffee joke), but to paint I would prefer to have a couple of hours – largely uninterrupted.

Where do you paint?
On our kitchen table.

Are there any rituals you need to get going?
‘A’ glass of wine, music or mindless TV/film in the background and the knowledge I don’t have to leap up and be distracted by something.

How long have you painted? When and how did you start?
Twenty-seven years. (Yes, I am that old! (53)) When I was 26, and before maternal hormones kicked in, I had ticked off a number of ‘achievements’. Namely physics and chemistry degrees, marriage, own house, patent attorney qualification, about to be partner in the little intellectual property law firm. I got restless and wanted to do something different, creative and difficult that I had no aptitude for. So I taught myself to paint.

Could you describe your work.
I’m a conceptual artist, as in most of my paintings have a message that I just wanted to get out of my system. Some of them also reflect lyrics in songs. My style is slightly surreal, and often you have to look a number of times to pick up all the elements.



You recently held an exhibition – how did this come about and how did it go?
It’s still on at Welcome Swallow Gallery and Gift Shop in Hamilton East until the end of May. The Gilson’s who have a hefty interest in the Gallery like my work and asked if I could display it again there. I sold some pieces last time and as the Gallery’s commission goes to the children’s charities they support, they were keen to see if we could generate more interest in the gift shop and painting sales again.

What has been the feedback/reaction to your work?
I ended up selling two paintings before the exhibition formally opened (yeah!) and had a good reaction from the attendees at the opening.   And I’ve just heard another one has sold.

Kate Wilson art

What challenges have you had to face?
Art-wise? Lack of talent, patience and coordination, plus not having the time I want to indulge in it. Actually those challenges plague most aspects of my life…

What art projects have you got going now?
Am paused on my Windows series which is a number of eyes that once you look into them more deeply, you see what they are feeling, motivated by.


Kate Wilson art



What would you like to achieve in the future?
World domination in a number of areas. A Prof’s franchise would be good. A fully creative phase with art, food, sculpture and games would be nice. Then a spiritual journey where we visit distilleries, wineries and breweries around the world. Would love to do a book or TV doco on that. The cruise for a year or two on The World cruise ship. More time to garden.

What do you love about your work? The café and art…
The beautiful Woodlands environment plus creating, evolving and the great feedback. Ego must be stroked to keep this kitty purring.

Has Allan got any secret talents?
Yes, but as his wife I’m sworn to secrecy…

Where do you get inspiration? (For work, and for life.)
Oh, just the easy questions now. In general I love challenges, problem solving and making things better. Inspiration is drawn from all around, I like sensory combinations and looking for connections. Creating something new and better is inspiring. I spent 29 years in the innovation space, understanding inventions, advising inventors on how to make the most of their innovation.

What is your advice for someone starting out?
Find a mentor and have a strategic plan. Another string to my bow is working with groups to prepare their strategy plans. I do it for free for volunteer organisations. See helpful link here.

And the final question for Kate – what are the answers to Friday night’s Quiz?
To which she replied ‘Ha ha.’

Click here for an N8N profile on Kate and Allan.


Kate Wilson Mind Stretch


  • Prof’s at Woodlands is on the Woodlands Estate, 42 Whitikahu Road, Gordonton.  Open Monday to Thursday 9am to 3.30pm, Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday, Sunday 9am to 4pm.  Phone 027 4690694.


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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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