Katharine Swailes worked in costume construction and embellishment before studying tapestry weaving at postgraduate level in 1998. Swailes creates her artist-led tapestries from her studio in West Sussex, and also as a master-weaver for commissioning studios in Sussex. In 2016 Swailes was awarded a Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers Award to support the making of the series Glyphs and Loops series. Swailes is a selected member of Contemporary Applied Arts since 2016.
She uses mainly linen, wool and cotton, materials used in hand worked textiles for thousands of years. This heritage informs Swailes who creates handwoven tapestries, which are wall based and sculptural. The materials chosen inform the shape and form of the piece and a palette of traditional and newly created techniques create the surface structure. Swailes exhibits national and internationally.