Pilkington was born in Manchester, England. She attended the Art Foundation course at the North Chester College of Art in Northwich, then went on to study Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1986. She graduated in 1991, with first-class honours, and in the same year was awarded the first John Watson Prize for Art. She also taught in America and India in 1989–1990. She exhibited with the Bruton Gallery in Bath from 1992, and was part of the 1st RWA Open Sculpture Exhibition in 1993.
In 1999, the sculpture Bill and Bob, depicting two Jack Russell terriers swimming in a pool, was installed in Millennium Square in Bristol. This was Pilkington's first commission for a public space, and it is executed with the dogs rendered in painted bronze in a pool of vivid blue rubber flush with the square's paving.
Pilkington's "amusing and ambiguously sentimental sculptures" were included in the three-man show, 'Off the Leash', at the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield in 2003; the same year that her Homonculus, miniature sculpture of a boy was displayed outside the then headquarters of The Economist. At the time she was based in London as a lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts. In 2012, she had an exhibition entitled The Value of the Paw at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London.
- "Cathie Pilkington RA". Royal Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Buckman, D. (2006). Artists in Britain since 1945, Volume 2: M–Z. Art Dictionaries Ltd. ISBN 095326095-X.
- "Bill and Bob". Art and the Public Realm Bristol. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
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