Hats off to Kate Rohde: the artist infiltrating the fashion world
Full throttle colour
Amidst the kaleidoscopic frenzy of extravagant colour and texture that is a Romance Was Born show, the finer details can get lost in the chaos. Which is why you probably haven't heard of Melbourne artist Kate Rohde before - even though her out-of-this-world creations, fashioned from bright plastic, fake fur and rice paper, have paraded down many a catwalk atop a Romance Was Born model's head - often stealing the show from the looks below.
Rohde's whimsical resin and mixed media sculptures and jewellery have garnered her both a critical and cult following - her works are part of The National Gallery of Victoria's permanent collection and have been exhibited across the globe, from the UK to Japan to Lithuania. Her latest project, The 3D Jewellery Box, is a walk-in, 60 square metre space with a 2.4m x 1.5m Perspex diamond at its heart, designed in collaboration with Melbourne design studio The Cutaway. Rohde experimented with a 3D printing pen for the jewellery designs within the box (see for yourself in the video below) and here, she tells us a little bit about the experience.
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What inspires you?
I'm mainly inspired by nature and animals; I love natural history museums, old national geographic magazines and historical specimen engravings.
You use some unusual materials - what draws you to them and how did you start working with things like fake fur?
I started working with fake fur mainly because I didn't want to use any natural fibres. The aim of my work initially was to recreate nature using manmade, synthetic materials. Over time, I built up a repertoire of materials I feel an affinity working with.
What kinds of reactions do you tend to get to your work?
It varies widely: people tend to love it or hate it. People who love it generally like the wild abandon, crazy colour and decoration.
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What was the experience of creating jewellery using the 3D printing pen like?
It was interesting, it had some similarities to a couple of other materials I've worked with like coloured hot glue and acrylic gap filler but because it sets so quickly and only sticks to itself it was much faster and easier to work with and create forms out of.
What do you love about working with Romance Was Born?
I think we share a very similar aesthetic and since we're all around the same age we're influenced by a number of the same pop culture memories from growing up in the '80s. We were just generally on the same page when it came to discussing ideas and how things would look when we worked together.
Has your work garnered any other high profile fans you can tell us about?
At the opening of the Rigg Prize at the NGV which I was a finalist in, I met Fiona Patten, leader of the Sex Party, and she was quite a fan and thought Victorian Parliament House would benefit from some Kate Rohde pieces!
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Are there any other fashion collaborations in the pipeline?
For about the past year now I've been doing some collaborative work with Melbourne designer Alexi Freeman, mainly making some jewellery together. I just made a number of custom resin bangles for his MSFW show.
What parallels do you see between the worlds of art and fashion?
I think they are both art forms which encourage huge amounts of experimentation and play with materials, there also seems to be a lot of mutual inspiration between fashion and art and vice versa.
I'm currently working on an indoor sculpture commission that represents the life cycle of plants. It's based in the facts of what actually happens, but with lots of bright and decorative flourishes.
The 3D Jewellery Box is on display at Highpoint Shopping Centre until November 1.
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