Melbourne artist Kate Rohde digs deeper into her Baroque crush in a new immersive installation at Craft Victoria
If you saw Kate Rohde's work in the 2015 Rigg Prize exhibition at NGV Federation Square, you'll know what to expect from her new show at Craft Victoria: a colourful, immersive and ornate room installation in which even the wallpaper is part of the work.
Rohde creates rococo resin sculptures and vessels in rainbow hues, intensely detailed with crystalline formations and clusters of flora and fauna.
Luminous Realms adopts a Baroque, maximalist approach to interior decoration: existing works from across her decade-deep practice will be presented across two rooms that are papered with three different wallpapers created digitally by the artist, using photographs of her works. (Yes, the wallpaper will be available to purchase – contact Craft Victoria for details).
The exhibition is arranged chronologically, taking viewers on a journey through Rohde's work with resin – from what she describes as her more 'fine arts' works through to her more product-oriented design work (for example, her vases). "You can sort of see, as you move through, how my skills have improved – hopefully," she laughs.
At the end of the journey is the pièce de résistance: a new urn that is also her largest single-cast resin piece to date. "It's probably the hardest single cast that I've done," she says.
Rohde traces her aesthetic back to two residencies: in 2007, an Australia Council studio residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; and in 2008, an Asialink visual arts residency at the Tokyo Wonder Site centre, in Japan. The former exposed her to authentic French Baroque and Rococo works; the latter inspired her to think beyond naturalism and go full fantasy.
“Before that I was doing more traditional museum diorama-type pieces – a lot less colourful, far more based in reality. After doing those residencies, that’s when my work became more fantastical.”
Rohde’s work are made from polymer resin – the kind abundant in everyday life, from white-goods to garden furniture. In its molten form it can be used to cast works, using molds made from plasticine.
On future directions, Rohde says: “I’m hoping to make more of these ambitiously huge works – now that I know how to make something really big. I’d also like to do some bronze or brass casting – though it’s quite expensive. I guess the thing that keeps me interested is learning new skills and incorporating them into my work.”