Art Curator Takeover: Artist Kate Robinson at Birkenhead Point

By Louisa Tiley

Artist Kate Robinson talks the complex paper designs that feature in her installation Couture in Bloom for Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre.

This summer the Art Pharmacy team are bringing Birkenhead Point Centre to life through exciting installations by a number of established Australian artists, including Jo Neville AKA Paper Couture.

This week writer Louisa Tiley spoke to paper maestro Kate Robinson about her elaborate contribution to the Birkenhead Point space. A spacious window display will house Robinson’s intricate, paper-based dresses - a body of work titled Couture in Bloom. They’re dramatic and oversized, with butterfly laden skirts draping up the walls in a fan-like way.

Read on to find out more about Robinson’s unique artistic approach, motivation behind her recent works and ongoing evolution as an artist.

What are the steps in creating each piece (and how long does the process generally take)?
I always start with a mood board. I collect images that I have sourced online from web searches and Instagram etc. I normally do this over a couple of weeks. Then I will narrow down my images to a moodboard of colours, textures and shapes that I think will work well.

While I am collecting images I will be thinking about my own designs and shapes that I want to work with and this will determine the final moodboards. I will make some initial sketches and doodles on paper but I will mainly put my concepts together on the computer.

  Early concepts for  Couture in Bloom .

Early concepts for Couture in Bloom.

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For this project, and previous paper outfits I have made, I don’t make final sketches of how the pieces will look. I find it easier to have a rough concept and then create the final design as I make the outfits, this allows me more freedom.

How crucial is the butterfly symbol to this work?
The butterfly is the key symbol in my outfits, they are symbols of transformation and growth but also of fragility, and paper can be such a fragile medium to work with.

By not having a finalised sketch to base these pieces on I can adapt and change them as they come together. I think this element of the outfits growing into their own creation as I add butterflies reflects the symbol of the butterfly and metamorphosis.

 A close up of Kate Robinson’s paper butterflies.

A close up of Kate Robinson’s paper butterflies.

What’s the motivation behind your vibrant colour palette?
As my work will be displayed in the warmer months, and the colour palette for Birkenhead Point was called bright summer, I wanted to make sure I used bright colours in my art project. Spring and summer are times for new life and growth and I thought that a rainbow of colours would reflect the season change and also reflect the new development for Birkenhead Point.

 Paper samples from Couture in Bloom.

Paper samples from Couture in Bloom.

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What materials do you use? And where do you source them?
For this project I am working in mainly in paper. It's so tactile and it comes in so many textures, thicknesses and colours. I enjoy working out how paper can be manipulated to form different shapes, and that it can be beautiful flat as well as 3D.

I liaise directly with paper houses to source my paper, as it means I can buy the sheets in a larger format and have access to a wider variety of thicknesses, finishes and colours.

For the base construction of Couture in Bloom I have also used different bodysuits and an actual suit to adhere the paper butterflies to. The skirts of the butterflies are made from fishing line.

How do you view the relationship between fashion and art?
I like the concept of fashion as art and I do not feel that art needs to be only hung on walls or shown in an art space. Fashion, like art, is about people having something to say and a way to express themselves.

Have you encountered many challenges in the fashion space?
The only fashion pieces I have ever created have been in paper, which can be quite a challenge in itself - but it’s the challenge I enjoy most. Working out how I can make paper into a material that can be draped like fabric really interests me as paper has a much more rigid fibre structure than most fabrics.

When, how and why did you get into art making?
I have always enjoyed drawing and creating art. I studied fine arts at university but ending up working in graphic design once I graduated. Since I started working fulltime in graphic design, I have created artworks in my own time through the medium of drawing, painting and papercuts.

I saw a paper artist present at Semi Permanent in 2013 and decided I wanted to do that for a living. I have had some great opportunities over the past 4 years working in paper, and most of my paper works are commercial commissions.

My next plan is to create a collection of personal paper pieces over the next 12 months, inspired by travels from the last few years - particularly the Moorish patterns and architecture from Spain, Morocco and India.

Who is your art idol?
I don’t have one art idol, but there are several artists that inspire me (although my own work doesn’t necessarily reflect their styles).

I really like the graphic, bold style of both Andy Warhol and Meggs, an Australia graffiti artist. I have worked in graphic design for the past 15 years and I can see similarities between their use and choices of colour in my own graphic design work.

Other artists and their work that inspire me include John Lennon’s illustrations and paper artist Matt Shlian’s geometric pieces.

You can view Robinson’s Couture in Bloom at Birkenhead Point from 3rd November 2017.

MCA X VANDAL Gallery: Ask An Artist Anything

Written by Louisa Tiley

The latest MCA Young Ambassadors event was much more personal than regulars are used to. Hosted by Redfern’s new kid on the block, Vandal Gallery, it was an intimate gathering of artists and art lovers - all curious about the relationship between creatives and their work.

On the night Vandal’s current selection of vibrant artists - Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell and Marnie Ross - played an active role in a private viewing of their exhibition Somewhere Between.

It was a unique evening which endeavoured to break down the often impermeable barrier between artist and audience. To achieve this the three exhibiting artists were part of a speed-dating style session during which attendees could “ask them anything” about their practice, creative process, mentality or career.

A bell was used to signal three minute intervals, when guests rotated to the next artist. However many of the more sneaky patrons ignored it to stay for 6, 9 or 12 minutes, in order to delve further into compelling discussions.

Marnie Ross was the first artist I spoke to. Seated beneath a selection of her bright, graphic paintings, we chatted candidly about how printmaking and design inform her abstract compositions. She is closely influenced by the detail and movement inherent in nature - something strongly evident in the wooden textures of Every Night.

Ariella Friend’s work provided an interesting point of contrast, as three dimensional pieces which challenge the boundaries between painting and sculpture. I loved hearing about her sustainable approach - particularly the way she reuses discarded items alongside new materials to reflect the complexities of consumerism. This was most clear in my favourite of her works, Composition in Metallics.

Joi Murugavell completed the collection. She was wearing one of her signature outfits - a blazer, pants and hat combo printed with her own artwork. I was immediately drawn to her bold, witty paintings, with works such as Bad Art Day and A Small Plot Change cleverly playing with cultural iconography.

It’s interesting to note that all three artists began their creative careers with design backgrounds. Because of this Vandal’s exhibition subtly confronted the stigma against graphic designers which often influences contemporary art critique.

This was just one of many refreshing aspects of the night. Having honest, open conversations with artists brought up insightful questions about the future of the industry and how young artists can carve their own unique paths to success.

Elyssa Sykes-Smith interview: School Holiday Workshops

This school holiday, local Sydney artist Elyssa Sykes-Smith, graduate of NAS and Sculpture By The Sea prize winner, will be leading workshops in East Village Shopping Centre for some artists in miniature (alongside their parents).

The arts and crafts activity will involve the creation of designs on timber letters, to later be installed on Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s hoarding at Green Square Town Centre. Mini artists and parents are invited to come see their handiwork once the artwork has been installed and grab a free hot drink from The Social Corner.

Why are kids so great to work as an artist?
I think the biggest reason why kids are so fun to work with  is that they’re not controlled by what is wrong, and what is right, and they’ll join together dots that we would sometimes stop ourselves doing as adults. So they can come up with amazing , creative combinations and ideas that just flow so naturally. And you can see that just with the artworks they made today. They approach it completely differently than I would and it’s really refreshing.

Do you try and incorporate this approach into your practice?
I think the more you’re around something, the more it rubs off. So that approach means I’m learning from it and it's an exchange. I think people often get too trapped into thinking we’re teaching kids things - but really we facilitate experiences for children and then we learn from them.

Any breakthrough creative moments when working with children?
Sometimes. Sometimes we’re just having a little chat about something and I’ll suggest they draw something - like a flower. And they’ll be like , “What?! Flowers? That’s so yesterday”.  Or they make the flower into something else that we were talking about, like a dragon, and they go on a creative journey.

Calling All Future Espo’s: School Holiday Workshop For Mini Artists

Art Pharmacy Consulting is excited to work with Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW to be part of the strengthening of the local community at Green Square through art and collaboration.

Dates:
Friday 14th July: 9am-5pm
Saturday 15th July: 9am-5pm

Where:
East Village Shopping Centre
4 Defries Ave, Zetland NSW 2017

As part of Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s creative hoarding initiative, there will be exclusive art making workshops for the world’s top creative thinkers... kids!

This school holiday, local Sydney artist Elyssa Sykes-Smith, graduate of NAS and Sculpture By The Sea prize winner, will be leading workshops in East Village Shopping Centre for some artists in miniature (alongside their parents).

The arts and crafts activity will involve the creation of designs on timber letters, to later be installed on Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s hoarding at Green Square Town Centre. Mini artists and parents are invited to come see their handiwork once the artwork has been installed and grab a free hot drink from The Social Corner.

Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW have opened The Social Corner at Green Square Town Centre. This new community meeting point is a space to relax, grab a coffee, collaborate and be inspired. There’s free Wi-Fi too.

The letters will spell out:
INSPIRE
ART
YOU

We want the creation of this artwork, as well as the final product, to reflect the importance of coming together, and getting to know each other. In short, the transforming nature of community in Green Square.

Read here about the giant rooster we created with Mirvac & Sykes-Smith for Chinese New Year

VANDAL Gallery: Tamara Mendels 'Alchemical Spills' Launch

Opening night for Tamara Mendels ‘Alchemical Spills’ exhibition at V∆ND∆L Gallery attracted a diverse crowd of artists, media and creative industry patrons from the local precinct and broader Sydney city.  In collaboration with Vandal, exhibited eleven artworks in total from Mendels’ new collection. Created from acrylic, epoxy resin and pigment on canvas, the works included four with tactile and protruding features.  

Mendels was quite pleased with the attendance for the exhibition, although mentioning, “[at least] 20% of the crowd were some of my friends [who came to lend support]!”.  

All White Ceremony (2017) a large canvas painting made from acrylic, epoxy resin and enamel will have a new wall to hang on in a couple of weeks, as it was sold just prior to the official opening of the exhibition.  As early as her third year of art school, Mendels has been selling her works -0 so it’s not surprising this work was snapped up so quickly. However, it continues to receive an impressive amount of attention.  

“My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes…”

Read our interview with Mendels here

Stay tuned for announcements regarding next month's Vandal exhibition!

Contact us here for purchase enquiries

Art Pharmacy Consulting x Deloitte Sydney

Art Pharmacy Consulting worked with Deloitte to curate the ‘Playing with Perspectives: New views from emerging artist’ exhibition. We worked with 20 artists to gather and commission over 70 works that have adorned Deloitte space in Grosvenor Place, Circular Quay for 3 months, from 26th of April to the 29th of July 2016. Throughout the duration of the show prominent emerging artists’ works are on display for Deloitte’s 3000+ staff and their guests throughout the meeting and reception area of the office.

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