June Mostra 2017 / Meet the artists… Kate Power

Last Thursday saw the opening of this year’s June Mostra, and it was a great pleasure to see the work of our resident artists brought together for a fantastic exhibition. Here we give you an insight into the practice of Helpmann Academy Resident Kate Power, who discusses here the process behind her Mostra pieces.

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Kate Power. Photo by Antonio Palmieri.

Kate Power embraces video, performance, textiles, sculpture and installation to investigate enforced social constructs that can complicate the way people relate to one another. Power observes social interactions to consider how seemingly insignificant moments have psychological and physiological impacts. These ideas form a framework to consider humour, loneliness, uncertainty and suppressed desire. Through a lens of queer and feminist theories, Power considers modes of generating knowledge through observing everyday experiences and making processes.

What will you be showing in the Mostra?

I’m showing a work of three sculptures. The forms are made from things I’ve accumulated here, like packaging I don’t need anymore and things I’ve found in the workshop, and covered with layers of gesso and paint. The process of making the forms has been ongoing over my residency and I think reflects things I’ve noticed about Rome. I’ve been interested in movement and gesture in sculpture and the way the architecture is layered, changing form and adding new parts onto old structures. Making these works has been a process of adding and taking over time. It’s a development of my usual process that has been inspired by being here and observing the layers and textures of the city.

 

Part of your practice involves ‘observing everyday experiences’ – how does being at the BSR, and in Rome more generally, feed into that?

These works seem to embody a feeling or reaction and I think they are responses to lots of things I’ve been seeing and experiencing here but also the intimate social environment of the BSR. It’s been interesting living in such close living quarters with other artists and scholars. I think being in a country where I don’t speak the language and you feel like a foreigner increases my awareness of the kind of otherness I think about in relation to feeling alienated or distanced from other people. That space and the ways people intercept it are what interests me and I think being here has made me more sensitive to this, so I’ve drawn on it in new ways.

How has working alongside this group of artists and scholars impacted your work?

I’ve connected with another artist here, Catherine Parsonage, and we’ve made a collaborative work together. Our ideas cross over and we’d been having lots of conversations that led to kind of embodying the conversations we were having, or perhaps embodying the process of communication. Spending time with the scholars has made me see things from other perspectives too and knowing about their projects has certainly informed the way I approach looking at history. Thinking about layers and the way things develop on top of one another actually started from walking around with a scholar here who was talking about the way new structures were added on to existing buildings and so a lot of the architecture is an amalgamation over time. I liked this idea for thinking about human interactions and the moments that build up in people to shape the way they see things or even the way they hold their body.

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Still of video installation by Kate Power and Catherine Parsonage.

Which spaces in Rome – either public spaces, museums, or galleries – have been of particular interest to you?

Since I arrived I’ve been drawn to the empty apses on the outsides of buildings. Something about these spaces that seem designed for something that isn’t there has stayed on my mind. Something about absence but with an implied object or thing is compelling to me. My work centres on non-specific connections that impact on people in subtle ways and I think something about these elusive spaces has provoked my thinking about things in between, a kind of engagement and non-engagement. Also I have the desire to put my sculptures in them. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sculpture. Not in a particular gallery but I’ve been drawn to certain gestures like hands holding objects and reaching behind, covering bodies.

 

Have you been experimenting with new techniques or new mediums since being at the BSR?

The technique or wrapping things together to make forms isn’t new to me but layering plaster and paint the way I have on these sculptures is new. I wanted to expose layers underneath while still applying more layers and also give a kind of humourous reference to marble. When I came here I wanted to do marble carving but given the time restraints I wasn’t able to do a course. I took some close up photos of marble and I think the new process I’ve developed might look as if it’s trying to pose as marble.

Looking ahead, do you have any projects lined up for when you return to Australia?

I expect I’ll be working with my experiences in Rome for a while. I’ve done a lot of drawing and planning for new works while I’ve been here and I anticipate I’ll turn that into a body of work when I go home. I would like to expand these sculptures into a larger installation and I also have some plans for wall hangings, curtains and videos.


Kate’s work will be exhibited alongside the six other resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Friday 16 June until Saturday 24 June 2017, closed Sundays.

All photos by Kate Power.

Interview conducted by Ellie Johnson (Communications & Events)

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