The artworks of Melbourne-based artist and designer Kate Rohde are recognisable for their exuberant embrace of form and pattern. Baroque in style, highly ornate and vibrating with colour, the works claim a unique position in contemporary Australian design. Like many stylistic labels, the term Baroque, first used in the 17th century, was originally used as a pejorative term — in this case to signify deviation from the norm, something that seemed ‘impure’ and ‘irrational’. Recently acquired by MAAS, Rohde’s large-scale vase and digital wallpaper made in 2016 address these historical stylistic references in a contemporary and imaginative way.
Kate is recognised as a leading Australian maker who creates decorative objects, jewellery, wallpaper, interiors, sculpture and fashion. Her investigations into the changing nature and perception of decorative arts blur traditional boundaries between design, decorative art and fine art that is reflective of our time. Deer Vase is her largest polyurethane work to date and is made from a single mould, demonstrating an ambition in scale and scope. Her signature style conveys a sophistication and understanding of plasticity, materials and technique. The vase features small deer-like creatures entwined around its form, along with stylised plants, antlers, birds, gems and crystals.
The Museum also acquired at the same time a limited edition of Rohde’s bespoke Animal wallpaper, which was produced in collaboration with Interior Productions in Melbourne. The acquisition consists of digital files for the wallpaper, allowing the Museum to print and produce editions as needed for display. Serving as an interior design function, the wallpaper is both a way of dressing a room and also manipulating space. The excesses of the pattern and high-key colour create an almost psychedelic effect enhanced by the forms of birds, fantastical beasts (mutant kittens), antlers and floral patterns repeated through a sequence of colour gradients, including vibrant pinks, yellows and blues.
Written by Katie Dyer, Curator Contemporary.