Tell us a bit about you!
My name is Kate and I’m an Australian living in beautiful New Zealand.
My upbringing had a big impact on the work that I create now. I have an identical twin sister and we spent our early years in a haunted house overlooking the ocean. My family heritage is Celtic and Aboriginal, so I’ve always felt deeply connected to nature and spirituality. I was a very serious child with Catholic guilt and family trauma – it all made for the complex mix of the person I am now!
How did your love of photography come about?
I started with drawing and painting in my early teens and explored photography for the first time at age sixteen after visiting a Bill Henson exhibition. It had a profound impact on me; here was someone expressing the way I felt in a very direct way but with a potent mysterious quality.
There’s always been a sense of magic in the process of photography. You have a certain amount of control but in the end, the picture turns out how it wants to. I love the element of surprise with film and that’s a large part of the reason why I strictly shoot film now.
What do you document and why are you attracted to these scenes?
I’ve always been drawn to portraiture, including self-portraiture. Women in quiet moments of reverie, channelling spirits, levitating or draped in cloth. I’ll also create still lives of flowers and ritualistic scenes. My personal taste is imagery that hints at a narrative but doesn’t reveal the full story.
There’s undoubtedly a gothic element to my work that’s always been there innately. I was obsessed with Joan of Arc when I was 10 years old. I was just thinking about that recently; the religious ecstasy/visions, the strong and singular female element and eventual burning at the stake. It’s no surprise I create the work I do now.
What gives you the motivation to continue pursuing your craft?
There’s always more to learn and explore. It’s important to keep following your curiosity as it always leads to the next thing, read, connect with other artists. Keep the fire burning to change things for the better around you. Hopefully people connect with what you do along the way.
Do you have any advice for other artists?
I don’t know that I’m in a position to give great advice, but what I’ve learnt with my very specific practice is be at peace with your flow of creative output and know that it’s always there to pick up and put down again.
I also think it’s important to experiment a lot early on with different visuals and techniques. Look inward at your own life and point of view rather than others’ (although it’s important to know which artists you align with). Be a part of a community who builds you up and learn from those around you. You’re at an advantage if you can do your own writing and understand your practice from a thematic point of view.
What’s your current camera setup and go-to film?
I’ve been shooting on an old Yashica Mat LM, which is a medium format camera, for the past few years. I’ve never been very concerned with shooting on the best equipment, I had to be resourceful growing up and I’ve always believed it’s what you bring to the camera than the type you own. It’s been working a charm for me even though the film winder often gets stuck and I might lose a frame or two. I love cameras with a bit of character and history.
I often use black velvet for a backdrop, ambient light and maybe a reflector. I’ll set up a scene in my backyard or scout locations – beaches or abandoned buildings. The film type will depend on the theme, for example if I’m looking for extra grain or a more polished look. I shot some self-portraiture last year on Lomography film that you guys developed for me. I loved that it turned out almost unreadable! It really disrupted the female form (to speak of myself objectively).
What artists do you look up to?
I’m really inspired by the community of artists around me. Hayley Theyers and Mary Macgregor-Reid are two incredible Auckland photographers. Also the painter Louise Greig and her daughter Sophie MacDonnell. There are so many amazing female artists in Auckland deserving of more recognition.
In a broader sense I love Diane Arbus, Man Ray, Julia Margaret Cameron and NZ’s Ben Cauchi.
Any upcoming projects we can know about?
I’m excited to finally be a part of the Auckland Festival of Photography this month. Hayley Theyers, Mary Macgregor-Reid and I are responding to the work of the painter and occultist Ithell Colquhoun. It’s been a real journey exploring her work and attempting to do her justice. There’s so much to gain from her practice so I’m excited to help give her a second life here in New Zealand, where she appears to be rather obscure.
I was in five shows last year so I plan on going at a slower pace, focusing on research and reflecting. The rest of the year is uncertain but I’m eager to see what’s on the horizon.
Where do you hope to be, in terms of your craft, in 5-10 years from now?
I’ve always wanted to do an artist residency and I’d love to get national and international work. In general, I hope I’m pushing myself to try new things, develop a greater sense of self and continue gaining confidence.
Where can we view more work:
Pop into Black Asterisk if you’re in Ponsonby where they’ve got some of my work to view.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work!