The idea of basing an exhibition on themes of the Renaissance and prehistoric animals may leave some at loss. The same can’t be said of Melbourne artist Kate Rohde and celebrated Sydney fashion duo Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales (aka Romance Was Born), whose collaborative show Renaissance Dinosaur opens at Richmond’s Karen Woodbury Gallery tonight.
“My work tends to mash up historical art styles and natural history already,” says Rohde, whose intricately detailed, hyper-colourful dioramas, displays and taxidermy replicas have seen her garner an inimitable reputation across the Australian art landscape. “There’s something I find quite fascinating about the idea of containing things, the same way a museum display does. At the same time, I just really love that totally insane, over-the-top detail and labour of the Baroque and Renaissance periods.”
Renaissance Dinosaur is a continuation of Romance and Rohde’s collaboration for Australian Fashion Week in May – in which Plunkett and Sales commissioned Rohde to make dinosaurs and headpieces in response to their spectacularly colour-drenched spring/summer collection. The exhibition will feature a series of Rohde’s garish, nonetheless adorable, synthetic fur, expanding foam and papier-mâché dinosaurs, to be complimented by a clutch of Romance’s psychedelic prints and “museum piece” garments.
“What we’re showing isn’t really clothing as such,” says Plunkett. “It’s pieces that relate to Kate’s specific work and what inspired us in our collection.”
“They’re more like showpieces,” adds Sales. “Pieces that have been made without the constraints of being a ready-to-wear garments.”
Indeed, for the duo, who came up with the Renaissance Dinosaur theme after a trip to Florence, working in an artistic context doesn’t feel foreign in the slightest. “It’s kind of like the way we work anyway,” says Plunkett. “We like to make things that you can’t buy off the shelf, things where there’s nothing else like it out there.”
Renaissance Dinosaur runs until September 18 at Karen Woodbury Gallery.