AT HOME

Kate Pieku­towski brings her Pol­ish cul­ture to Sandy Bay

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Upfront - Kate Pieku­towski’s show The Ar­chi­tect is on at Colville Gallery, 91A Sala­manca Pl, un­til Wednesday, Septem­ber 20 WORDS BRADY MICHAELS PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS KIDD

A rtist Kate Pieku­towski’s love of pat­tern, dec­o­ra­tion and vin­tage style bright­ens the charm­ing, sym­met­ri­cal, Fed­er­a­tion-style house she shares with two house­mates at Sandy Bay. Her ca­sual yet “just-so” ap­proach to in­te­ri­ors brings cosi­ness and high­lights the el­e­gant home’s pe­riod features.

But for Kate, the con­cept of home is a com­plex one that fu­els ideas for her art, cross­ing cul­tural and ge­o­graph­i­cal lines from Ho­bart to Poland and be­yond.

With Kate’s birth­day fall­ing the day be­fore we vis­ited, we are treated to some of her mum’s cho­co­late birth­day torte – served with cups of Aero­press cof­fee – on a lounge draped with Kate’s much-loved cro­cheted ‘nanna blan­kets’. We drink from folk-art cups dec­o­rated with in­tri­cate Pol­ish pat­terns, which leads us to her cul­tural back­ground.

“I have a sort of mixed back­ground, be­cause I was brought up speak­ing Pol­ish and lived in a tra­di­tional Pol­ish house­hold at Ta­roona,” she says. “It took me a while to re­alise I was a bit dif­fer­ent from my friends, that we cel­e­brated dif­fer­ent cus­toms and tra­di­tions.”

Kate’s vivid imag­i­na­tion and child­hood fas­ci­na­tion with her Eastern Euro­pean roots cre­ated a fan­tasy-fu­elled pic­ture of Poland that was both con­firmed and shat­tered on her first trip there at age 12. De­spite the shock of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a so­ci­ety very dif­fer­ent from Tas­ma­nia, it opened her eyes to rich cul­tural tra­di­tions of art-mak­ing – par­tic­u­larly etch­ing – that ul­ti­mately led her to pur­sue a ca­reer as a print­maker.

“When we were there my par­ents took me to ev­ery sin­gle mu­seum they could. Re­ally, I blame them for me be­com­ing an artist,” she laughs. “My un­cle also had a col­lec­tion of 300-year-old etch­ings that are in­cred­i­bly de­tailed, which we brought back here.”

Sub­se­quent trips to Poland yielded cof­fee cups, an em­broi­dered table­cloth and other Pol­ish folk art, all sym­bols of the con­nec­tion she has felt with the coun­try from a young age. “For many years I just wanted to be in Poland, I wanted to go home,” she says.

“I felt like I was float­ing be­tween two worlds, not be­long­ing here or there.”

This yearn­ing for a sense of place and per­me­ates her etch­ings, which she refers to as “semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal, dark and emo­tional”. She of­ten places a ver­sion of her­self in her images, along with mo­tifs as­so­ci­ated with travel, his­tory, the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and ar­chi­tec­ture, with the lat­ter fea­tur­ing strongly in her latest se­ries.

“I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in the con­structed world and my print­mak­ing is also very much about the con­struc­tion of an im­age,” she says. “I’m ques­tion­ing how so­ci­ety works, what we’ve built and how we iden­tify our­selves within a com­mu­nity.”

Ruby shoes ap­pear in many of Kate’s works, clearly ref­er­enc­ing Dorothy’s yearn­ing for home in The Wiz­ard of Oz, but in a per­sonal, Pol­ish-Aus­tralian con­text.

We con­clude our con­ver­sa­tion in her pale-blue bed­room, which is bathed in morn­ing light from the bay win­dow. It’s a nos­tal­gic scene with dis­plays of pat­terned vin­tage dresses, old suit­cases, ce­ram­ics and hand­painted gui­tars she cus­tomised dur­ing artist res­i­den­cies in Greece and New Zealand.

While Kate reg­u­larly trav­els abroad to cre­ate new work, her love for home­town Ho­bart has grown stronger. She ex­plains a turn­ing point when she gen­uinely started to con­nect with her Tas­ma­nian sur­round­ings.

“I started in­clud­ing Tas­ma­nian flora in my work, and re­alised there are things here that are so beau­ti­ful and that I can’t see any­where else in the world,” she says. “That was when I re­ally started to ap­pre­ci­ate what I have here.”

Clock­wise from top left, artist Kate Pieku­towski at her Sandy Bay home; some of Kate’s gui­tars, which she painted at res­i­den­cies in Greece and New Zealand; the ex­te­rior of the Fed­er­a­tion-style home;a gui­tar Kate dec­o­rated and plays; a vinyl record; and one of her art­works, Nos­tal­gia For Home.

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