take a trip with kitty callaghan’s surreal collages
From nude women emerging out of rock formations to strategically placed lillies, the Australian artist’s collaged worlds will melt your mind.
Kitty Callaghan has been making things ever since she was little. As a kid she'd spend her days cutting, pasting, and building up her scrapbook in the Southern Highlands of Australia. Fast-forward to today and she's still doing exactly that. Mixing vintage photos of her friends with a plethora of found imagery, Kitty's collages blend the personal and the impersonal, the real and the surreal. Positioning the female form as her central focus, Kitty creates fantastical worlds where nothing is what it seems. In one piece, a woman wraps her arms around a giant cut out lily; in another, a female form emerges out of a rock formation. With collaborations with Woolmark, Ellery, and Russh to her name, Kitty is fast becoming one to watch. Here we talk to the ethereal artist about the beauty of nostalgia and why your gender should never determine your art.
Tell me about yourself and where you grew up.
My name is Kitty and I make collages among other things. I grew up in a place called the Southern Highlands in Australia. I more or less hated it until I moved to the city. Then I realized it was a beautiful place to grow up. I feel that is often the case with country towns.
When did you first get into art?
As a kid I guess… perhaps questionable art. Maybe it wasn't art at all.
Why collage in particular?
I love scrapbooking and cutting and pasting. I used to make birthday scrapbooks for friends in high school and I guess it evolved from there.
Who or what inspires you?
Traveling to new places is usually a good source of inspiration. I guess my biggest inspiration is the female body.
How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
My work is nostalgic and I like to create depth — using textures, using found imagery or photos that I have taken, along with paint.
Tell us about your creative process.
I cut out old pictures from books and magazines I collect, or photos that I have taken, and put them together to make my own little world.
What is it you're trying to do with your art?
Maybe to give old photos new life. I love going to my camera man and going through his abandoned box of photos that were left at his shop from the 70s onwards and picking out pictures of people and then working with these images. I often wonder who these people are and where they might be today, if they are still around, what their stories are. Mostly, I'm trying to enjoy myself while making collages.
Why is it so important to give visibility to female artists?
Because it's important for artists to have visibility, regardless of their gender. I hate the term "female artists." It's funny that with music, critics always label a band made up of women a "girl band" but a band made up of men is just a band.
Should one's gender determine ones work?
What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
In Sydney, it might be to buy a house because the market here is so rubbish. As a young woman, I think it might be to love yourself completely and not feel insecure about silly things that are shoved in our face by modern media and standards.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm trying to take more photos of friends to collage with.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
To continue to work on things that I love and get better at them.
Text Tish Weinstock