You might best know Kate Bellm’s sexy/dreamy lens work by way of brands like Gucci and adidas, or mags like Playboy, Interview and 032c. Or you might just live vicariously through her instagram adventures, which feel like they take place on some kind of sun-drenched astral plane where the only things people know how to do is wear cool textiles and show their butts. Zero complaints btw.
After over a decade of capturing her own free-loving paradise, it makes sense that Kate has compiled all of her best work into a book — her debut publication, AMOR. And, this week in Sydney, Kate is showing a selection of her magic (plus some unreleased bits!) at China Heights, along side a book signing.
As we flick through her work — which spans underwater energy, celestial mistakes, young bodies, staunch femininity, and the occasional kickflip — we thought it was high time we introduced you to her.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in England and now I live in Deia, Mallorca Spain.
What were you interested in as a kid?
Prank calling, gymnastics, boys.
Which parts of your upbringing do you think might have been the gateways leading you to art?
I hated school, but we had a darkroom and I swear I would spend any moment I could hiding out in there listening to the radio and developing rolls of film. Also, all my best friends and their personal styles have had a profound impact on the look of my photos.
Do you remember the first time you realised you wanted to follow your dreams?
I knew from around 12 that all I wanted to do was take photos and create worlds… photography has been my obsession ever since.
Which colour do you gravitate toward the most?
What does making art do for you? What sorts of life stuff has it helped you conquer?
I would say everything… it helps me breathe. I have conquered my fear of flying, anxiety, and working through sickness for making photos happen. It connects you to people for a lifetime. Taking photos gets me high.
How do you hope people feel when they see your work?
Inspire them to travel and break their fears.
Can you tell me specifically about you upcoming exhibition at China Heights? How long were you working on this body of work? And what new and old ideas do you explore?
This is a collection of work, new and old, spanning 10 years. I took a road trip through Portugal with my favourite girls, with a suitcase of tiny swimwear and vintage platform boots, and created a new unseen body of work that will feature at China Heights along with some underwater classics and psychedelic landscapes.
What’s the best work you’ve ever made?
My new book AMOR. It’s exactly how I dreamed it.
In relation to your career, what scares you most?
That it all becomes too modern.
Best piece of advice you ever received?
At age 12, photographer David Montgomery told me: “Don’t tell people you wanna be a photographer, just tell them you are.” And ever since, I was.
And the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
Leave your ego at the door.
AMOR opens Friday November 15, 6-9pm at China Heights.
Images: Kate Bellm