Flourishing arts scene offering creators opportunities

FASHION FORWARD: Artist Kat Pengelly in her new studio at Federation University has undertaken a 12-month artist in residency and is looking forward to working with the Arts Academy's staff and students. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
FASHION FORWARD: Artist Kat Pengelly in her new studio at Federation University has undertaken a 12-month artist in residency and is looking forward to working with the Arts Academy's staff and students. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Artist and fashion designer Kat Pengelly is putting it out there, Ballarat could be the next arts centre of the world.

“As long as I can remember, Ballarat has had a really strong arts and music scene,” she said.

“There is always a lot happening in the different fields from visual arts, performance and live music and it is only getting stronger.”

Ms Pengelly, who grew up in Ballarat, said she always had a love for fashion and art, having taken textiles at school and completing a Bachelor of Arts – Fine Art, majoring in painting, at Federation University Australia.

“My final year folio comprised of a lot of costumes and performance art,” she said. “I feel like my creative expressions collide.” 

Ms Pengelly has never felt the need to move to Melbourne to find opportunities. 

Designer- Kat Pengelly- Fashion for Funerals, ‘Danse Macabre’, Model and Makeup- Eve Ristrome-Gallimore, Hair- La Belladonna, Shoes- Prestonzly, Photo- Louisa West Studio

Designer- Kat Pengelly- Fashion for Funerals, ‘Danse Macabre’, Model and Makeup- Eve Ristrome-Gallimore, Hair- La Belladonna, Shoes- Prestonzly, Photo- Louisa West Studio

“I’m a country girl at heart and I like what Ballarat has to offer in terms of livability and accessibility… and it is more affordable,” she said.

“I’ve been toying with the idea of going to New York to do my thing, but there is the thought that if you are still things come to you.”

Career highlights have included two major fashion concept shows, Feeling the Ceiling, Fashion for Rock Climbers and Fashion for Funerals – Putting the FUN into Funerals, which has attracted interest from Bendigo Cemetery and Bendigo Fashion Festival.

Ms Pengelly hopes to take the show on a regional tour before testing the waters in Melbourne and Sydney, and maybe even New York.

The wearable art creator also has her own label Koshka and has worked with Ballarat Lyric Theatre on its production of Cats.  

“That was the biggest production I have done to date, it was in excess of 80 costumes but there was a team of sewers,” she said.  

“They call it amateur theatre but to see that level of professionalism, what you see from the audience perspective is excellent.”

Federation University has invited Ms Pengelly to undertake a 12-month artist in residency after she collaborated with the Arts Academy staff and students for Fashion For Funerals.

“The uni is trying to liven what is happening here in the Camp Street precinct and activate their spaces,” Ms Pengelly said.

“The aim is to give their students the opportunity to see a practicing professional artist, work together and create work that engages the community.”

A passionate advocate for fair wages for artists and keeping the fashion industry alive in Australia, Ms Pengelly will be holding workshops on sewing, fashion design and the art of business.

She is also working on projects for the Biennale of Australian Art and Melbourne Fashion Festival, and is involved in this weekend’s Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival.