Artist working in River Studios

About Shae

Shae Rooke is an emerging photographer and video artist. She makes her art from the little things, finding the unexpected in the everyday world. Sometimes her camera tricks you into seeing a fantastical cosmos when you’re looking into a dirty puddle on the road, sometimes she simply picks out unusual details like a curled leaf hiding in plain sight.

A lifetime of living between rural and urban locations has inspired Shae to create artwork that melds natural and built environments, exploring these landscapes and her relationships to them. She uses distortions of scale, placement and comparisons to create an alternate view of the world, an imaginative, playful, yet critical perspective.

Shae graduated with a Master of Fine Art from RMIT University, Melbourne in 2012. She has exhibited in solo and group shows and artist residencies in both Australia and across the seas. Recent projects include solo exhibition and residency MicroCosmic CBD at Testing Grounds; ACES for Meet the Public festival of participatory art at BLINDSIDE and Dirt Mountain for The Substation Contemporary Art Prize Exhibition. She has worked on a number of collaborative and curatorial projects as Co-Founder of experimental arts collective In The Meantime and Public Art Co-ordinator for popup Footscray arts space Colour Box Studio.

How do you use your space?

I have my space set up in a flexible way so I can easily switch between tasks. I have a corner area where I can create controlled lighting for shooting video and photography. I’ve also got a massive table for cutting photos and big sheets of butchers paper for mind-mapping ideas. I have a desk for computer tasks such as writing proposals, blogging, editing photos and video and researching. My favourite thing about having a studio is the wall space - I always have millions of tiny photos and notes on the walls which I’m constantly moving around and reorganising as my ideas develop and change. I never keep finished artwork on display in my studio, it’s a work in progress kind of space, finished artwork is for the gallery! I also have a small pillowed ‘comfy nook’ to sit in and think and refocus.

My current studio activities are editing footage taken from a recent artists residency at Cowwarr Art Space in Gippsland, Victoria. They have the most beautiful historic gardens set in amongst the local bush and farmland which drew me there. For the residency I took with me a small 3D hologram picture of a tree found in a $2 shop and placed it on a rotating pedestal. I’d hit record on the camera then leap into the bushes to hide whilst spinning the 3D hologram tree picture before the camera. The project is a cheeky play on the picturesque and a homage to kitsch objects. The 3D hologram tree picture spinning in the garden creates this absurd quiet marvel within the landscape. Now that I have all the footage, the next stage of this project is creating a video installation for a solo exhibition in early 2016. I’ll be using my studio to edit footage, develop a soundscape with a sound designer and construct projection screens.  


What appealed to you most about your studio space when you first saw it?

I like that I’ve got plenty of room to work in and keep my collections of things in and there’s lots of natural light. I also like the shipping containers in the block next door, they always remind me of giant Lego blocks and also my Dad telling me crazy stories about the shenanigans he and his mates got up to running around the docks in Freo where he grew up.


How have you made this space your own?

The first thing I did when I moved in was pull out all my weird objects that I collect for art-making and arrange them around the room. I’ve got stuff like sequined letters of the alphabet, polystyrene, fake fruit and deflating balloon animals. I’ve also covered one of the walls with tiny photographs taken on walks around Footscray of little details like the back of street signs or shapes of trees that I like. I never keep finished artwork on display in my studio, it’s a work in progress kind of space that’s messy and chaotic.