As part of my local shopping guide, I would like to introduce you to some of my favourite artists & shops in Graz.
Katcha Bilek is an award winning designer and a fabulously cool person. She has worn many hats and previously lived in an old fire engine in Spain, creating upcycled art installations for festivals as well as furniture and chandeliers. She has long enjoyed transforming unwanted objects into amazing art pieces. Sustainability is at the heart of all her projects – another man’s trash is her treasure!
While living in Bristol, England, Katcha started designing and making stylish punk inspired bags and purses out of old inner tubes (cars, bikes, tractors, wheelbarrows! etc), as well as seatbelts and rubber floor mats. She incorporates traditional Spanish leatherworking patterns that she picked up from her time in Spain. Her bags have appeared on catwalks, in fashion magazines and belong to Brit award stars like David Bowie and Prince!
Katcha continues to design and produce bags here in Graz, as well as her latest venture- her cheeky ‘Dangly Bits’jewelry range. Showcasing her fun sense of humour, these subtle elegant 14-24k gold or sterling silver pieces will have people smiling when they look up close! Her necklaces and earrings can either be seen as a spirtual amulet (throughout history, cultures such as Ancient Rome and contemporary Thai Buddhism have recognised and wielded the protective power of the phallus). Or a fun provocative display of feminism and turning the theme of objectifying women on it’s head! They also come with delightful upcyled charms found or foraged by Katcha.
She is also happy to custom make jewelry on request (with or without penises!)
During lockdown Katcha started a new project, combining her playful approach to design and love of eco fashion. She transforms boring bras into quirky unique masks! 100% of the proceeds from her sales go to the Frauenhäuser Steiermark association, who support women and children dealing with domestic violence. So far she has raised over €1,000!
Katcha is also part of the Daily Rhythms art collection and you may have seen her at their pop up empowerment print bar at events around Graz. She will be working next year on an exciting new art project , themed around Witches. Focusing on the power of the female, their ancient knowledge and positive attributes – not the scary depictions we remember from fairytales! Stay tuned for future events and exhibits!
You see Katcha’s work at Kiwrl and Bohemian Soul Beehive, as well as her Etsy shop. Plus you can follow her on instagram and facebook. You can also read more about her favourite places in Graz in my interview here.