Monday, 12 July 2010

Artist of the Week - Caroline McCready

Caroline McCready is a painter and sculptor producing abstract works. She will be exhibiting her oil paintings at the Palace Art Fair in October.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?

I read History of Art at the University of Warwick, graduating in 2001 and went on to study life drawing and cast drawing for a year at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney in 2004. Most recently, in 2008, I completed a Figurative Sculpture diploma at Heatherley School of Fine Art. My History of Art degree offered me a great deal of knowledge about art and opened my mind to many different ways of thinking about art. The year I spent purely drawing in Sydney taught me to really look and see what is in front of me and translate it onto paper. Studying figurative sculpture at Heatherley gave me the technical skills and knowledge needed to sculpt in clay, cast and carve in wood and stone. I don’t feel as though I wish I had learnt anything differently, because I chose an education, full of traditional and technical knowledge, that I feel gives me the tools to express myself freely.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I don’t remember a time before loving making art. I recently found an old photograph of myself crawling, before I could walk, clutching a colourfully scribbled piece of paper. I think it’s always been part of me.

One favourite living artist?
Yayoi Kusama. Her work is so fun, surreal, magical and psychedelically colourful that to experience her work is to enter a world of genuine escapism. I saw her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and left feeling uplifted and nourished, which was a welcome change as I feel somewhat empty after viewing so much work that relies on shock value or gimmick. In contrast Kusama’s work seems to overflow with light-hearted sincerity.

One favourite historical artist?
Michaelangelo. I find his work utterly awe-inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than his unfinished marble figures in The Academia in Florence. They are male nudes, carved in marble, which he had to abandon due to faults in the stone. They are so skillful, that you can imagine that they were already fully formed in the stone and that he merely tapped the marble and it fell away revealing this perfect form.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
What inspires me the most is the intangible nature of motion and the passage of time. I am fascinated by the idea of creating a perception of movement, and a sense of something in motion, like a billow of smoke or leaves swept up by a gust of wind, in a static form. When I was at Heatherley I was captivated by the curled wood shavings produced by the process of wood carving. I collected everyone’s wood shavings and created large, sweeping, intertwining structures, with a sense of chaos, sweeping movement and continual motion. I liked the fact that the structures were so ephemeral that it looked as though a gust of wind had picked up the wood shavings and any minute may disappear leaving a pile of wood shavings on the floor. My oil paintings are a progression from these wood shaving sculptures, depicting the architecture of the forms, and trying again to capture a sense of motion in a static form. I experiment with how colour relates to and changes the perception of the forms, taking inspiration from all sorts of things that I come across, particularly colours in natural landscapes and elements of nature, such as wood, bark, plants, flowers, ice and sunlit water.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had.
One of the most interesting jobs I’ve had was waitressing in a cocktail bar in Mayfair. It was eye-opening watching customers consuming literally thousands of pounds worth of champagne and being miserable whilst doing so. It was a true reinforcement that money often doesn’t equal happiness.

Do you work mostly on your own? Have you had any interesting work related collaborations?
I work on my own, which I enjoy, but I would be interested in working in collaboration in the future.

At age 18 who most influenced your style?
Jenny Saville. Her work is so honest and beautiful and I think that the way in which she uses oil paint to depict flesh is truly brilliant.

How much do you bend your 'vision' to suit the marketplace - if at all?
I love what I am making at the moment and I don’t think that it is tailored specifically for the marketplace. Part of my motivation for painting is creating things that people enjoy. I want to make things that are absorbing and that people can get lost in, offering escapism.

Who would you say buys your work?
I would describe myself as an emerging artist, but so far it has been very ordinary people who take pleasure in what I make.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is in a loft in Oxford. It’s very quiet and it’s easy to get lost in what I do.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
Although I think I have a good balance at the moment, it’s too easy sometimes to become completely absorbed in what I do and forget about everything else.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

If you could be doing anything else what would it be?
I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing at the moment.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?
In my wildest dreams probably the Tate Modern in London.

Please list any exhibitions you have had in the past 12 months.
Solo Exhibition, White Revolver, Sydney, Australia

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