Marle Woman: Caroline Walls

Using art as a form of personal expression, Australian artist Caroline Walls creates a visual language that challenges the traditional female nude and speaks more directly of the female experience. Offering an alternative and progressive representation of womanhood and identity, she draws on her personal experiences to inform her heroic yet streamlined silhouettes that proliferate across a number of mediums.

Here, Caroline shares more about her creative evolution, how her complex and beautiful experience of becoming a mother informed her growth as an artist, and how her Marle pieces evoke a sense of comfort and nostalgia for the simple pleasures.
 
Please share a little bit about yourself - including your background, where you were raised, noting some of the defining aspects that have contributed to the woman you are today.

I was born in Auckland, NZ before moving to Sydney when I was 5, from there my family and I moved to Melbourne just before I started high school. This moving around in my younger years evoked a passion and yearning for seeking out new experiences and offered up the idea that I could find a sense of home wherever I travelled. With this in mind during my 20’s I lived between London and New York for quite a number of years, expanding my understanding and opening my eyes to the wider world. Now that I have established a home and built a life here in Melbourne with my wife and daughters I still draw on the experiences and ‘past lives’ I had in the other cities I have previously lived in. Ultimately moving around and traveling generally has given me a real open-mindedness, which in turn has allowed me to find and nurture a really strong sense of self which I otherwise might not have had if I’d always lived in the one place.

Your work explores themes of womanhood, sexuality, and the construction and complexity of the female identity - can you share a little more about these themes and how you use them to communicate a feeling or an idea?

Themes surrounding womanhood and the beauty and power of the female form weave their way through all of the works that I create. I tend to explore themes that have touched me personally as a woman, such as fertility, motherhood, sexuality, intimacy, desire and the need for emotional connection.

My pieces favour abstraction, yet subtly allude to figuration. Curving, border-less forms draw the eye out of the bounds of the frame, with fluid lines and undulating, bodily forms gently rising and falling within the canvas. I tend to use my signature colour palette of soft neutral tones and a contrasting inky midnight blue to create works with a heroic, streamlined silhouette. 

Since becoming a mother to two little girls, have you felt a shift in your approach to creation? If so, in what ways?

My experience with pregnancy, birth and postpartum has connected me with my body and sense of self in profound and really complex, beautiful ways - and certainly these experiences have informed the figures and forms I create within my artworks. The art I’ve created since becoming a mother to my daughters has focused on depicting the varied experiences of motherhood - whether it be the joy, hope or fear that rises to the surface as I navigate caring for them whilst also growing and developing as a woman and artist.

The female forms in your artworks loom between figuration and abstraction, softness and strength. What does your creative process look and feel like?

I work fairly intuitively and on a number of pieces at any given moment. I tend to spend a period of time developing and exploring compositional options, creating rough sketches and mapping out the tones I’d like to use before beginning a new series over a three to six month period. In this sense, I much prefer to work on a collection of works together to form a broader narrative rather than just one isolated painting at a time.

Once I have refined the forms and composition of a collection as sketches on paper I then move to putting paint brush to canvas. I always leave room for movement if I feel like the forms needs reworking once scaled-up – most of my works are painted on large-scale canvases. 

The process of reduction plays an essential part in the creation of my works, subtracting detail and simplifying forms to create highly abstracted yet hopefully gestural artworks that, although streamlined, still achieve a sense of expression and vitality. It is as much about the lines that I choose to paint as it is about the lines and curves I choose to leave out.

"For me, wearing Marle inspires a real sense of comfort and nostalgia for the simple pleasures - slow and lazy days, picnics with friends, Sundays in the sunshine. The timeless silhouettes and the beautiful fabrication of each piece makes me feel elevated in a really effortless way which is so important to me as a mother and small business owner with less time on my hands to put myself together for the day ahead than I use to" 
How would you describe your personal style - how has this evolved over the years?

My style is understated, streamlined and uncomplicated . The pieces I am drawn tend to have oversized, modern silhouettes with dresses being the main type of piece that I tend to wear day to day. Over the years I've moved away from trends and bold colours and am instead drawn to quality pieces in natural fabrics and fibres such as linen and cotton with tones of black and neutrals being my absolute go-to’s.

How do your Marle pieces make you feel? Do they inspire a feeling, time, or memory?

For me, wearing Marle inspires a real sense of comfort and nostalgia for the simple pleasures - slow and lazy days, picnics with friends, Sundays in the sunshine. The timeless silhouettes and the beautiful fabrication of each piece makes me feel elevated in a really effortless way which is so important to me as a mother and small business owner with less time on my hands to put myself together for the day ahead than I use to. 

In what ways do you hope to develop as an artist? Are there any artistic mediums that you would like to incorporate into your future projects that you haven’t already?

As an artist I am always looking at ways to expand my thinking around both my processes and the themes I explore through my art. With this in mind my next exhibition will feature a collection of my oil paintings, a medium I haven’t actively used for a number of years, but am looking forward to reengaging with. The texture and possibilities of oil painting will allow me to build up the imagery I wish to create with a different kind of depth and texture and that's incredibly exciting for me to bring to life. This new collection of artworks will also come together in the form of a self-published book which will act as a keep-sake or a little time-capsule of the personal experiences I’ve had and felt as a woman-mother-artist over the last few years.

Quickfire Questions
Texture or colour?

Texture for its ability to add depth and character.

Summer or winter?

Summer for those long, warm evenings.

Most treasured accessory?

My engagement ring - made with gemstones from my mother and grandmother.

Currently reading…

Ninth Street Women

Currently listening to…

Sharon von Etten

 

Caroline wears the Margarita Dress, Ivy Dress and Mia Dress