Portraiture is the main focus of Carly’s work at present – she uses graphic, charcoal, oils and acrylics to capture what she sees and is inspired by. Based in Crescent Head, Carly’s dream is to set up a gallery/studio in the bush …
Hi Carly. What’s your background?
My childhood was spent on a property on Maria River Road, Crescent Head. We grew a lot of our own vegetables, and my dad had a biodynamic orange orchard. My parents ran the Crescent Head pool, and I grew up swimming nearly every day. I was always involved in sport as a child and always very active. In my down time I liked to draw. It was something I was good at, and it allowed me to drift off and dream.
Growing up watching my dad teach swimming and coaching, it was a natural progression for me to follow in his footsteps. I naturally have a passion for teaching children this “skill for life”. I believe it to be so important.
When did you start to explore art?
From the age of five, if anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “an artist”. From that age I used to draw on anything and everything. If there was a bit of paper, a pencil, a wall, a step, or anything that I could put charcoal or pencil to, I would have a picture on it and be in trouble quite frequently.
One of my proudest school achievements was having my “Poster Design” chosen for display at “On Stage” in the Seymour Theatre in Sydney. After completing Year 12 and gaining pre-selection at Art Express, I was awarded a Scholarship to Griffith University on the Gold Coast to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Fine Art. This was a dream come true.
During the three years when studying my degree, I entered a number of art competitions and also had a number of private exhibitions of my work. Once completing my degree, I moved home to Crescent Head and began working full-time as a school learning support officer and as a swimming teacher and coach. At this time in my life, my art took a back seat. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I found myself at home a lot more and really feeling like it was time to start creating again. I felt compelled to capture my daughter’s moods, emotions and spirit through sketches and photographs. To this day, she is still my main subject.
People and the emotions they show during a particular moment in time appear to inspire your art practice. How do you translate what you see into an artwork?
I am influenced by what is around me, whether it be colours, imagery or other artists’ works and their processes. Many works start with a photograph or a sketch, and from there it is all very intuitive. I suppose, when you have created for a long time, something extra kicks in when you don’t really have a plan, but every decision takes you on a journey and that might reflect how I’m feeling that day or what I’m trying to convey through the image. I find this the most exciting part of the process. My subject is often myself as a self-portrait or portraits of my daughter. My work is predominantly portraiture at this stage.
What mediums do most like to work with?
Graphite, charcoal, oils and acrylics are what I most like to work with. I am interested in the relationship between these mediums and how they work together. It also gives me more options, so I can draw and paint in the one work. Even today, when planning my work, I draw in the fog on the shower screen, in sand or in dirt if that’s what is available. I am always practising my craft, and it really is a compulsion.
What exhibitions have you been involved with?
Most recently I have been involved in the Northern Exposure exhibition at the Glasshouse. I have held a solo exhibition in 2016 in the Nexus Gallery, Bellingen and a solo exhibition in 2015 in the Macleay Valley Community Art Gallery, Gladstone. I have also received a Highly Commended in the drawing section in the Bellingen Art Prize and 1st Prize in the drawing section at Adelaide Swift Memorial Art Exhibition. My works were accepted into Camberwell Art show Melbourne in 2016 and Hunters Hill Art Exhibition in Sydney 2016.
Bottom line, simple (yet complex) question. Why do you create art?
I create art because I feel compelled to do so. It is as imperative as sleeping or eating. I feel it is my therapy. I lose myself. I immerse myself. I feel most comfortable there. My partner really notices when I have been in the “zone”. I’m a bit of a zombie during these times – on auto pilot. It can take hours and sometimes days to switch back into normal day to day life. I love it!
Where do you see your art practice evolving over the next few years?
Ultimately, I would love to be an artist full-time making a living from my art. My dream is to set up a gallery/studio in the bush where I live on Maria River Road. My youngest child has started school this year, and I have plans to hold some exhibitions locally. In the coming years I would like to branch out and have my works seen more broadly. Coming up, I am having a retrospective art sale starting on Saturday 17th March at Aimee Lee Designs, South West Rocks. This will showcase works past and present and will be a great opportunity to see some of my works in a wonderful space.
In April, my family and I are embarking on a road trip to Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberleys.This will be the focus of my next body of work. I have works that I would like to sell, as this will free up some space to create a new series of works inspired by our adventure.
Where can we see more of your work?
I encourage art lovers to visit my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/carlymarchmentartist or find me on Instagram: #carlyinart. My work is also hanging at Masterpiece framers and Gallery Port Macquarie, Old Lodge Gallery Gladstone and in Aimee Lee Design South West Rocks.
Thanks Carly. Interview by Jo Robinson.