Caroline Walker has established herself as one of the UK’s most exciting figurative painters of her generation working internationally today. Walker makes paintings that explore ideas of gender in relation to architecture. With a particular interest in femininity, she addresses people’s physical, psychological and emotional relationships with the buildings in which they spend time – whether at home, at work, at leisure or in more mysterious circumstances. By depicting women undertaking all manner of activities, from everyday chores, sleeping and sunbathing to more obscure or dramatic scenarios, she takes the viewer inside people’s private worlds and states of mind. Some of the women depicted seem lonely, bored, tired or depressed, while others appear happy and relaxed, whether alone or in company.
Often it is unclear who the women are, or what their relationship is with the premises in which they are located, raising notions of identity, class and roles acted out at different times in people’s lives. As many of the locations depicted are luxury houses and apartments, it is hard to say if a particular person is the owner or a tenant, a guest or a maid, opening up economic, political, social and cultural questions about the paintings – are we looking at the super rich at leisure, house-sitters, holidaymakers, people under house arrest, domestic workers, squatters, or actors on set? While the paintings are often charming and appealing, there is regularly something odd or unexpected underlying them – occasionally verging on the threatening or dangerous. Sometimes dream homes can be anything but…
The research and development for Walker’s paintings is an elaborate process. Involving numerous life models and actors, she finds properties around the UK and abroad in which to stage photo shoots. Carefully chosen costumes, accessories and props are brought along, and Walker directs her cast around the property. Following this, the artist makes a number of drawings and oil sketches before settling on a composition to work up into a final painting back in her studio. It is a process that clearly helps to generate the cinematic and theatrical atmosphere that pervades her work. Alongside film influences ranging from Hitchcock to Lynch and recent Hollywood productions, Walker is inspired by artists including Eric Fischl, the Scottish colourists and current painting from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as by the constructed photography of Hannah Starkey, Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. Full of contemporary and historical references and influences, Walker’s practice is an engaging journey into the modern female condition and the ‘female gaze’.
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1982, Caroline Walker studied painting at Glasgow School of Art prior to undertaking an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art from which she graduated in 2009 with three prestigious awards and prizes. Within two years of graduating she had staged solo commercial exhibitions in London, Bucharest and New York, and in spring 2013 she showed with ProjectB Gallery, Milan. She has featured in group exhibitions including John Moores 24 at Liverpool Art Gallery; Jerwood Contemporary Painters at the Jerwood Space, London; Some Domestic Incidents: New Painting from Britain at the Prague Biennale 5, and Nightfall: New Tendencies in Figurative Painting at MODEM, Hungary, and the Rudolfinum, Prague. Her work is represented in a number of private and public collections including the Saatchi Collection, the Franks-Suss Collection, the Shetland Islands Council Collection and the Jimenez-Colon Collection, Puerto Rico.
In Every Dream Home – the first monograph of Walker’s work – features around fifty key paintings, oil sketches and ink drawings alongside an introductory text by art historian, critic and curator Marco Livingstone, an essay by independent critic and curator Jane Neal, and an interview with the artist by editor Matt Price.
The publication has been supported by Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, Ealing, Ealing District Council, the Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust, ProjectB Gallery, Milan, and Ivan Gallery, Bucharest.
Texts by Marco Livingstone, Jane Neal and Matt Price
80pp + 4pp covers, Hardback, 190 × 220 mm, c. 50 colour and b/w images
RRP: £20 / €25 / $30
Released: 18 July 2013
Designed by Joe Gilmore, Qubik
Published by Anomie Publishing