SPOTLIGHT ON: CAROLINE MCINTYRE.
I am fortunate to own three pieces from Caroline McIntyre. Two artworks I purchased and one was a gift from the artist herself. Caroline's use of colour and her unusual yet striking technique mesmerises me. Caroline and I are also friends; we bond over art exhibitions, a love of wine and mutual respect of each other's work.
Let’s get personal. Tell us about your life.
I was born in the North of France in 1971. I studied Design & Illustration at Saint-Luc School of Arts in Liège Belgium (École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc de Liège) from 1990 to 1993.
I worked as a professional Graphic Designer for 8 years in Belgium and Paris until I obtained a sponsorship visa to work in Sydney in 1999 where I have been living ever since. I am married with two children and I currently live in Loftus in Sydney’s South with my family.
How do you describe your style of art?
I suppose I can be categorised as a hard edge painter: I paint using geometric forms and abrupt transitions of colour areas.
That is if you read the definition of “hard edge painting” but I suppose there are many more layers to this description. What is important to me, first, is colour, as it is what I remember from the landscape around me. I see the yellow and the blue grey of a wattle tree and I want to paint this. Painting the tree itself doesn’t interest me as much as playing with these two colours. I guess having a graphic design background, I have also a tendency to simplify. I would like to quote Hans Hofmann (1880–1966) who is one of the most important figures of postwar American art.
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
How did you develop your technique and style?
It takes time to find yourself as an artist. Nothing is forever certain as it is a constant exploration. But I believe it is very important to be true to your own nature as this is what makes you unique. Painting requires a lot of introspection as you create your own rules. Sometimes it is very difficult to have that freedom as you need to ask yourself many questions, but I guess this is the only way to discover oneself that’s why I had a very pragmatic approach at the beginning.
I knew I wanted to play with layers of colours and use fluid acrylic paint as a medium. I wasn’t interested in painting “en plein air” and copy the landscape but wanted to create more a painting process that would give me the freedom to experiment and explore. I love not knowing what is going to happen next and abstraction is the only art form that allows this. The geometric forms came naturally in my process.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have always been drawn to the landscape. Nature is everything to me. I am lucky enough to live close to the Royal National Park where the Australian bush and its fauna have always been a constant source of inspiration since I have moved to Sydney almost twenty ago. But it took me a long stay back in France in 2010 to finally realise colours were what I remembered from Australia: the deep cobalt blue of the sky, the bright red orange of a king parrot, the yellow of the wattle tree in my garden. I guess when you have been away from a place, you see the world around you with a different eye…
Do you have a mentor or someone who you admire or look up to?
I don’t really have a mentor, but I have many artists friends who are always happy to guide or help me. I find it is very important to be part of a community as we have all experienced similar challenges and self-doubts not only in our artistic life but also in our personal life. Finding the balance between work, motherhood and art aspirations can be difficult sometimes. I really admire these women who seem to make it work.
You recently were involved in working with some emerging artists and curating an exhibition at the Hazelhurst Art Gallery. Tell us about it.
The opportunity came to me to organise “Friends on Show” at the beginning of the year attending a meeting for a non-profit organisation called “Friends of Hazelhurst”. This annual exhibition gives the opportunity for friends members to exhibit their works in the Broadhurst Gallery. This year, we have received 170 artworks and exhibited 100 artists. I believe it has been one of the most successful exhibitions with more than 250 guests attending the opening alone. Many works have also been sold and the diversity of works exhibited were outstanding.
We were also lucky enough to have Kon Gouriotis, editor of Artist Profile magazine as our guest speaker. He mentioned that art societies like “Friends of Hazelhurst” built our cultural infrastructure and are one of the reasons why Hazelhurst Art Gallery exists in many ways. Next year we will celebrate Hazelhurst’s 20th Anniversary.
Why was it important to you create an exhibition like “Friends on Show”?
First of all, I wanted to be involved in a local art community and be able to promote the talented artists living in the South Sydney Region. Then it was also a personal challenge as I have never organised an exhibition that scale before. Through the process I have also learned a lot about myself as an organiser and team leader. But the most rewarding moment was feeling this sense of community and seeing the artists proud to show their artwork to the public. Some of them have many years of experience while others were exhibiting for the first time. I am very glad to be part of this fabulous event.
Do you have any tips when buying a piece of art?
Buying a piece of art is very personal. I would say don’t follow the trends but follow your heart. It doesn’t matter if it is an abstract or figurative painting as long as you find a connection with the art.
It is a bit like love, never rush to find it but when you do, you know.
I would say visit your regional and commercial galleries, go to Art Trails and Art Fairs and meet the artists if you can. It is great to have a story behind the artwork you choose. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with an artist you like on social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Websites like Blue Thumb are also worth checking out.
I actually bought a drawing last weekend myself and I didn’t plan it at all. I just saw it during an Art Trail in St Peters visiting the studio of an artist friend. I was hesitating between two and I asked the artist which one he enjoyed drawing the most and I chose that one, of course.
What exciting things do you have in the horizon?
Painting, painting and more painting time! Although it was great organising the exhibition it also took me away from my own practice so I can’t wait to spend time creating again.
There is nothing confirmed yet, but I am in the process of collaborating with an artist that I would really love to exhibit with. Our techniques are different but we both work with colours; she is more organic, and I am more geometric.