Caroline Walker (b. 1982, Dunfermline) has established herself as one of the UK’s most exciting figurative painters of her generation working internationally today.
By means of an elegant and seductive yet forthright use of paint, Walker makes paintings that explore ideas of gender in relation to architecture. With a particular interest in femininity, she addresses people’s physical, psychological, emotional, and social 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 playful 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, 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 world 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 colorists, 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’.
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 and curator Matt Price.
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Joe Gilmore is a graphic designer based in Yorkshire, where he runs his design agency, Qubik
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