Artist Caroline Walls’ Beautifully Minimal Home Is a Canvas for Her Feminine Works
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour the new home of celebrated contemporary artist Caroline Walls in Melbourne's Northcote.
Renowned for her minimalistic renderings of the female form, Caroline Walls has carved her name as one of Australia's most prominent and revered contemporary artists. Her recognition represents the movement toward a more gender-inclusive art world, and her works help foster female empowerment.
After completing an Honours degree in Visual Communication, Caroline worked for a number of years in fashion art direction and design at lifestyle brand agencies in New York and London. She later returned to Australia where she completed postgraduate studies in Visual Arts before continuing her practice from her studio in Melbourne. She has presented eight solo exhibitions, 13 group exhibitions, and had her art adorns an array of stylish homes, cafes, and retail stores.
Now, in an exciting collaboration, Caroline has created two evocative artworks exclusively for Bed Threads. These minimalistic works explore themes surrounding womanhood and the beauty and power of the female form. 'Memories of Her' features abstract, amorphous shapes awash in complementary sandy tones, and 'Your Way Now' illustrates an expansive form that rises and fills the frame, recalling the charged momentum of a cresting wave.
Caroline's portrayals of the feminine form are intimate and carefully observed. "I tend to explore ideas, experiences, and feelings that have touched me personally as a woman, such as fertility, motherhood, sexuality, intimacy, desire, and the need for emotional connection," she tells Bed Threads Journal.
In the same vein as her artworks and former Victorian terrace, Caroline's affinity for muted, earthy tones permeates the interior of her new home in Melbourne which she shares with wife Emma Hill and their two daughters. The calming abode is restrained in its palette and styling choices, functioning as a warm sanctuary for the young family and a place for Caroline to create. "I’ve looked to find a balance so that I can still enjoy a space that highlights my love of art and muted, neutral tones," she says.
Texture, shapes, and a layered composition of tones play a key role in the success of this home's aesthetic which would otherwise be lacklustre with such little variance in colour. The incorporation of a sisal rug, rattan chairs, and ceramics in the open-plan living/dining room inject the space with warmth and visual interest, while handsome Charcoal linen in the bedroom ties in elegantly with the bold, dark accents seen throughout the home's décor and her charcoal drawings.
Caroline's love for art is showcased throughout the abode with a carefully curated selection of works in the form of sculptures, paintings, and turned-timber pieces. The overall look is inviting and tasteful with a calming ambience that's ideal for an artist to work in.
Ahead, the artist shares the inspiration behind her empowering new works, how she balances life as a full-time artist with motherhood, and the thought process behind how she's styled her home.
Explore the Caroline Walls x Bed Threads print collection here.
Hi Caroline! Welcome back to The Makers. What have you been making since last time we caught up with you?
This last year, despite the strange world we’ve been experiencing, I’ve continued to paint, draw, and expand my practice through sculpture. I’ve had a couple of solo exhibitions that I’ve presented online and my wife and I have welcomed another daughter to our family so I’ve been keeping very busy!
We are so excited to be launching our exclusive print collaboration with you! Can you talk us through the inspiration behind these two works?
Themes surrounding womanhood and the beauty and power of the female form weave their way through all of the works that I create and these two works are an example of this exploration. I tend to explore ideas, experiences, and feelings that have touched me personally as a woman, such as fertility, motherhood, sexuality, intimacy, desire, and the need for emotional connection.
The female form is the central subject of your art. What inspires you to create in this style?
My pieces favour abstraction, yet subtly allude to figuration. I hope to create curving, border-less forms that 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 subtle, streamlined silhouette.
Explore the Caroline Walls x Bed Threads print collection here.
What has been the highlight of your career as an artist?
Without hesitation the highlight has been the opportunity to reach a wide and wonderful audience of art-lovers both here in Australia and all over the world. I am continually humbled by people’s response and interest in my work for their homes and spaces, and it’s incredible to see my art find a new home far and wide.
How has your art practice changed over time?
When I first began to delve into art-making, my works were quite overt in their figurative nature and I was more likely to use different colour palettes. But over time I have really refined my love of reductive forms and calming compositions while using muted, earthy tones. As I continue to grow and experience new things I imagine my practice will continue to expand and unfold in new ways and that’s really exciting to think about.
How do you balance your time in the studio with other commitments?
There is a constant push and pull between striking the perfect balance between studio time and motherhood. Time management and working as productively as possible in the time that I do have in the studio has been critical in allowing me to be both a mother and a full-time artist. It isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always go to plan but I also have my wonderful wife to parent alongside.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in this home and what inspired you to move from your old place?
We have lived in our new home for nine months now, a change that we made as our family was growing from three to four and we needed more room for both the family and my art-making.
We are in the neighbouring suburb that has a really vibrant community and we couldn’t be happier with our decision to take the plunge.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
Just like they say, when I entered this space for the first time I had a gut reaction that this would make the perfect home for us. It still needs a lot of love but I was completely taken by the beautiful light it already has and the larger, open rooms (which don’t always go hand in hand with unrenovated double storey terraces which can feel quite dark and enclosed). We are lucky to have a lot of lovely original windows throughout the house that welcome the light in throughout the day.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
I have yet to make any big changes, but I am dreaming up plans for a renovation which will see us create a new kitchen, bathroom, and living area that opens up the back of the house. We are a few years off doing this, but I am always on the look-out for inspiration and have started many mood boards that have the aesthetic details and warm, open feel we are looking to create for our family home.
Recreate Caroline's look with our Oatmeal napkins.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
The way we’ve styled our home is in part looking to stay true to my aesthetic style and in part due to practicality as we have a four month old and a two year-old that runs riot through the house. Our home needs to function as a warm, safe family home for our daughters, but I’ve looked to find a balance so that I can still enjoy a space that highlights my love of art and muted, neutral tones.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
I love my ceramic and turned-timber collection. These pieces are placed throughout our home in various places, above fireplaces, layered on shelves and so on. I continue to grow my collection that includes pieces made by local makers and serendipitous charity shop finds.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m on the look-out for the perfect woven and timber bench seat to sit at the foot of our bed which I’ll use to home some of my fine art books. Our bedroom is quite roomy so I think this will be the perfect addition.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
It’s hard to say as all the rooms bring me a lot of happiness for different reasons, but I really do love my new studio which has views across the inner north of Melbourne, through to the city skyline which has this expansive and open feel to it. This really inspires me so much when I am creating and the ever-changing view throughout the day is really beautiful. I love to watch the last of the days sunshine when the sky is warm and glowing and the city lights start to twinkle.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
For me I think the very best styling tip is to fill your bedroom and home with things you absolutely love and that tell a little of your own personal history and story. The ceramics, books, and art I have in my home I’ve collected over the years during travels, life changes, and various adventures I’ve had. Aside from the joy and memories these elements in our home provide me everyday it also allows our home to feel uniquely our own and not like a generic showroom space.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I’m in the research stage of a new collection of paintings exploring the various states of motherhood - the tenderness, the tension. Through my highly reductive process I’m looking to create a visual language that challenges the traditional view of motherhood and speak more directly to the actual lived experience, hoping to offer an alternative and progressive representation of womanhood and identity. The collection will come together as an exhibition and self-published book. I’m looking forward to sharing more on this in 2022.