Australian artist Caitlin Reilly was recently featured in a personal piece in Paradiso Magazine, an Australian publication based in the Byron Shire of New South Wales and distributed online and in select stores throughout Australia. The focus of the article was Caitlin’s home and method as an artist, but it touched closely on Caitlin herself, with a subtly intimate tone, a private insight into the Artist and her life. Paradiso’s Monique Barton was rapt, packing the article with a soft, cosy sensation, immersing the reader in the feelings that she herself must have felt. She spoke to Caitlin about her process, giving us a vision of a quietly radical take on art.
Caitlin’s approach is simply to take her context and base her medium on what is around her and what she has within reach. At odds with the image of a professional artist, with expensive medium’s disregarded in favour of what is accessible, Caitlin’s art has an appropriately roughhewn feel, frequently painting on reclaimed timber, and using dust, bitumen, and debris to complement oil paints, and often painting in roughly textured paint that looks almost still wet. Her style and medium compliment the subject matter eloquently, adding to the tone of her works the right emotion for a given painting. There is more to her art than just the image, her choices in method and medium are almost an artwork in themselves.
Born in the Southern Highlands, Caitlin is a multi-disciplinary artist currently living in Byron Bay Australia. Based in Shanghai China from 2009, Caitlin returned to Australia in 2014. She holds a Bachelor in Visual Art from Southern Cross University Australia, and she works in a broad range of media to create layered and textural history. She has built up and extensive body of work exploring surface rendering, and her work spans various international platforms and is featured in collections throughout Australia, China, Europe, and America. A focal point of her work is collaboration and experimentation. She has experience working in textiles and textile production and uses this in her art to complement her methods.
For her placement as a Finalist in the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, Caitlin entered a portrait of Ruth Ryan, President of the Bangalow CWA and Founder of the Barebones Gallery in Bangalow, where Caitlin exhibited her works Naïve Muzzled Shetlands in 2005 while half way through her Bachelor of Visual Arts at SCU. Ruth was kind enough to allow Caitlin to exhibit her work there, and evidently Caitlin is grateful to this day for her friend’s help. In writing this article I have have spent a great deal of time staring at this portrait, and a part of me feels as though I have met Ruth through this, the painting conveys a certain tone, the softness of the brush strokes and the gentle shades of grey and pink, the slight cheeky smile and the smooth wrinkled face, evoke a personality and give a strong sense of authenticity that’s hard to put into words. I can almost imagine just from this work what Ruth must be like.
In her notes for the piece Caitlin describes how she met Ruth and mentions some of their history. Firm friends, Caitlin visited Ruth whenever she was in the area. Caitlin states on her website “In painting Ruth, it felt like she was painting herself. There were imaginary conversations in which her voice and laughter were as clear as a bell in my head.” This quote drives home the nature of this painting. It is a deeply intimate understanding of a person, something that by viewing we can garner a small piece of, but something that is ultimately still known only to Ruth and Caitlin. It carries the feeling of knowing someone that we cannot know, that only the artist can know, but the artist allows a brief glimpse of that friendship. It is a wonderful demonstration of the potential art has to move us and share a piece of the artist.
We here at Blue Pie wish her the best of luck in the Black Swan Prize, her work is certainly deserving of the win. For more information about Caitlin, her work, and current and future exhibitions please visit her website linked below. The Black Swan Prize site and the Paradiso’s website where you can find their latest edition for free are also linked below.