Melbourne artist Carla Fletcher

Carla’s incredible portrait of CW Stoneking, shortlisted for this year’s Archibald Prize

On the 10th of March this year, young Melbourne artist Carla Fletcher received a phone call from the Art Gallery of NSW, informing her that her portrait of Melbourne Blues musician, C.W. Stoneking was a finalist in this years Archibald Prize!!

*insert squeal here!*

How EXCITING!? This is the very first time Carla has entered this most prestigious Australian art prize… it is hugely competitive and and incredible honour to be included – so needless to say the phonecall was very unexpected!

The last couple of months have, not surprisingly, been a bit of whirlwind for Carla – the nervous wait before the official announcement, the excitement of the opening cocktail party in Sydney, endless inquiries, media attention and the odd interview appearance!

I was SO excited to visit Carla recently in her Brunswick studio and hear a little of this rollercoaster-ride first-hand! Aside from her incredible talent and drive, Carla is just the sweetest and most modest person… it is so lovely to see such a brilliant local artist rewarded in this way. As Carla recounted her Archibald stories to me, her eyes truly sparkled in a ‘pinch-me-and-tell-me-this-is-all-not-just-a-dream’ kinda way! Awww. Nope, you’re not dreaming Carla!

(Also, seriously, whilst not entirely relevant, it cannot be overstated how cute Carla’s haircut is. Agghh, the fringe, so cute.)

5 Questions with Carla Fletcher!

Tell us a little bit about your background – what path had led you to where you are now?

Well, I had no idea I wanted to be an Artist.
My parents are great advocates of following your own heart, so I totally blame them ; )

After school I got my folio together and somehow got into a B.A of Fashion Design at RMIT – I don’t sew.

Not sure whether it was an 80′s pop culture short attention span or fate but half way through first year I was bored of sketching garments on figures and more interested in sketching the figures themselves. I left Fashion Design, squeezed in a final year of an Illustration Diploma before doing my B.A in Fine Art at the Drawing department at RMIT.

A few years later, at a time when I was questioning everything, my Father took me to Central Australia and asked me to teach him how to paint. A very empowering thing for a parent to ask their child to teach them.

We sketched, painted and walked through the outback. I came home after that trip more connected to my path as an Artist than I had ever been. Since then I have constantly exhibited in both independent solo and group exhibitions.

Carla’s Brunswick studio

Studio Details

It can be such a struggle for emerging artists to find their feet, get their work seen, and earn a living in between! What advice would you give to emerging artists looking to exhibit and sell their work in Melbourne? Are there any particular artist’s resources or words of advice you have picked up along the way which you can share?

I think each Artist has an individual path that will determine how they get their work out into the world.

In Melbourne and Australia there is an artery of independent galleries, studio spaces, group exhibitions, grants and prizes that are waiting to be tapped into. Check out the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) – a comprehensive place to start exploring the possibilities …

Which other artists, designers or creative people are you inspired by at the moment?

A combination of music, art and design -

Philip Hunter , Del Kathryn Barton, Ilse Crawford, Egon Shiele, Grizzy Bear and Brett Langsford and The Magic Mountain Band ; )

Your portrait of C.W Stoneking was recently shortlisted as a finalist in the 2010 Archibald prize. Aggh so exciting!! Can you give us a little insight into the motivation behind entering this prestigious art prize, and your incredible experience with it all thus far?

The Archibald Prize is an anomaly in our art world that has captured the imagination of the Australian public, I am no exception.

Each year there is a media frenzy to digest the winner and spit out a controversy. The tradition of this prize reaches deep into the great people and artists of our country. The prize itself is somewhat of a celebrity.

I had been introduced to C.W. Stoneking a couple of years ago through a mutual friend and mid way through last year I set myself the challenge. It took a lot of hours over a few months and it was an arm wrestle. It was one of those works that taught me a lot but I released it totally happy with what I had achieved. Upon finishing it did not matter to me whether I got in or not – I expected not to. The fact that I am a finalist this year is extremely validating.

Carla on opening night! And CW Stoneking inspects the work with 2-week old Florence Stoneking in tow…!

What’s next for Carla Fletcher? What are you looking forward to?

I’m currently creating art work for the recent E.P. release ‘Over an Ocean Away’ by Brett Langsford and the Magic Mountain Band. (*Carla’s boyfriend and his band!)

I’m looking forward to exhibiting in a group show in July called ‘The Brunswick Show‘.
It aims to show case the works of 25 artists in Brunswick Melbourne, including 2010 Archibald and Wynne prize winner Sam Leach.

Then I’ll be back in the studio, working on a solo exhibition of new works for mid next year …

Sydney-siders – your last chance to see The Archibald exhibition is this weekend at the Art Gallery of NSW. The show closes Sunday May 30th, and is then set to tour the country for the rest of the year (yet somehow bypasses MELBOURNE!??) – details here.

Coming up for Carla next month is a group show of Brunswick artists called The Brunswick Show – a exhibition which will also feature work by fellow Brunswick artist Sam Leach – the winner of the 2010 Archibald Prize! (Go Brunswick!).

Finised! Carla, exhausted but content after many hours, days, weeks hard at work on her masterpiece!