In a stroke of fate, I have known Charlotte Alldis for a long time. We went to primary and high school together, and crossed paths at uni. I bought a painting of hers two years ago, after seeing her art flourish and evolve via Instagram, and in one of my first weeks at The Design Files, our Managing Editor assigned me to this story.
In a way, my personal connection makes this harder to write. It makes the meaning of the work harder to know, somehow more slippery, as it mixes with my memories. What I do know for sure is that her twisted, freaky ladies are the last thing I see when I go to sleep and the first when I wake up. They hang beside my bed and look down on me like agnostic, artistic angels from their frame, reminiscent of the tangled complexity of the female bond and body. They are a constant source of eerie comfort and two dimensional company.
‘I’m asking for you to join me, to play with me, to laugh with me, to feel a little bit silly,’ the artist explains, and I immediately dismiss the insecurity that I can’t articulate as a clear objective through her work. Because it turns out that’s the point.
Charlotte isn’t just making art, she’s building a world. Her paintings are not about finding linear meanings and movements. Instead, her characters travel across paintings, like recurring dreams that populate a subconscious. They can be unnerving or comforting but most of all they’re a distinguished presence outside her personality. ‘Sometimes it can feel like there is a crowd with me while I paint,’ she laughs, describing the cartoonish, painted forms as facets of her own identity. ‘The characters are extensions of myself, and representations of feeling. Each character is an extension or aspect of my experiences,’ Charlotte explains, which makes her art deeply personal and subjective all at once.
It’s this experience of community that first drew Charlotte to visual art five years ago, and what sustains her evolving practice today. Her work is distinctive for its unexpected colour combinations, naive lines and crowded, impulsive compositions – all of which give credence to a sense of freedom, and uninhibited originality. It’s this flouting of formal art training and intentionality that makes her work so compelling.
Driving Charlotte’s most recent project, Making A Mess, is the shared desire for a space for communal art making. She began this as a public workshop series with two friends, with tickets opening soon for the next quarter. ‘It’s founded on our shared interest in facilitating spaces for people to come together and explore mark-making, constructing and creative expression, all free of judgement,’ Charlotte explains. Letting others in on the therapeutic properties of playful art is her mission. ‘My art is deeply personal, but sharing it perpetuates playfulness and positivity for others.’
For Charlotte, art is about letting go of what you’re supposed to feel or think or like. It’s a rejection of a universal taste, and a turn inwards to listen to our subjectivity. It sounds spiritual and, in a way, it is. This kind of art exists as an anchor to all that feels chaotic and scrambled and overwhelming in the world, to enliven those negativities, and remind you they’re okay.