Arts + Entertainment

Kent Artist Profile: Carlie Curnow

Carlie Curnow is inspired by the world around her, and in Kent there is no end to the wonders of nature that she can use to influence her art. This month, we spoke to Carlie about just why Kent is such an evocative place for artists, and how her art has grown over time.

If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do? 

I have always been inspired by wildlife and enjoy trying to capture the detail and character of animals and birds. Most recently, I have been exploring the juxtaposition between these qualities and a much looser, abstract and urban background. I’ll often start studying an animal or bird either from life, by observing taxidermy or drawing at zoos. These studies have a real sense of life – this much quicker way of working means the process of deciphering the animals’ form, texture and character is evident in the drawing, which I love. After this I will create much more sustained paintings in my studio, usually in oil. I also love creating portraits, which is another aspect of my practice. I’ve worked on this much less of late, but am always delighted when a portrait commission comes in.

How did you become an artist?

I was a completely arty child and would spend every spare moment drawing and painting. I became an art scholar at my school and then earned a place at Kingston University to study BA Illustration. Throughout school, university and beyond I took on commissions including murals, portraits and wildlife imagery.

What is the most unusual, daring, or interesting commission you’ve ever received?

The most daring commissions I’ve ever received have been for murals. My first commission came during my A-level year; to design and create a large mural across three walls in a Medway veterinary centre. This was a huge undertaking and so exciting for me at the very beginning of my career. A later commission came in to create an even bigger mural in a special school, that would support the students learning at their forest school. This was an interactive space with textures, lift flaps and fully three-dimensional elements. It was great to combine my love of wildlife with the opportunity to develop a brilliant learning resource for the school.

What is it about Kent that inspires you?

I absolutely love that Kent, especially around the coast, is such a vibrant place for art and artists. You are never far from seeing the work of new and up-and-coming artists. Kent is a beautiful county where there is a wealth of source material for someone like me, who delights in nature.

Do you have any artist heroes?

So many! I guess if I had to mention just one or two, firstly it would be Connor Harrington. He is an amazing painter who blends a photo realistic style with influences from graffiti and street art. I also love Emily Lamb – she is influenced by the wildlife and people of Africa and her paintings have an amazing intuitive feel; totally stunning.

Where can we see your work?

Hopefully you will see my work in local galleries soon. Until then the best place to see my work is on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/carliecurnowartist

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