EVOCATIVE ART THAT IS ‘WELL AND HAPPY AND FREE FROM FEAR’
When creating things of beauty and emotion, there is no substitute for a wealth of life experience. Someone who has that in boatloads is Caroline Hands, who has worked for decades across a range of mediums, ensuring her work expresses joy across the globe. – by Stephen Penn
True art knows no bounds, and that is also true for the skill of Caroline Hands. Not satisfied with covering just a single medium, in her lengthy career Caroline has not only touched on, but also mastered a wide-range of skills and techniques from her travels across the globe.
A creative soul from a young age, she spent nearly every Sunday in the British Museum with her father, and immersing herself in the vibrant colours and different cultures such as Africa, China and Asia set her off on a lifelong journey of self-discovery and understanding humanity.
“I was very lucky that my father took me to the British museum nearly every Sunday as a child,” Caroline says. “I just always related to the different imagery, as the BM it is all about humanity and it’s diversity of different religions.”
After attending Art College in the 1960s, she opened her eyes to the wider world of creation, mixing mediums such as painting, theatre design, photography, sculpture and even crafting copper foil wigs to evoke her unique perspective on the world.
Her diverse range of works and styles has in the past made gallerists nervous, but it has strong assets of constant in it, such as vibrant colour, positive emotions and a kinetic energy.
“Life is moving all of the time and everything is changing, so the important thing for me is that my work has breath,” she explains. “I want there to be space and vulnerability, I want people to look and go on their own journey. It’s not about the words, it’s about deciphering and experiencing how my work touches people on their own.
Never one to stand still – even early in her career – Caroline not only built up a stellar reputation in the UK, but also travelled across Asia, quickly immersing herself in the culture, through living with farmers in China, whilst drinking in the landscape and culture. She embraced all that Asia had to offer and this had the most significant influence on her work, which led to showcasing her work in a solo Beijing exhibition – one of the biggest of her career.
“Travel is the best education and my colour palette has often been much more Asian influenced,” she says. “The first time I went to Asia, I was walking in the Himalayas and saw some Tibetans walking towards me, the colours they were wearing resonated deep in my soul. I felt like I knew them.”
She also finds that the Asian audience and curators have resonated most with her work, ‘getting her completely’. “They saw my work, a wide range, including work done in China, nature paintings from near my then rural home in the Midlands UK, and even some abstract work. They just got it.” she explains. “They put the work together in such an eye-catching way that I could tell they just understood my process and weren’t scared off by my non-traditional approach or singular style.”
Now, decades after she first picked up a paintbrush, Caroline is based in London and maintains the passion and fire she has always had for creating art, showing heart in her emotive, vibrant and kinetic work.
After a lengthy career, she has also become an inspiration for a number of up-and-coming artists. Caroline is still producing work at an impressive rate, demonstrating her desire to make things of beauty and share them with the world.
“All I want is love and to give it out. I paint in the same way that I cook a meal, or run a festival, it’s all creativity and dedication and awareness,” Caroline adds.
“The mantra I live my life by is ‘well and happy and free from fear’ which I use everywhere from my work to my gardening – and my flowers and vegetables always bloom! I just want to live, to always be watching, listening and learning without judgement or fear. I want to take in from the world and be wise about it, and then it comes out in its own magical way. I will continue to work this way until I drop.”