For artist Carly Le Cerf, who is based in Western Australia’s Mount Barker, on Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar lands, conveying the vast beauty of Australia’s rugged interior landscapes is a dance between what she remembers and letting her medium speak. Working with encaustic wax and oil painting techniques to illustrate the places she visits, Carly’s texture-rich works derive from an immersive journey.
“Every year, I go off on location for a solid two weeks and then return to my home studio to create a body of work with everything I’ve gathered from my time away. I investigate that area in every way possible – I meditate on site, record the sound, take videos and photos, write and paint.”
Yellow Centre is Carly Le Cerf’s first major solo exhibition at Michael Reid Sydney, and follows a series of successful exhibitions at Michael Reid Murrurundi. Comprised of fifteen new major works, Yellow Centre is the culmination of a two-week self directed residency to the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory. On this occasion, Le Cerf was accompanied by a group of her peers, collecting crucial material that would inform major works back in her Mount Barker studio.
In the studio, Le Cerf sometimes refers to her on-site notes and other times relies on pictures built up in her mind. The artist prefers letting the practice flow rather than trying to control it. “While I come back with plenty of information, the work itself is very process-driven,” she says. “There’s a lot of alchemy involved with encaustics. It’s organic, just like nature is… it does its own thing.”
The chunky nature of encaustics, a blend of beeswax and dammar resin, proves ideal for Le Cerf’s rugged terrains. The artist attributes her love of these landscapes to her parents, with whom she moved to Perth from the UK, when she was five. The family would spend time camping and exploring in nature. “They were fed the Leyland Brothers growing up, and that’s what Australia was all about to us!” she says.
Since 2008, Carly Le Cerf’s work has been exhibited in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, as well as in Berlin. Her multi-layered observations of Australian typography have commanded significant collecting attention as well as critical praise. In 2020 she achieved the professional milestone of selling an entire exhibition to a single patron.
When asked about her personal relationship to the landscapes that she paints, Le Cerf remarks: “I think I look at the landscape differently to someone who was born here, in the sense that I don’t have a feeling of ownership.”
Yellow Centre will exhibit at Michael Reid Sydney from April 13 – May 13, 2023.
Portions of this text originally appeared in Country Style magazine’s March 2023 issue. Words contributed by Samantha Engmond and Country Style Magazine.