Carrie is a self-titled craftivist and renegade potter who works from a mosaic-covered building in London. She uses a mix of mural, mosaic and screenprinting techniques to create elaborate, often politicized works of art.
Carrie trained at Kingston University and achieved a First class degree in Fine Art from Leeds Metropolitan. She was Artist in Residence at Camberwell Art College in 2009 and at The Single Homeless Project, a charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people in London.
Carrie has been involved in international community and public art projects for over 20 years. Her recent work includes Voodoo Zulu Liberation Taxi, which was recently on display at Coventry Transport Museum, raising awareness about the inhumane treatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement and death rows. Other prominent public works include Dada the Trojan Horse, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Disobedient Objects for the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Mary Bamber – a Revolutionary Woman, for the Museum of Liverpool. Her most recently commissioned community project with The Treatment Rooms Collective is a ceramic mural in the new Acton Gardens development, Tree of Life.
Carrie was awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 2013 to advance the craft of community mosaics working with local communities in Chile and Mexico. She is currently the first visual artist in residence for Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Carrie Reichardt’s work has been featured in the press including The Observer, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Tile and Stone, as well as in several books including renowned ceramist Paul Scott’s Ceramics and Print, 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse by Garth Johnson, Mural Art No 2 by Kirikos Iosifidis and The Idler 42 – Smash the System by Tom Hodgkinson.
We have been working with Carrie since 2009 when Dan started to handle her work in Brighton. He debut was at the Renegade Potters and Extreme Craft show based in Brighton in 2010. Carrie assisted in the curation of part of the show and introduced some of her fellow artists to the public. The show was ahead of its time and received a lot of positive feedback from collectors across the globe.
International Collaborative Projects
Vogeltreppe, Mosaic Intervention, Pirmansens, Germany
Hands off the Wall Festival, Vienna, Austria
Nuart Street Art Festival, Stavanger, Norway
Nuart Oslo Rad, Norway
Nuart Aberdeen Street Art Festival, Scotland, UK
Culture is Liberty, Public Art, Community Assembly of Miravalle, Mexico City, Mexico
Urban Mosaic Intervention, Public Art, Town Hall, Puento Alto, Santiago, Chile
Arte x Parte 2, Public Art, Berazateui, Argentina
2012 Urban Interstices, Public Art, Cultural Centre of Spain, Mexico City, Mexico
2011 Arte x Parte 1, Public Art, Berazateui, Argentina
Artist-in-residency, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, UK
Artist-in-residency, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA
Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship – ‘To Advance the Craft of Community Mosaics’ – funded research in Chile and Mexico
Artist-in-residency, Camberwell College of Art, London, UK
Artist-in-residency, Single Homeless Project, London, UK
NHS 70 – Thanks for Everything, Ceramic mural, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK
Mad in Coventry, Reimagining the Car, Coventry Transport Museum, UK
South Acton Tree of Life, Ceramic mural, Acton Gardens, London, UK
Power to the People, Ceramic intervention, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Mary Bamber – A Revolutionary Woman, Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
Little Miss DMT, Milan Elephant Parade, Triennale de Milan Museum of Art, Milan, Italy
Dada – The Trojan Horse, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Cheltenham, UK
Phoolan, London Elephant Parade, Natural History Museum, London, UK
Tiki Love Truck , Walk the Plank, Manchester Art Car Parade, Manchester, UK
Selected Solo Exhibitons
2018 Shakespearianne Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, UK
Mad in Mexico, ink_d gallery, Brighton, UK
2013 Reject the State Cult Mountain, London, UK
2011 Mad in England Ink_d Gallery, Brighton, UK
Selected Group Shows
White + Black, Group show, Whistleblower Gallery, Brighton, UK
Cash is King, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Revolutions per Minute, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Moniker Art Fair, London UK
The Other Art Fair, London UK
Here we go!, Group show, Whistleblower Gallery, Brighton, UK
Hand Luggage Only – Nuart Gallery, Stavanger, Norway
Unconventional Clay – Engaged in Change, The Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, USA
Society of American Mosaic Artists, Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA
Disobedient Objects, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Mosaic Arts International, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA
Boom, Bubble and Burst, Motorenhalle, Dresden, Germany
London Art Fair, London, UK
Mix-Winter Show, Lawrence Alkin Gallery, London, UK
Monika Art Fair, London, UK
Mix-Summer Show, Lawrence Alkin Gallery, London, UK
London Art Fair, London, UK
Tailored Anarchy, London Westbank Gallery, Ibiza, Spain
Seven Deadly Sins, Unit Gallery, London, UK
Utopia, Unit Gallery, London, UK
Riot Here Riot Now, W3 Gallery, London, UK
London Art Fair, London, UK
You’ve been framed, W3 Gallery, London, UK
Inspired by William Morris, William Morris Museum, London, UK
The Art of Preservation, London Westbank Gallery, Ibiza, Spain
Extreme Craft and Renegade Potters, ink_d Gallery, Brighton, UK
Made In Britain, London Miles Gallery, London, UK
Love Life, Signal Gallery, London, UK
Scope Art Fair, London, UK
Extreme Craft, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania
We sometimes have other available works by Carrie Reichardt, or can accept commissions. Please get in touch if you want to know more.
In conversation with Carrie Reichardt
by Dan Hipkin
You studied at Kingston University and graduated at Leeds Metropolitan, what was your preferred medium back then?
I originally wanted to do Film Making, did a term, dropped out to go travelling… then I went to Kingston to do an Art Foundation course. I was originally going to do a Film degree but I didn’t get into it and by default I fell into an Art Degree course at Leeds… but yeah, my preferred medium back then was film.
How was your experience as an art student?
My first year was a form of therapy. Just before I did my Art Foundation course, I was sexually abused in an alleyway while going back home from the pub. That experience totally destroyed me. I wanted to kill myself. I had to go to a psychiatric hospital… it was a terryfing period. I used art as a form of therapy, as a way to express myself. I made a three minute film called Ode to Love where I used intercuts of terrible imagery of women being raped with images of women being loved and other images that talked about all sort of ideas about femininity, women… I took it to Sheffield University, to their film department, and they told me they were surprised that anyone was allowed to make such a misogynist, awful film. I still don’t know to this day whether they said that to test my response or whether they really did believe it. For me, it wasn’t so much a piece of art as it was a way to deal with terrible trauma. I was quite shocked to see their reaction. That really affected me and I wanted to get rid of my portfolio… But then I changed my mind and ended up in Leeds Polytechnic (University) where I was told they no longer did film studies but painting, printing and sculpture. I opted for sculpture.
What type of student were you?
Very much the agent provocateur… they hated me! They didn’t try to kick me out but it was clear they didn’t like me. I had missed all my art history lessons because I had to be seen by a psychiatrist every Wednesday which is when the lessons took place so I felt I never learned how to discuss things properly. I felt I had views but couldn’t really articulate them very well so… yeah, I was a bit bolshie.
Did you always use art as a way of protest?
No. It was therapy all the way through college. Even my degree show work was a form of therapy.
Is it still therapeutic?
Not anymore. I mean, the process of creating is therapeutic but not the art itself. I think I have moved very far from that way of working which is perhaps one of the reasons why I sometimes feel I want to go back to it. All of my work was always completely autobiographical… every disaster, every bad experience in my life was dealt with through art… but then I had children, I met someone on death row who really changed my life… and I suppose I stopped being so focused on my own life.
Do you think those people became your sources of inspiration?
Yes, definitely, they were my inspiration. But that was also a time when I wasn’t really working on my own work. I was a community artist so I was creating for other people or facilitating other people to create for themselves.
You have been involved in several community and public art projects, would you like to talk a bit about that? How did you start getting involved?
Me, my friend Karen and her brother Mark formed a three people group called Living Space Arts through which we did community and public work for ten years. Once day, I did a mosaic and somebody saw it and asked me if I’d want to do a similar project at their school, and I thought okay I can do that. I realised that working on a mosaic was not only therapeutic for me but for other people as well. Mosaic work is a metaphor. You take little broken pieces, put them together and make a whole. You create something new from all these little items. It’s symbolic, it’s beautiful and anyone can do it.
During that time working with Living Space Arts we did lots of projects together, we didn’t get paid very much because we were so insecure we had to work together and therefore had to share the money we were getting. So instead of getting £100 for the day we would get £33 because we had to split it three ways! It was an interesting period. We went to a Romanian orphanage a couple of times to do work there and saw horrible things with children… When we came back, we couldn’t work for six months because the experience had been so traumatic we were unable to do anything.
Living Space Arts was an amazing experience but after ten years together we wanted to do our own work. Mark moved to Berlin to be a painter and Karen set up Touchwood Trees, an art project with a more environmental approach, and I went on to do my personal work because I had the luxury of a partner that worked, and a free house. I went back to college and spent the next eight years furthering my studies. It is then that I discovered ceramics.
'Making art was a form of therapy. But it isn't anymore.'
Did you carry on doing community work?
The last piece we did together was at Harold Hills Library. It was a phenomenal piece of mosaic making called ‘The Art of Recycling’ to promote recycling. Later, as a solo artist, I got back into public art when I went to South America and worked on large-scale projects. I went to Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
How did you approach large-scale projects in those communities?
For me, it’s all about helping a community to make a piece. I tend to print out tiles that I think they might like, I display them on a table with the public watching and then they themselves chose the ones they like and put them in. My first experience in Argentina was very interesting… So many people came to me afterwards crying and thanking me for allowing them to express themselves through that imagery. You know, Argentina is a country that has a very recent history of people being tortured or executed by the mere fact of holding imagery like that… The second time I worked there was for a local school. I was asked to create a project working with local children and we created a large-scale mosaic with all the names of the local desaparecidos, all those people that went missing during the dictatorship. It was a very meaningful and very powerful project.
You have talked a lot about certain experiences or people that have inspired you. Is that what got you into activism?
Absolutely. My friend Luis Ramírez being executed was one of them. Up to that point, I had been a left-leaning artist that had principles but had never known injustice. I’m from Chiswick – there aren’t many injustices there! My biggest injustice was my father treating me the way he did but I hadn’t really known much injustice until that point. Luis was innocent. I read a lot about death row, I wrote to him, I looked up at facts and figures… I’m compulsive obsessive and I look at everything there is. I have now studied the subject for ten years. Throught time, I developed an amazing relationship with Luis. I wrote to him twice a week for five years, I went to see him two days before he was killed. I developed a feeling of disbelief I hadn’t experienced before. I was very much brought up with law and order and black and white, and so it was a shock to see such misconduct, such injustice. So when I came back home I was traumatised by the experience so I just mosaiqued for about 12 hours a day, seven days a week for about nince months. When I look back I feel sorry for my kids because I wasn’t there. But my work keeps me mentally sane. That’s when I became really politicised, when my work became politicised.
I created a mosaic wall called ‘Luis Memorial Mural’ with references to him and some of his personal items.
I said to him if you can send me anything made out of metal or plastic I can embed it into this wall I’m working on. So he sent me his identity card which he must have posted just before he was killed.
Being that your work is so personal, how do you feel about the commercialisation of your work through galleries?
Well, I have always had some sort of relationship with galleries. It’s just not my main force so it doesn’t take all my energy. When I work in projects such as the Argentinian ones, that’s really when my soul sings, but working commercially also forces me to hone my skills and I like doing that too. Whatever I do, I always want to do to the best of my ability. Always. I’m only interested in excellence. That is why when I work on something, be it to be sold in galleries or to be displayed publicly, it takes all my energy.
'What got me into activism was my friend Luis Ramírez being executed. That's when I became politicised. That's when my work became politicised.'
Are there any other things that inspire you?
Images, really. I don’t remember names, I don’t remember events, I don’t remember places but I have a very good memory of images. Before I had children, I had thousands of sketchbooks with ripped out images that I liked. I have always been a collector of iconic imagery, advertising, things I grew up with… And I always surrounded myself by photographers, artists and graphic designers, people that created images or had an eye for them, even as a child.
What are you currently working on?
There are two things I’m doing at the moment in terms of artwork. One is for a huge public artwork in South Acton. The other is a colaboration with my new partner Bob Osborne. This work is less didactic, less political and more playful. We’re using pieces that are evocative from our childhood, found items that are beautifully crafted. Working with Bob is drawing me back to my dadaist/surrealist roots.
Your use of ceramics… has it always been a conscious thing?
Well, all my life I have been so insecure about my art... I never thought I could draw or paint so I took to casting and collage. I liked realistic imagery very much but because I couldn’t reproduce it to the standard I liked, I used photocopies and photographs that I then used to build a collage and recreate that realistic and didactic result I was after. Through the years, I developed the ability to play around with bits of imagery. When I discovered mosaic, I stuck to it and ended up developing my skills to a very high level, by incorporating my skills as a ceramicist.
I love working on crafts because it allows me to get away with things. People that are looking at a piece for a long time are unlikely to be offended. You have to have an appreciation of craft to even look at it. Many people will take a look and will say ‘oh, that’s nice’ and then walk away, but they don’t really see it. With my work you have to look and look close to be offended, you have to kind of ‘go there’ to look at the detail and then be able to see. There might be some people that don’t like what they see but they still appreciate the craft. People appreciate time, labour, skills, you know, all those things…
So do you think people that like your work do because they recognise the skill and time that it takes to produce?
I would hope so!
Is there any other medium that you would like to work with?
Well, I always wanted to work with textiles. You see, textiles are very similar to mosaic and I have collected fabrics, old handkerchiefs from the war… It’s all about stitching pieces together and creating a different story.
You’ve shown in some of the most iconic galleries in the country as well as in museums like the V&A, the Museum of Liverpool and the Natural History Museum. What other projects would you like to get involved in?
I’ll always like to be invited to any town in any part of the world so I can help them create the people’s history. The most important thing we do as people is tell stories and retain them, and I think more now than ever we need to be doing it, and we can do it in such a beautiful way. I think we need those pieces of public art where people can go and look at and learn. I don’t know a more beautiful way of doing that than with ceramics. People’s history is so important but it’s often not the one that is told because it’s not in books. I obviously like working on commercial work too, it funds me, and I enjoy it in a different way but the most important work for me is public art, telling people’s history.
How was your experience showing at the V&A?
Oh, it was amazing. I mean of course I realise what an important institution the V&A is and what an achievement that was but I’m happiest showing on a wall somewhere where everyone can see it. You know, museums can be a bit intimidating sometimes… The piece I showed at the V&A was dedicated to my executed friend John Joe ‘Ash’ Amador and it’s called ‘Tiki Love Truck’, a tiled 4x4 truck. Me and Nick Reynold’s visited Ash’s body and took his death mask which is incorporated in the work. I was also really happy that my piece about the suffragettes of Merseyside was bought by the Museum of Liverpool and that they displayed it, but I was happiest about the fact that I could tell their story and that people will be able to see it and hopefully learn from it.
Thanks for the conversation, Carrie.
It was my pleasure.
Interview, photography and design © by Whistleblower Gallery, 2016. All rights reserved.
If you wish to purchase any work by Carrie Reichardt, please visit our shop.