Native animals, meditation and fashionistas: exploring the worldly mind of Archibald artist Carla Fletcher

After fashion design and illustration studies, Carla Fletcher approached fine art drawing at RMIT; the artistic heritage that she has collected over the years nowadays putting her up to wider perspectives, new stylistic features and bigger audiences.

Carla Fletcher is almost ready for her next outstanding solo show, she’ll be presenting at Tinning Street a new body of work titled Butterflies of Metatron.

Butterflies of Metatron
Butterflies of Metatron

A multi-disciplinary artist with her mind, body and soul in tandem, Carla Fletcher’s style is striking, magical and forever in flux.

HAPPY: What are we going to expect from your exhibition at Tinning Street?

CARLA: This new body of work is definitely a new direction for me. Further engaging in colour and pattern yet leaving signature figurative drawing aside, Butterflies of Metraton are paintings of vibrant cosmic origin. Metatron is an energy frequency that holds pure universal love. The magic of the butterfly’s existence through its metamorphosis from caterpillar to the delicate winged beauty is amplified by it’s unfathomable natural expression of colour and pattern. Forever a symbolism of transformation and ethereal beauty, the butterfly holds an important space in the cosmos.

The Alchemist
The Alchemist

HAPPY: And why this need for change?

CARLA: The change in direction has been coming for a while, actually I think I have been fending it off for a while now… Butterflies of Metraton comes from a meditation that I had at the start of the year. So, for me it is coming from a different place than my portraits or previous observations. The portraits and animals that I have done previously came from observing the external world around me and this new work comes from an inner world.

Jenny Kee
Jenny Kee

HAPPY: For Jenny Kee’s portrait, did you use any particular painting techniques?

CARLA: The Jenny Kee portrait is painted on paper and then collaged together onto canvas. It was a totally new process to pull the paint off the canvas onto another medium as I wanted to get the high pencil detail of her face that is possible on paper. It was also so much fun playing with Jenny Kee’s bright layered textiles in colour.

HAPPY: We observe that some of your portraits are more colorful than others, is this chance or not?

CARLA: I majored in drawing at art school and focused on the fundamentals of human anatomy. I even sketched face lift operations under a plastic surgeon alongside the regular life drawing classes with my lecturers to further understand the way the human form is structured. In more recent years, I have been looking for ways to incorporate colour and paint into my work. The opportunity to do Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson’s portraits were a perfect integration of my studies of anatomy and an exploration of colour via these two iconic Australian Fashion Designers.

Linda Jackson
Linda Jackson

HAPPY: Friendship is one of the key motifs within your portraits, isn’t it?

CARLA: My 2015 and 2016 Archibald Prize portraits Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson are twin soul portraits. Together Jenny and Linda are magic, transcendent, creative collaborators who electrified Australia with bolts of luminous colour and dreaming. From their first meeting in the early 1970s there was an instant soul connection, a connection that remains strong. The portraits were made to be together. Currently Linda’s portrait is on tour until late 2017… I will be exhibiting them together in late 2017 – for the first time the twin souls will align!


HAPPY: Do you feel yourself more comfortable in large or small spaces?

CARLA: The scale of my work keeps growing so I am excited by and tend to gravitate towards larger spaces. Scale is a great way to create drama. By simply placing a large work in a small space or a small work on an expansive wall you can change the way a work is experienced.

HAPPY: Most of your recent works depict native Australian animals, whereabouts does this wilder inspiration come from?

CARLA: Australian native fauna connects to the wild heart of our natural landscape. As the planet moves into significant environmental changes they reflect the innocence within us all that we need to protect. They are pure in spirit, responding and living in the natural environment without politics or religion. A beautiful reminder of what is possible on earth.


HAPPY: Tell us more about your daily life, balance amongst nature, environment and your artistic practice.

CARLA: I am based in inner city Melbourne so my daily connection to nature is through my walks with my dog and studio companion Django. These walks are very important to balance my indoor studio hours. Daily meditation prior to entering my work is a way to transition from the noise of the mind into a clarity and calm that makes the studio a beautiful, sacred place to be. A balance of physical immersion in nature, the ritual of meditation and the discipline of the studio has been the key in producing this new work. A balance of mind, body and spirit.