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'Caroline Walker – In Every Dream Home'
PM Gallery & House
Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing, London W5 5EQ
18 July – 8 September
Cinematic scenes exploring relationships between people and architecture
Sometimes dream homes can be anything but…
The first public solo exhibition by London-based artist Caroline Walker opens on Thursday at PM Gallery. A bright talent in current international figurative painting, Caroline Walker makes paintings that explore people’s physical and psychological relationships with the buildings in which they spend time, whether at home, work, at leisure or in more mysterious circumstances. With a particular interest in femininity and full of contemporary and historical references and influences, Walker’s practice is an engaging journey into the modern female condition and the ‘female gaze’.
'In Every Dream Home' runs from 18 July – 8 September at PM Gallery, the extension to one of Sir John Soane’s great architectural treasures, his own ‘dream house’, Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing, west London. Sitting in Walpole Park, central Ealing, Pitzhanger Manor was designed by Soane as a place to entertain his friends and display his collection of art and antiquities.
Caroline Walker depicts women undertaking all manner of activities, from everyday chores, sleeping and sunbathing to more obscure or dramatic scenarios, taking the viewer inside people’s private worlds and states of mind. Some seem lonely, bored, tired or depressed, while others appear happy and relaxed, whether alone or in company.
While the paintings are often charming and appealing, there is regularly something odd or unexpected underlying them, occasionally verging on the threatening or dangerous.
Often it is unclear who the women are, or what their relationship is with the premises in which they are located as many of the locations depicted are luxury houses and apartments, it is hard to say if a particular person is the owner or a tenant, a guest or a maid, opening up social and cultural questions about the paintings and inviting us to question whether we are looking at the super-rich at leisure, house-sitters, holidaymakers, people under house arrest, domestic workers, squatters, or actors on set.
The show’s title was inspired by the Roxy Music song ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’, about which Caroline Walker said, ‘'The song is about our obsession with material wealth and how this is ultimately empty; we might appear to have a perfect life, but things are never that simple.’
The research and development for Walker’s paintings is an elaborate process. She finds properties around the UK and abroad in which to stage photo shoots. Carefully chosen costumes, accessories and props are brought along and Walker directs her cast of life models and actors around the property. Following this, the artist makes a number of drawings and oil sketches before settling on a composition to work up into a final painting back in her studio.
As a result, a cinematic and theatrical atmosphere pervades the work; alongside film influences ranging from Alfred Hitchcock to David Lynch and recent Hollywood productions, Walker is inspired by artists including Eric Fischl, the Scottish colourists and current painting from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as by the constructed photography of Hannah Starkey, Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall.
In Every Dream Home has been curated by Matt Price in association with PM Gallery and House. A new monograph on the artist featuring texts by Marco Livingstone, Jane Neal and Matt Price has been published to accompany the exhibition. The project has been generously supported by the Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust, ProjectB Gallery, Milan, and Ivan Gallery, Bucharest.
Caroline Walker – 'In Every Dream Home'.
Dates: 18 July – 8 September 2013.
Admission is free to all visitors.
PM Gallery & Pitzhanger Manor, Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, Ealing, London W5 5EQ
Opening Times: Tues-Fri 1-5p.m.; Sat 11a.m.-5p.m.; Sundays 1–5p.m.
Further visitor information www.ealing.gov.uk/pmgalleryandhouse 020 8567 1227
Travel: Trains & tube to Ealing Broadway. Buses 207, 65 & 83.