Caroline Rothwell's artworks explore the effects of human intervention on nature, often delving into ideas surrounding consumption and the legacy of colonisation.Read More
Whether as drawings, paintings, or sculptures, Caroline Rothwell often combines flora, fauna and human figures to create hybrid forms. In the bronze sculpture Transmutation (2010), for example, its skeletal human body has an oval frame for its head, decorated by branch-like extensions and a bird that sits atop. Vault (2020), an acrylic painting that received the Sir John Sulman Prize 2020, draws on the 19th century Wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities—a collection of exotic specimens and artefacts—to examine the West's disconnection from nature and traditional knowledge.
Plants, which feature prominently in Caroline Rothwell's hybrid sculptures, are a 'way of trying to understand place', as she told Ocula Magazine in 2021. In Flow (2013), a wall-mounted 'painting' made from a finely cut piece of structural PVC, architectural structures and various plant forms merge to form a dense portrait of nature. In 2021, Rothwell collaborated with Google Creative Lab to create the multi-channel projection and accompanying app Infinite Herbarium, which creates hybrid plants out of photographs taken by its users.
Rothwell's exploration of the evolving relationship between human action and nature also engages with ideas of geoengineering, which attempts to counteract climate change by manipulating the earth's climate system. Participating in the Adelaide Biennial in 2014, Rothwell presented such works as Climate Machine—a table-top device evocative of cloud seeding machines, devices used to generate precipitation—and PVC paintings that combine imagery of climate technology, clouds, weeds, and architecture. In that same year, Rothwell's solo exhibition Weather Maker at Sydney's Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery also presented the artist's version of geoengineering with a focus on weather modification technology.
Rothwell has completed a number of works for public spaces. Dispersed (2009), installed at the Economist Plaza in London and sponsored by the Contemporary Art Society and the Economist Group, consists of bronze Tygers—imaginary animals based on the now-extinct Tasmanian tigers—and PVC paintings featuring hybrid flowers. The 6-metre tall Composer (2016), conceived for the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, depicts a pinwheel with a small female form attached to its rod. Modeled after Rothwell's daughter, the figure serves as a weathervane—hence the title 'Composer'.
Caroline Rothwell's exhibitions include: Corpus, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore (2021); Splice, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2019); Ex Situ, VerghisArt, London (2018); Turbulence, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2016); Urpflanze Street Plants, Museum of Economy Botany, Adelaide (2014); The Pulse of Time (with Chiharu Shiota), Future Perfect, Singapore (2013); Blowback, Artspace, Sydney, and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2008).
Caroline Rothwell has participated in numerous group exhibitions including: The National, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2021); Dora Ohlfsen and the facade commission, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2019); _Femmag_e, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2019); Make Known: The Exquisite Order of Infinite Variation, UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2018); Antipodes Cut Apart, Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, U.K. (2016); Tipping Points, Gallery Bergen, New Jersey (2016); Australia, Contemporary Voices, Fine Art Society, London (2013).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021