February 3rd, 2024Artists of the Central Highlands
With Eve Lamb
The artistic oeuvre of Newstead-based Carol de Graauw is impressively diverse. Jeweller, silversmith, ceramicist, sculptor, this mutli-talented local designs and creates jewellery using gold, silver, bronze, cloisonne enameling and resin. She is just as at home, however, working with clay to create functional and decorative pieces. De Graauw has described creativity as “an escape pad” that “engages the heart, mind, soul and body in the act of making unique pieces”.
Eve: G’day Carol you are clearly a woman of many talents. Can you tell us a bit about the various different genre and media that are part of your arts practice?
Carol: My main love is silversmithing but I also do painting and ceramics. I also do enamel work and I do work in resin as well – the colours are just gorgeous. Enameling is such an intricate artwork and requires more patience than usual.
Eve: Where is your home studio?
Carol: My home studio is in Newstead, and I’m part of the MANet Art Focus Maldon Artist Network gallery at 27 Main Street in Maldon. I’ve just had my Balance solo exhibition here but some of my work will stay in the gallery. This little gallery has been here in Maldon for 12 months now and we’ve got a strong following.
Eve: What is it about silversmithing that makes it your main focus?
Carol: I love making wearable art. That’s how I see the jewelry that I make. Oftentimes people will have it as a sentimental keepsake. I was always fascinated by the 3D aspect of it. I love manipulating the metal, and I really like working with stone too, natural gemstones. I think gemstones are so beautiful. That’s a passion. I traveled to Sri Lanka last year and they have beautiful stones over there which I have been able to incorporate in my new collection of silversmithing work.
Eve: How did you come to art?
Carol: I’ve always had an interest in art. Mum was also an artist and there was always a strong emphasis on creativity. It was my favourite thing at school and then I went to art school as an adult for two years in Adelaide and three years in Melbourne. The course I did was with the Chisholm Institute at Frankston at that time. It was a Bachelor of Arts/Crafts and it incorporated ceramics, stained glass, silversmithing, painting and drawing. It was a fantastic course and in my third year I specialised in silversmithing.
Eve: What factors influence or inspire your work Carol?
Carol: I love Egyptian art and most forms of architecture, particularly 1920s art and architecture, art deco. I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively when I was younger, through Turkey and Europe and Egypt so I got to see so many great architectural works and art and it enriched my life and work.
Eve: Have you been able to make a living through your own creative practice, Carol, or have you had to work in any other areas as well?
Carol: I was a secondary school teacher for 28 years. I taught art and design, ceramics, metalwork and textiles at Castlemaine Secondary College and before that in the Dandenong Ranges where I lived for a lot of my life as well. I’ve been in this area for 20 years now, six years at Newstead, and I built my studio at home about three years ago.
Eve: Do you have any special events or exhibitions coming up?
Carol: Yes. I will be part of the Open Studios in Newstead in March over the long Labour Day weekend and also the following weekend of March 16 and 17. Newstead has its own arts trail. Castlemaine has open studios at the same time. There are about 15 participating studios in Newstead and more artists involved than that. My studio will be open and I will also have two guest artists exhibiting with me. It’s an amazing event.
Eve: What do you enjoy most about your working life as an artist, Carol?
Carol: That I step into my studio and the day seems full of possibility. I just get excited about all the different things I can do. It’s my meditation.