A Richness in Texture – Stephen Carlier

Words by Jackson Hides
Photography by Tim Kaye

With his formative years spent wandering the woodlands near his childhood home, artist Stephen Carlier grasped a deep appreciation for nature from a young age. Particularly enthralled by the change in natural textures throughout the seasons, this phenomenon gave him something to centre his artistic vision upon. As a thorough understanding of his medium unfurls to create layered and textural pieces, Stephen blurs the line between painting and sculpture.

Despite having worked with natural plaster for many years, Stephen did not begin working with the material to produce art until he moved to Australia from England in 2014. This shift allowed the layered textural themes he had been drawn to since childhood to bloom. Stephen quickly realised that the qualities of the natural world he sought to recreate could be harnessed when working with this specific material. “I create art based on experiences and emotions, which are expressed through thoughtful use of colours, layers and textures,” he explains. With this in mind, it is little wonder that applying the medium to his artistic practice has encouraged a sense of discovery and depth.

“With a life spanning the world’s of art and craft, Stephen’s trade experience has gifted him an innate understanding of materiality.”

Stephen at work in his Abbotsford studio.

Stephen’s art is clearly a culmination of his life’s work. Having been trained in the craft of plaster in the English countryside of Surrey, there was a sense of inevitability that this material – with which he was so familiar – would become the medium that would enable Stephen to find his true artistic voice. After studying three-dimensional art before emigrating and establishing his studio in Abbotsford, in Melbourne’s north, his reference points to texture and layering are demonstrated in the mixture of natural plaster, acrylic paint and powders featured in his work.

Recognition for Stephen’s art has come quickly, demonstrative of the universality of his core themes and the elegance of his execution. Exhibiting at Thought Forms Gallery as part of the SPECTRUM exhibition earlier this year – the theme of which was an exploration of the perception, inspiration or utilisation of light “whether it be light to touch, physical weight, digital technology, natural light, shadows, colour or electricity” – Stephen’s work showed how a medium as robust as plaster could be creatively interpreted to embody both painterly and sculptural qualities.

Stephen’s art is a clear culmination of his life’s work.

With a life spanning the worlds of art and craft, Stephen’s trade experience has gifted him an innate understanding of materiality. It is a skill that has seen him uniquely qualified to harness the sense of discovery he first stumbled upon in the English countryside all those years ago to create layered, textural works of art.