Caro Pattle

 Caro's world is one of rich tactility. Visiting her house and studio resulted in an overstimulation of visual intrigue - hand made instruments, stacks of archival art magazines and all manner of fabric lengths and spools that sung to be materialised. 

In a climate fixated on the monetisation of craft as it's ultimate validation, Caro's practice is one of continued experimentation and play, defying this expectation.

An absolute joy to share the interview below.

Please take a moment to introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Caro and I'm an artist. I grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand & Lutruwita/Tasmania but I've been living and working in Naarm/Melbourne for the last decade. My art practice focuses on the agency of materials and the power of objects. I use craft techniques and time-intensive processes like weaving to create sculptural works that sit somewhere between the human and the natural world.

What led you to explore the world of textiles and handcraft?
Like a lot of people, I grew up in a family where women created with fibres - variously knitters, sewers, weavers & rug makers. In saying that, I came to my medium via a pretty circuitous route. At art school I was more into producing highly textured drawings, where every tiny mark recorded the passing of a moment. It wasn't until I went on to study textile design that I started to get a feel for how material could be my medium.

My work is a little different to my family members' traditional craft practices in that I'm quite wary of gaining a complete mastery of my material. So I try to steer clear of using highly technical or mathematical processes and instead focus on basic accumulative techniques such as knotting or coil weaving. I also work with a lot of different materials so I'm constantly starting back at square one. In the end I want these objects to have a dynamism and presence which is almost at odds with the time intensive handcraft methods I use to create my work. 
We've spoken on commerce & creativity as dual strands that are difficult to intersect. How has this balancing act informed your artistry?
As an early-career artist, I'm still finding my way and figuring out how I like to work. To be honest, I expect to be figuring this out for the rest of my life. For me, working with commercial interests in mind can be a bit of a mood killer and I think we really need to examine the degree to which we equate income with success. It kind of blows my mind that one of the first questions people often ask when they find out I'm an artist is if I make money from it, and I find it a bit sad that a pursuit is seen as a hobby unless other people are willing to pay you to do it.

It can be quite intoxicating to make money, however some of the times where I've earnt the most income from my art have also been the periods where I've been a total physical and mental wreck. I'm a lot more selective now. I'll make commissions if I like the client and I'll just take on exhibitions if I think I can use them to develop my practice. I do love it when people really enjoy my work and my pieces get integrated into their homes and lives. I have a day job in the arts which pays the rent and takes away a lot of the pressure to pump out work. Life is short and I don't want to spend it making work that isn't meaningful to me.
What sustains your creative spirit? Are there any rituals you enjoy?
As my work is often very detailed and time intensive, it's really important for me to take a step back sometimes to gain a better perspective. I often get my best ideas in liminal in-between spaces like the shower, the tram or while falling asleep. At these times your brain is less rigid and you're more likely to make connections between disparate approaches or concepts. Reading critical theory is also an important part of gaining other perspectives on my work and I find it quite energising to learn about how others are grappling with the same ideas that inform my own practice. So in short, I absolutely love a read and an afternoon nap for reviving the spirits.
Favourite sounds and scents to accompany your studio hours?
I'll often cycle through different phases during the day. I'll start off with some music to get me going, often daggy 'easy listening' music from the 60's or 70's to ease me into the day as I'm not naturally a morning person. Across the middle of the day I tend to listen to podcasts. I like podcasts that are informative or offer a look into an unfamiliar world - podcasts on ancient history or cults are a favourite. At the moment I'm listening to Let's Talk About SectsArt SmittenSculpting Lives & The Ancients. When I really need to knuckle down in the afternoon I listen to music that I would describe as repetitive in an iterative way, like Philip Glass, Wim Mertens or molam. I really enjoy minimalist music as I feel like it echoes the texture created by my repetitive processes. As for scents, I love a scented candle to calm the mood and reframe the mind. I'm a sandalwood or fig gurlie.
How does your love of textiles guide the way you dress? What kind of clothing are you drawn to?
I really enjoy dressing, especially that feeling in the morning of thinking about what sorts of fabric you want to encase yourself in for the day. A few years back I went through a stage of not having a full-length mirror and although I probably wore some quite strange outfits, it really helped me to think about the sensation of clothing and of dressing for my own desires as well as for other's perceptions.

I would say material composition and texture really guides how I dress. Having studied textiles, I like knowing the story of how the fabric came to be, from silk worms or merino sheep to fields of white cotton blooms. In my art practice I always imagine my objects in contexts; for example how two objects might relate to each other or, with my blue velvet works, I imagine them half-buried in dirt. I like to try to dress the same, by imagining textures and fabrics in conversation with each other; maybe a textured and a smooth silk paired together, or a lightweight fabric with a more prosaic textile like denim. 
I am enamoured by the sight of your intimate studio being overtaken by a drum kit. What's the story behind it's pride of place & how has learning an instrument broadened your creative sensibilities?
Yes! I picked up the drum sticks a few months ago and installed a friend's kit right in the middle of my studio. At the time I was feeling a bit frustrated and stuck and just wanted to try something new. So far I've only mastered some very basic drumming patterns but I'm pretty obsessed with it. I think it's quite valuable to be humbled by trying something new, and it's actually quite great that there are lots of pursuits in the world that I'll no doubt be not much good at once I try them. With drumming, it feels like dancing when my brain and all of my limbs are in sync and I find it quite funny when they don't cooperate despite my intense efforts.
As your artistic path winds into the future, what are you hopeful for in this continued exploration?
It might sound a bit naff, but I'm just really looking forward to making work for the rest of my life and seeing where my path takes me. I definitely take a long-view of my art practice, and I prefer it to be open-ended. I'm always battling the tendency to fully imagine pieces before they're realised, partly because I wonder then what the point of making them is. In this way, I feel quite curious to meet my future work because I don't know what it will look like or how it will 'be.'

A lot of the joy my studio gives me is in the relationship between the objects I create, and to this end I'd like to work towards a solo exhibition at some point. I'm pretty aware of not rushing things though, and of waiting until I feel like the work is ready to sing.