Carrie Reichardt is a leading contemporary UK artist and self-confessed ‘craftivist’. She uses murals, ceramics and screen-printing to create stunning, affordable, subversive art and her work has also been shown at the V&A. Here, she tells Martha Roberts about her lifelong love-affair with colour…
Martha: Can you describe your first colour memory?
Carrie: I am not sure of my first colour memory, but I do remember that, as a child colour was extremely important to me. I went through a long phase of only wearing purple clothes and eating yellow food. My mother told me I lived on banana’s and eggs for weeks. I would spend hours just rearranging my pencils and pens in colour order – in fact I spent more time doing this than actually using them. Also every Sat I would spend my pocket money on a box of Smarties and lay them all out on the table in rows of colour – eating them in order of how much I like the colour.
Martha: Do you have a favourite colour and has this changed over the years?
Carrie: I haven’t really changed my preference for colour much since my Smartie days. (Yellow and Orange being my least favorite and eaten first.) I used to work a lot with red, black, powder blue and baby pink. But now I really like working with strong bright colour’s and playing with the opposites of the colour wheel.
Martha: What is your favourite colourful object or objects and why?
Carrie: Whatever art materials I am currently working with become my favourite objects. I get lost in the colour of my work . At present I am making tiles to install at an art festival in Norway – and I am creating shades of colour by printing pattern on top of the tiles.
Martha: How does colour make you feel?
Carrie: I love colour – to see bright colours everywhere, it makes me feel happy. I do not use colour to influence but more to represent or reflect my emotions.
Martha: Do you have a colour you could happily do without?
Carrie: No – I think you need the whole spectrum of the colour wheel, you need it all. Although I do hate orange, blue and yellow together – this dislike definitely comes from having to wear this combination for my school uniform at Brentford School for Girls in the early 80’s.
Martha: What does colour mean to you in your day-to-day life?
Carrie: I work with colour all day – its what I most look forward to. I have covered the whole of the outside of my house in bright ceramic tiles- I surround myself with colour. My kids do not necessarily share this passion for colour, my eldest has always said that her home will be completely white. (as is my sisters).
Martha: You’ve started collaborating with Robert Osborne of Rebel Not Taken in the past year or so. Do you always agree when it comes to colour?
Carrie: We tend to work with mixed media and found objects – subverting them, so colour is not usually an issue. But I love Bob’s use of colour and will often seek his opinion on matter’s of colour in my larger ceramic work.
Martha: Do you think there are rules about colour? Or are rules made to be broken?
Carrie: ‘I am an artist – your rules do not apply’ is mosaic on the top of my house, so no I do not think there are rules about colour – I try to resist most rules.
Martha: Tell me a Carrie colour story.
Carrie: I used to be a nightmare as a child, I would colour in the white patches of our two King Charles Spaniels with felt tip pens. Also I was always getting into trouble for putting food colouring into my mothers cooking. I remember her being furious because I dyed all the mashed potatoes blue and the pork chops green and no one wanted to eat them. Given the chance I would add bright colour to everything- I guess not much has changed.
Martha: If you could give people advice about using colour, what would it be?
Carrie: Use more of it. The world need colour – it makes people happy.