Wednesday, 20 May 2015

CAREY MORTIMER - Asfodelo Dreaming

Cera una volta un piscatore II - once upon a time there was a fisherman
Wow, I've known Carey Mortimer for over 20 years. She is an artist whose work I have watched go from strength to strength - almost as if those early seedpods really were the seeds of the great work that has flowed and flowered as she continues to flourish as a painter of accomplished and astonishing skills.

Working in fresco, on gessoed board or wood or tin, often anything she can re-claim and re-use, this current exhibition by Carey at the Thackery Gallery is populated by still life and death at its most precise and fragile. From a fallen swallow to the chairs facing each other in poised stillness, there is an atmosphere of calm expectation, endurance. Here we catch glimpses of the past, perhaps fragments of paintings stolen from crumbling, forgotten chapels in the heart of Sardinia or snatches of dreams…Here seem to be objects from lives that have passed on a long, long time ago. But these are the things that are part of Carey's daily life. 
Cera una volta un piscatore II - once upon a time there was a fisherman

I heard more about this particular painting only after I had written this piece. Here's Carey:
(These chairs)"...were actually down on the local wharves, the fisherman's furniture, they sat at the chairs to mend their nets... lit by the streetlamp lights at night, with dark piles of nets and the dark river in the background, with no one around the pieces of furniture looked like something from an old master, so i painted them like that. the end of fishing in the mediterranean is near, as everywhere...i cant believe that the fisherman's sons will be able to be small scale fisherman." 

So while this sense of the past is very consciously and deliberately recorded by Carey, the sustainability is fragile, adding another layer in which poignancy folds almost seamlessly into melancholy.

Endurance III
Perhaps at the bottom of the meadow next to her house, stands a dovecote; Carey transforms it into an object spied through a painted veil, white feathers like exquisite  ghosts floating across the tiny windows, bringing movement to an already intriguing moment in time. Tiny herons nestle together confounding our sense of scale, teasing our perceptions of time and place. 

The work here has a narrative, lyrical quality and this quality, along with a mature, painterly self-assurance now sets Carey firmly at the table of truly fine artists.

Cera una volta un piscatore II - once upon a time there was a fisherman
Here is her own table, traces of past and present perfectly combined; a fisherman's hook hangs in a balanced composition with some form of ancient, translucent sea life like a memory that reaches back to the beginning of time.
And is it just that, a memory, as it seems increasingly unlikely that the old ways  of the 'small scale fishermen' will survive?

Heron Gate
Colours enhance the sense of a past warmed and often bleached by the sun; there is a richness and depth of tone not seen before in Carey's work and a decisive quality to the scenes so that the viewer is almost reminded of the adage: "a place for everything and everything in its place." Here is a harmony of vision that creates a moment of peace, of reconciliation as the here and nowness embraces the past.

Endurance II
And here we all are, it seems to say, passing through. Travellers through a life that might be many things but that will always, irrevocably, be part of the lives that have travelled before us, rooted to the soil beneath our feet, the air we breath, the objects we touch and relationships we create to comfort us. Time becomes irrelevant. We live, we sleep, we dream. What more can we hope for but to endure. 

Still and present, we remain. The children of possibility.

Carey Mortimer's new exhibition Asfodelo Dreaming is on show at the Thackeray Gallery, Kensington.

BACKGROUND information...

My first picture book - called A Possum's Tail - is a collaboration with brilliant illustrator Alex Barrow and came out 6th February 2014. A second book called London Calls! is a whistle-stop tour of London, led by a Pearly grandma and her granddaughter. London Calls! came out on 4th September 2014 and is my second book with Alex Barrow. A Possum's Tail was nominated for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
Both books are by Tate Publishing.

Please see my CURRICULUM VITAE for more details & updates.

As well as writing children's books, for children's television and two award-winning children's magazines, I do both private and commercial art commissions, a selection of which you can see here.

The children's shoes are part of an ongoing series of "first shoes", including several cards commissioned by the Almanac Gallery.

Hand-drawn, bespoke invitations, announcements, portraits and menus, such as the examples here are also available upon request..

Any enquiries please email:


I've been a regular contributor to children's art and science magazine OKIDO since 2007. HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY (WOW) beautiful Okido!

An Okido animated kids tv show, based on characters from the magazine is currently in production with Doodle/Squintopera The original adaptation of the show (co-created/adapted by myself, producer Ceri Barnes and Doodle Productions) was acquired by CBeebies. 52 x 11 minute episodes will be coming to a screen near you soon in 2015.......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............................
N E W S F L A S H! MESSY GOES TO OKIDO Series TWO is now in production, following a super-successful 52 episode first series!



Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet

Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet
Okido Cartoon Forum 2011

Happy Birthday OKIDO!

Happy Birthday OKIDO!
Okido was 5 years old this issue...the wonderful art and science magazine for kids I've been lucky enough to have worked on for the past - 8 - years now