• Caroline Rothwell, born 1967, Hull, England is a visual artist living and working on Gadigal and Bidjigal Country. Photo by Stuart Spence. 

  • Carbon Emission 5, Constructivist Rococo (still), 2020, installation view, The National 2021: New Australian Art, single-channel digital video, loop, photo: Felicity Jenkins

  • Caroline Rothwell, Habit, 2015, emission on wall, photo S Brandenberg/Temple University

Thursday, 16 March 2023

The forms of flora and fauna, weather systems and inky carbon have all inspired artist, Caroline Rothwell, who joins the 2023 Environmental Art and Design Prize judging panel.

“I’ve been thinking about humanity’s impact on the planet for a while now,” Rothwell says. 

As the annual Environmental Art & Design Prize (EADP) opens to artists and designers Australia-wide this week, we sat down with this fascinating artist to ask her why she believes taking part in the EADP is so worthwhile.

“I come from a family background with industrial chemistry and thinking about the polluting effects of agriculture chemicals on one side, and street botany and plant knowledge on the maternal side. So, it seems to have seeped into my work conceptually and materially,” Rothwell says.

Since she started work in the 1990’s, her multidisciplinary, research-driven practice has taken her all over the world. She has consistently created work that considers how ideologies and beliefs have shaped contemporary society. Her works are beautiful and intriguing, but they don’t shy away from exploring human interaction with nature throughout history and its impacts on the planet.

“Artists and designers can be fast responders and nimble communicators as society shifts,” she explains. “They can give voice to complex ideas in innovative ways, that can spark dialogue.

“They can be at the forefront of systematic changes in thinking around things like the use and re-use of materials and sustainable working practices,” Rothwell says.

In one of her ongoing projects, Rothwell uses carbon emissions to make large-scale wall drawings. Painted by hand, she takes the residue of fossil fuel and mixes it with a binding agent to create a type of paint. Rothwell even scrapes the soot from different car exhaust pipes to produce different colours.

Now as a judge for the 2023 EADP, Rothwell says the sheer breadth of the Award is inspiring.

“It’s exciting to witness people’s energy and innovative processes in this socially engaged space and it’s great that it's a multi-disciplinary event where we get to see complex ideas in so many forms from all age groups,” Rothwell says.

Her job as judge, alongside industrial designer Adam Goodrum and First Nation’s curator Emma McDaniel, is to select finalists across nine categories.

To learn more about Caroline Rothwell and the judges click here and to view more details on the Northern Beaches Environmental Art and Design Prize, recommend a friend, or to sign up for to Creative News click here.

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