Meet the maker: Charles Walker

Charles Walker

Sculptor & Associate Member

Fresh from a group exhibition in Craft ACT’s lightbox gallery, Charles sat down for an afternoon chat to share more about himself and his work.

How long have you been making sculpture?

I’ve been dedicated to sculpture for 10 years, however my parents have always been encouraging of the arts. They took me to galleries, museums and classes since I was young. I took my first sculpture class in my late teens and loved it. I was always very boisterous and being able to physically incorporate myself into art made it more enjoyable.  

People’s ideas come to them while having a coffee, absentmindedly drawing, reading or researching – for this exhibition, where did your thoughts emerge from?

I was casting bronze at ANU's sculpture class (2011) and started thinking how metal and stone could be incorporated into glass. It wasn’t until my honours year (2013) that I decided to push the limits and pursue amalgamating mediums that wouldn’t traditionally work together. The added challenge of opinion that it was impossible didn't deter me, if anything, it just increased my motivation.

What materials/aesthetics does your sculpture work incorporate?

Since my honours year, I’ve continually been refining my aesthetic of glass, metal and stone and will continue to focus on the balance between the mediums. I also aim to get a better working knowledge of metal, to gain more familiarity.

Share a recent experience that’s shaped you as an artist.

Last year I had the privilege of accompanying ANU’s Richard Whitely to the Corning Museum of Glass as his Teacher’s Assistant. The two-week course in glass casting catered to a mix audience of third year art students, art teachers and established artists. It was one of the best and most memorable experiences because it was such a responsive class. Ideal in that all students were completely engaged and gave me as much respect as they gave Richard, which was greatly appreciated.

Shortly after New York, I took a four-month residency at Berlin Glas e.V. for glass casting, focusing on combining metal with glass. It was an opportunity for me to focus on experimentation, pushing what I could do with the materials and produce real outcomes I'm proud of. The learnings I took away are part of my current practice. Many of the pieces exhibited in Material Core were made at Berlin Glas.

As an artist, what’s the greatest challenge you face?

Inspiration, time and money – and having all three at once! But when it does happen, the work is prolific and incredibly satisfying.

How long does it take to create an exhibition?

It’s all relative, I work to what can fit into a kiln and work on more than one piece at a time. On average it takes four to six weeks, but there have been times when I’ve been able to turn around unfinished work prepared, polished and ready for exhibition within a week.

What is the most pertinent experience you could wish an audience to have with your work?

Knowing how to experience the work, rather than just see it. One of my sculptures was acquired at our group exhibition in lightbox gallery. The buyer later said the sculpture would be in her office, but also intended to hold it with both hands, cupping it. It was fantastic to hear as that’s exactly how I hoped people would enjoy my work.

Speaking of lightbox gallery, how was your experience?

Absolutely fantastic! I was part of a group exhibition, Material Core, with fellow makers Richilde Flavell (ceramics) and Chelsea Lemon (custom furniture and parquetry). I had resounding success with five of seven pieces being purchased. The lightbox gallery’s location in Civic provides lots of exposure and the cost was affordable. The commission rate is low, which I appreciated. We had a two-week exhibition which was ideal, so I might reserve it again in the future. I definitely recommend other members and artists to look into reserving this space for themselves or with friends.

What are next steps for you?

My next goal is to apply for a Masters, Sculpture at Alfred University in New York. It’s one of the leading New York art and design colleges and has an intriguing experimental program led by a highly respected staff cohort.

Quick Questions

  • The kind of art I like is surrealism, but I also really like contemporary for its simplicity and form.
  • My best accomplishment is can't decide on just one! Top three are 1) Being Teacher’s Assistant to Richard Whiteley, 2) Berlin Glas residency, 3) Craft ACT’s lightbox gallery.
  • Finding inspiration is chance.
  • When making, I can best be described as focused.
  • I’m most creative when I least expect it.
  • If I’m not working I’m hiking, rock climbing or doing acrobatics.