Five minutes with Carolyn Cardinet

Carolyn 2.jpg

Passionate about environmental sustainability, French born and Melbourne based experimental artist Carolyn Cardinet, has amassed an extensive body of works reflecting these values and addressing global consumerism. Carolyn’s multi media installations employ the use of reclaimed material to challenge and reconsider our responsibility towards over consumption and unwanted waste. In 2017 Carolyn founded the Sustainability Art Lab to spread waste awareness through educational programs in schools worldwide for students of all ages. She is also an art facilitator for the City of Yarra, organising exhibitions, tours and informative talks focused on our social impact on the environment. 


Anouska & Co: Can you give a summary of your experience as an experimental artist?

Carolyn Cardinet: From the age of seven I wanted to be an artist, so I studied art subjects through my junior years before going on to study graphism at college in Paris. A few years later when I settled in Australia, I took up art studies again with Peter Churcher, a world renowned artist who is recognised as one of the leading exponents of figurative painting in Australia. I followed this up with a bachelor’s degree at VCA. My time with Peter Churcher somewhat influenced my artistic vision as a realistic painter to become an abstract painter. I also enjoyed playing with different and unusual objects during my Master of Fine Art studies at RMIT University.


A&Co: Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up?

CC: I grew up in the 3rd arondissement of Paris, France during my primary school years, then we moved to the 12th arondissement for my secondary and diploma years. I studied a diploma of graphism, however after graduating I never really wanted to work in that field. Instead, I worked in the fashion industry, for Givenchy and Dior, over the summer. After that I worked at Pierre Cardin selling haute couture made to measure fashion to a wealthy English speaking clientele. I then set off travelling and discovering Australia, and I never looked back!


A&Co: What do you like about what you do? 

CC: I love the freedom and process of the journey as an artist. I think you have to be a very curious and extremely passionate person to become an artist. You will spend hours studying your subject, in fact you will spend far more time researching then making art. That preparation is part of the process.


A&Co: What do you find challenging?

CC: My art practice explores human consciousness and relationships regarding single use plastic consumerism and wastes’ impact on our environment and waterways. My passion for sustainability and finding ways to communicate this through my art is a continual challenge. I’m continuously searching for new ways to explore the crossover of science as fact and art as representation. 


A&Co: What’s been the most rewarding aspect?

CC: The most rewarding experience as an artist is seeing people get excited about my work. My mission is to create awareness through my art and by using reclaimed materials in my large installation works, my aim is for people to address their own behaviours towards our environment. Witnessing the penny drop for people gives me enormous satisfaction. 


A&Co: How did you become an advocate for waste awareness? 

CC: Ten years ago, I noticed plastic appearing more readily on a beach I had been walking on for the last 25 years. 

I gleaned, gathered and collected multiple plastic objects and now these materials are at the core of my art practice. Single use plastic packaging allows me to construct and transform the waste into other forms and give them a new meaning. The result is an insight into consumerism and waste on the environment.


A&Co: What are some easy things everyday people can do to reduce waste?

CC: Perhaps the easiest way people can reduce waste is to replace plastic bags with cloth or hessian bags. Although supermarkets have stopped offering single use plastic bags, there are still bags that can be bought for 15 cents that end up in the street after only being used once or twice. It’s up to the general public to remember to bring reusable bags shopping with you. 

There are a number of other easy ways we can reduce waste, like replacing plastic straws with reusable bamboo or metal ones. When you get your morning coffee, bring your own metal cup with you. Contrary to popular belief, takeaway coffee cups are rarely recycled or composted due to inadequate industrial composting facilities and the difficulty of getting the waste products there. 

The same also applies to plastic water bottles, which are awful for both the environment and your health. Drinking water out of plastic, disposable bottles can expose us to potentially harmful chemicals and cause serious health issues. Instead, use a tall metal cylindrical cup that can also double as a coffee cup. Metal is a great insulator for keeping whatever is inside hot or cold. Plastic can’t do that!

I also recommend replacing plastic containers with glass jars or tubs with a lid to store food. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s better for your health too.


To learn more about Carolyn and her work, see the links below:

Emma Bartlett