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Carmen explores parallel universes and rich imaginary worlds through drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture.
Some work is painstakingly detailed, characterised by pattern and shape, and other work is highly gestural. Carmen’s diverse subjects include buildings, people, flowers, ships and ladybirds, and she uses humour that is in turn menacing and whimsical, with cartoonish renderings of historical and local characters such as Captain Cook and The Wizard of Christchurch.
After the earthquakes, Carmen’s work began to focus on distinctive Christchurch landmarks she knew well, including The Arts Centre and Christchurch Cathedral. In these works the shifting dimensions echo the destruction of the buildings in the earthquakes.
“I like dismantling buildings and blowing them all out of proportion, exaggerating them, twisting and distorting them,” Carmen says.
This work was primarily rendered in black and white, only returning to full colour some time later.
In 2006 Carmen was awarded the Novartis Astrazeneca Schizophrenia Art Award (First Prize) and in 2008 she was one of three artists featured in an episode of Artsville, a television arts documentary series. In 2019 she was awarded a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant for her solo exhibition Shapeshifter.