Our first 'Local identities' article profiles Caroline Bouquet, a French artist based in Little Bay. Caroline has lived in various places around the world, including Hong Kong where she published her book 'Hong Kong Five Senses' in 2007 − a beautiful collection that pays homage to the city she lived in for 10 years.
Caroline's Sydney diary/sketchbook 'Mapping Sydney' was published in September 2013 with the official launch taking place in the presence of the French Consul on 21 November at the Bowen Library Maroubra.
In addition to images relating to 'Mapping Sydney', the wonderful images at right have been contributed by Caroline from time to time.
'Australia Elements' book launch | 17 and 24 November
French-born artist Caroline Bouquet takes us on a meditative journey composed of cartographic sketches and narrative fragments about Sydney.
Descended from Nicolas Baudin, master cartographer for Louis XVI, Bouquet amplifies the notion of mapping by embedding topographies in layers of colour, history and meaning. The accompanying bilingual text adds another layer by exploring the duality of her experience, which veers from nostalgia and loss to discovery and catharsis.
An unmissable journey for readers who want to experience Sydney in an entirely different way. Australia Elements is a fully illustrated, beautifully crafted coffee table book. Check out 'Australia Elements' book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U70nPHl_KZc
Caroline Bouquet holds a post graduate degree in political science, and developed a successful career in private banking. However, art had always been a major part of her life, and the desire to spend more time painting grew and grew over the years.
In 1995 her husband's career saw Caroline and her family, move to Egypt. There she was fortunate to meet with a number of artists who finally inspired her to follow her passion for painting. Caroline describes this passion for painting as a sharing process – a way to express her feelings, to focus on her own personal thoughts, and to overcome the overriding feeling of being without real roots.
After two years in Egypt, Caroline's family was once again 'on the road' when her husband was transferred to Hong Kong to participate in a new project there. In Hong Kong, although returning to a role in financial services, Caroline was determined to continue her passion for painting.
It was while in Hong Kong that she joined a group of artists called Artists Abroad. Founded in 1995 by a member of the American Women's Association named Barbara Crawford, Artists Abroad was instrumental in motivating Caroline to follow her passion. Despite not being an artist herself, Barbara Crawford recognised the talent among the AWA membership, and suggested they hold an exhibition. The rest is history.
After eight years in Hong Kong, Caroline and family returned to their home town of Versailles, a suburb of Paris famous for its beautiful palace built in the 17th century by France's King Louis XIV. It was then that Caroline decided it was time to take her passion for painting to the next level. She enrolled at the Institute of Beaux-Arts. In 2011, following four years of study, Caroline graduated with a Masters Degree in painting, engraving and sculpture.
A short time later, another overseas assignment saw this globetrotting family relocate to Sydney, Australia. The whole family soon fell in love with Little Bay, and have enjoyed their life here since then. In Caroline's own words, 'I enjoy living here. I think Australia on the whole and Little Bay in particular are incredible places. The beauty and peace we enjoy here is unique.'
As a mother of four schooI-aged children, Caroline is well aware of the need for women to enjoy fulfilling lives, and not just through the children/school environment. While understanding only too well the importance of and priorities associated with family life, she firmly believes women should explore other interests and follow their passions. She's convinced that many women have interests and talents that never get the opportunity to flourish due to the absence of a place to share their passion.
This belief was the catalyst that drove Caroline to create Le Café des Artistes, which provides a platform for creative women to meet and share their passion for art. Le Cafe des Artistes supports musicians, poets, painters and other artists in pursuing their dreams, in a similar way to the encouragement Caroline received over the years to pursue hers. Without that encouragement Caroline is absolutely certain she'd not have had the confidence to produce her unique works.
Since arriving in Sydney, the distance from the world Caroline was accustomed to became a shocking reality. In the southern hemisphere, everything was unfamiliar – her usual references were no longer – north became south, and the familiar landmarks were nowhere to be seen. Caroline was eternally lost, and felt very far from her home, close family and friends. That feeling of distance evolved into a desire to explore and conquer her new surroundings.
Maps were the bane of Caroline's early life in Sydney! Wherever she went someone handed her a map – generally with the best of intentions and totally unaware of her inability to read or understand them. However, maps soon became an inspiration – she started to paint on them and with them.
'Mapping Sydney', Caroline's first Australian project is almost complete. It's a Sydney travel dairy /sketchbook – a story of where art and travel merge. 'Mapping Sydney' bridges the gap between Caroline's home in Versailles and her new life in Australia. Her paintings marry the vibrant colours of acrylic paint with info maps or marine charts, giving a new slant on some of Sydney's features and demonstrating very clearly her sense of being rootless.
Some of the paintings that shaped this project were shown at Customs House in Circular Quay in November 2012 (see images at right). 'Mapping Sydney' was published in September 2013, with the official launch taking place in November of that year.
Caroline previously collaborated with Laurence Huret on a Hong Kong sketchbook, 'Hong Kong Five Senses', which was published by MCCM in 2007. In 'Hong Kong Five Senses' Caroline's whimsical pictures are anchored by Huret's text.
Caroline is furthering her love for engraving by attending lessons at a Warringah studio. She has her own studio in Little Bay where Le Café des Artistes provides a monthly forum for artists to meet and for ideas to bloom.
Thanks to local resident Cecilia King for coming up with the idea for a section on interesting local people, and for introducing Caroline Bouquet to the Prince Henry Community Web. Cecilia worked with Caroline over an extended period before submitting a final draft for editing prior to publication. Editor: Susan Graham
If you've any questions for Caroline, or would like to comment on her work, please complete the feedback form below.