Carmel is unpretentious, down to earth and effortlessly cool. When we meet her at Turua Gallery she is nonchalant about her recent sold out show, instead, in true artist form she can see only what she would change about each painting.
You may already be acquainted with artist Carmel Van Der Hoeven's work, or you may have seen her painting's without realising it in our latest 'Wild Garden' campaign.
We couldn't think of a better 'backdrop' to shoot a collection inspired by a wild garden, than in front of Van der Hoeven's recent exhibition 'IN CONTRAST'. We were intrigued to find out more about the artist and mother behind the paintings.
We hope you enjoy this Q+A with Carmel.
Carmel, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what led you into the art world?
I grew up in the Waikato, was always into art but never really considered it a possible career option till after my second child (he is seven now).
I sort of just started drawing and then I did some serious years as a potter and finally returned back to painting which I realised was my true love.
The whole process from stay at home mum to full time artist was not easy, I can say that much! But I feel like I am coming out the other side of the tunnel now and things are just that bit more fluid between my different jobs.
I am sure so many women can relate to that challenge! Tell us about George Sand Studio, what’s behind the name ?
George sand studio was an umbrella name, I was looking for something that was abstract enough to encompass whatever I was making without confining me to a certain style. George sand was originally the moniker for the French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin in the 18th century, I liked her life story. I felt a kinship to her after my mother suggested the name, her life is a bit too much detail for this question but I can say we both did things rather unconventionally in both our private and professional lives. I am slowly moving away from the Moniker and starting to use my own name as it feels like the right time.
You’re a multidisciplinary artist, can you tell us a bit more about the media you work with?
I started with illustration which is still available via endemic world. Currently I mostly focus on my Acrylic paintings and oil pastel drawings but I am about to go deep down the pottery wheel hole again because I host an event with my sister at her flower farm, where I provide hand made vessels for guests to fill with her flowers called Flora in clay.
Carmel adding the finishing touches to a Painting before it heads off to it's new owner.
Where do you create your work? Is it a space that inspires creativity?
I have a studio at the moment in Te Awamutu, it has frosted glass in the front where I work, 3 separate spaces and concrete floors. I am not sure if it inspires me creatively, that's more in my head but it certainly does provide me with solitude, space and drive (a desire to make enough income to pay my rent haha) I love my studio.
Pictured: Carmel and Melissa, co-owner of Turua Gallery.
How would you describe your artistic style?
That's a loaded question, ha-ha, I have found most see my statehouses and florals as different styles, but for me they are very similar, both a study of my surroundings, both colours altered, brush strokes considered, concept of time evident in shadows and mark making.
"I paint what I see and how I feel."
How long have you been creating beautiful works of art ?
My whole life! Well learning at least but have only been making illustrations and pottery for 7 years and full time painting for about 3 years.
Where do you find your creative inspiration and how do you maintain it?
I find inspiration everywhere. Our brains make creative connections in the “living of life” all the time, it's just a practice of noticing them. It could be as simple as driving and seeing weeds on the side of the road, a outfit combo or even a conversation. Maintaining it is making sure you do things outside of the art practice I think, reading, walking, trying something new.
All parts of life add to the fabric of creativity.
I love that outlook on inspiration. What’s next for you?
Flora in clay with my sister is in November, I need to make more works for galleries and shows and then the next big NZ exhibition is November 2022. Lots of other things In-between! like renovating the house, honey moon, kids, life, the list never ends!
What advice do you have for young women forging a career in the art world?
Be authentic, honest and kind to yourself, and keep putting yourself out there while striving to push your work, make it better, experiment, practice.
As a woman who has many roles, how do you balance being a mother, partner and creative?
It’s really hard, your either super women or just barely doing it all! Luckily my partner is really supportive so that helps and we have raised the kids with french parenting style rules so most of the time there is a good balance and many helping hands.
OK, time for a quickfire round….
Manet or Van Gough? Van Gogh
Paint or sculpture? Paint
Tea or coffee? Tea
What do you love most about wearing Saben?
I love the practical design that has gone into Saben's work, it's thoughtfully designed, you can tell, but what I love most is it's a NZ brand and I think Aotearoa makes some pretty amazing stuff for such a small nation.
How would you describe your personal style?
A wee bit masculine I guess and occasionally fun.
And your Saben style – What do you look for in a handbag; Do you swap out your bag or need one that does work-weekend, day-to-night?
I am swapper, and definitely a shoulder bag wearer. I think I like either small so I don't fill it with stuff or really big so I can full it with lots of stuff!
...the Coco and Carter Tote are the perfect duo for you then!
What drew you to Saben, and how does wearing/carrying it make you feel?
I enjoyed the founders interview on super creative podcasts! I feel organised wearing Saben, even if the rest of my life is chaos.
Where can people find out more about your work?
Instagram really is my only connection to the online world these days and Turua gallery does most of my representation.
Photography by Kate Battersby.