Caro lives a stone’s throw from Malvern. We met at our local business breakfast (at the wonderful Blue Ginger Cafe) and I’m looking forward to mooching around her studio sometime soon! We’re delighted to invite her to join our series of interviews with creative people.
Welcome, Caro. What drives your creative work?
My passion for life. It is the way I express my understanding and appreciation of both the natural world around me and my inner world. Being constantly curious about life, I feel like a scout adventuring beyond the far reaches of known territory, returning to communicate my discoveries and experiences through the language of form and light, movement and texture. Bringing a perception to physical fruition as a sculpture in iron or bronze is always exciting and fulfilling.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?
Know your goals and don’t be afraid to change those over time. If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up somewhere else. I review my goals as an artist at least once a year. It helps keep me heading towards where I would like to get to and enables me to put in place the practicalities that I need to succeed.
How do you keep creating when things get difficult?
I have a number of projects on the go at once and usually work well under the pressure of a deadline. Although things can get a little difficult at times, life is never boring – and boredom can be death to creativity! The importance is to enjoy the thing you are doing, even if difficult. Sometimes you just have to start somewhere, stay focussed and trust, and the difficulty will eventually resolve. Life moves on regardless!
How does your creative work affect the rest of your life?
My creative work is about my self-expression and is closely interwoven with who I am as a person. So as long as I keep creating I feel happy and healthy. If I don’t have a creative outlet I start to feel all gummed up. The first few years in my studio, which is a lovely converted barn, I had no effective heating, so the colder winter months I spent at home. I used to concentrate on other important aspects of my business, such as marketing, but still needed creative outlets so I’d be making preserves, writing, designing. Eventually I saw the light and had a brilliant woodburning stove installed, so now I have the opportunity to create sculpture all year round.
What is it like to send your work out into the world?
It has always been essential for me to send my work out into the world. It is my way of communicating my understanding of life to others. I have done a number of projects creating large outdoor works in iron and bronze that will persist over generations. The thought that they will be out there continuing to do their job is very heartening.
I always aim to communicate something positive and uplifting as well as thought provoking and I don’t angst about what others think about the work. People will always view something through the lens of their own life experience, what is uplifting to one person may be perceived differently by someone else. I don’t feel that I am my work, so I never feel personally rejected if it’s not to someone’s taste. Of course I’m always delighted if they love a piece, then I know it’s doing the job I intended.
What was the best advice anyone gave you?
Probably the best advice came from one of my college tutors: Work out what financial resources you need to live and find a job, probably unconnected to your art, that enables you to do that. Guard your gratuitous time diligently and use it to enjoy and explore your art. You will become better and better as an artist because you are not restrained by ‘making for a market’ just to earn the cash. You will be more fulfilled as a person and, eventually, creating your art may turn into your full time profession.
What helps you pay attention to the world?
Asking myself the question, “what is it that I need to see/understand that I am not noticing?” Our conscious minds love to jump in and join the dots to give us a solution, but, whilst enthusiastic, they are not always reliable. Our subconscious minds are more accurate! By asking myself this question it focuses me in the present and enables me to listen to my inner knowledge and see my world in greater depth and detail.
Caro Sweet was born in Aylesbury in the United Kingdom in 1960. She grew up surrounded by the fields and woodlands of rural Buckinghamshire that provided her with a deep and enduring connection to nature. It is this sense of ethereal beauty and majesty that has become the hallmark of her work.
Caro received a classical training at The Frink School of Figurative Sculpture. Notable commissions in cast iron include ‘Worship’ for Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture and ‘Indiana Visionary’ for Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum, Indiana, USA. Caro regularly undertakes private commissions in bronze.
Now living high in the Malvern Hills, Caro creates her art at her Worcestershire studio and in the USA, holding an annual Open Studio exhibition to showcase the year’s work.