Interview with Carolyn Gavin for Toi Art Gallery

December 10, 2020

Interview with Carolyn Gavin for Toi Art Gallery


  1. You grew up in South Africa; tell us about your childhood and how it influenced your work.

Yes! It was beautiful and happy but as soon as I was older I realized that it was idyllic for some and treacherous for others. It’s a stunning country but a little bit rotten underneath. At least it was then.

It was hot and sultry with sunshine most of the year. With that came thunderstorms, intense colors, foliage, animals and exotic pattern and detail. I think all that comes out in my work and my natural sense of color is a direct result of what surrounded me as a child and young adult.

carolyn gavin blanket birds toi art gallery print

Blanket Birds limited edition print

  1. Are your parents artists?
My mum is an artist and has always been creative delving into everything from flowers to calligraphy to mono-printing. My family is creative for sure. My father is creative with money ;-)
  1. When did you start drawing?

I started drawing and painting at a very young age, maybe 3 or 4. It’s been the love of my life and a constant companion. 

carolyn gavin toi art gallery

  1. Why did you move to Canada?
I was 24 years old when I left SA and went traveling, lived in London, UK for a bit but landed permanently in Canada 1993 as most of my family was here.
  1. Your artwork uses vibrant colors, how is your relationship with color and why do you choose to work with this color palette?

I have always loved color in every aspect of my life and believe it is how I express myself in my paintings. I love bright colors and neon and I think this is how I create contrast in my work. I use colors where you wouldn’t expect which creates energy and movement within a piece. I use neons a lot, I love the playfulness of them and how they can enhance a focal point. Shapes also play a big role in my work. Stripes portray vegetation while geometric shapes represent mountains and trees, creating a psychedelic and dreamlike world. Fun!

neon tress print carolyn gavin toi art gallery

Neon Trees limited edition print

     carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints

    1. What /who inspires you?

    I’m inspired by travel mostly. I adore going to new places and seeing the world and putting this visual stimulation back into my work. I think it broadens the mind, the spirit and the creative process. Its changed lately because of the current climate so I have to rely on just the beauty that surrounds me and making my own inspiration within. It’s flowers, colors, texture, nature, walking, poetry, food, music. I think if you feed the soul, the senses are stimulated and the mind feels motivated to create beauty.

    carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints

    1. You work with surface patterns and different illustrated products, tell us more about your experience with that line of work.

    I love it when my patterns or paintings become actual objects, especially ones that are useful. Clothing has been fun with paintings and designs made into overalls, shirts and scarves. It’s an interesting way to get the work out there and onto something organic. I’ve done fabrics, housewares, books etc. It’s the commercial side of what I do. These days, I’m happiest when clients want to use existing creations that I’ve made.

    carolyn gavin prints toi art gallery

    Mushrooms and Flowers. Limited edition print.

       8. I’ve read that you picked out the paintings for your home before picking out your furniture, what was the idea behind that?

    I love original art in my home and yes I’d always spend whatever I could on paintings. They’re more important to me than furniture. They elevate the space that no couch could!

       carolyn gavin print toi art gallery

      bird flock carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints

      Bird Flock. Limited edition print.

      1. Where is home?
      I live in downtown Toronto, Canada, in a 128 year old Victorian Row House.
      1. What are you reading?

      Ingrid Newkirk – Animal Kind

      1. Has quarantine changed your work routine?

      It did initially. I had more time and also tried a lot of new things. I made mobiles, did cutouts, made little clay bowls. It was a very productive time, although filled with anxiety and worry. I needed a lot of creative distraction and also had more time due to not going anywhere.

      carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints

      1. What is your favorite subject to draw?
      I love to paint flowers and animals.

        carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints 

        1. Tell us about a crazy project you would like to do.

        I would love to do a giant mural somewhere.

        carolyn gavin toi art gallery prints 

        Karina Miller

        To see Carolyn's gorgeous limited edition prints click here

        Read Maryam Harvani interview here






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