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House of Coco Interview - Journeying Through Symbolism: An Artistic Exploration With Carmen Delprat

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the captivating world of Carmen Delprat, an artist whose work transcends conventional boundaries, weaving a mesmerising tapestry of fine art, surrealism, and symbolism.

Carmen generously shares the profound influences that have shaped her artistic journey, from pivotal childhood memories to the educational pursuits that have honed her skills.

Spirituality plays a significant role in Carmen's creative process, infusing her work with a deeper sense of purpose and connection to nature. Her art becomes a conduit through which she channels her spiritual essence, inviting viewers to experience beauty and profound meaning.

Join us on this insightful journey into the mind and artistry of Carmen Delprat, where each stroke on canvas becomes a brushstroke in the vivid narrative of her life and the captivating world she creates...

Can you share a pivotal moment from your childhood that you believe strongly influenced your passion for art and your fascination with beach landscapes and shells?

A childhood memory that started my passion with the experimental side of art making harked back to my at Lambton Primary School. I was very young and I can vividly recall our art teacher's guidance on watercolour techniques and washes. Following these instructions of pushing the paint across the page and blending the colours, I embarked on creating a painting that I simply titled “The Big Tree." This painting was entered in the 1977 Silver Jubilee competition and to my astonishment, I emerged as the winner!

This victory marked the beginning of my artistic journey, with trees becoming my initial focus. However, it was my father who gently urged me to explore other subjects beyond trees. He played a pivotal role in nurturing my love for the beach, rocks, and seashells. He would often take my sister and I to the beach, where we would spend quality time exploring the rugged coast, listening to the crash of waves and basking in the warmth of the Australian summer. My mother, fair-skinned, preferred to avoid the sun, so these beach outings were a special father-daughter experience.

The fascination with seashells emerged during these seaside adventures, with each shell representing a treasure waiting to be discovered. What began with common seashells gradually evolved into an exploration of exotic shells from around the world. To nurture this hobby my family sought out various shell shops, each comparable to a candy store filled with a diverse array of shells. I particularly remember a shell shop in the Salamander Bay area near Nelson Bay, which left an indelible impression on me.

The joy of collecting seashells continued into my adulthood, and my home is adorned with a myriad of shells, each with its unique story. In retrospect, my artistic journey is a combination of my childhood memories and the milestones of my experiences. These moments from my local surroundings have become the essence of my artistic narrative, an exploration of the beauty of the natural world and the treasures it holds.

Your artistic journey spans various educational experiences, from a Bachelor of Visual Arts to a Masters of Fine Art. How have these academic pursuits shaped your creative process and the themes you explore in your work?

I achieved my first two degrees, a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a Post Graduate straight after high school. It was six years later while living in Sydney the concept of time became an inspiration to me and that’s when I decided to study for a Masters Degree. The Newcastle University offered me a scholarship, so I returned to Newcastle and began my research.

During the time in between these degrees I also took art classes at the Julian Ashton School of Art at the Rocks Sydney where my cousin Paul Delprat is the principle. This is where I really learnt to explore the techniques of fine art and how to ensure the structural framework of anything you are drawing is correctly proportioned. One can not draw a face and start at the eye and hope for the best, unless distortion is what you are wanting to achieve.

I had also worked for a production and promotional company in Crows Nest Sydney (A’Couple of Cowboys), who produced the award winning and international selling video board game “Atmosfear”, so I had plenty of practice drawing and what I produced had to be 100% top quality. Filed with these experiences, I took on these expectations with my own work while studying again, working as hard for myself as I had for the production company.

Undoubtedly these experiences have helped shift my practice and refined my skills. My thesis for my Masters Degree was on the concept of time. (Time and the Visual Arts). Shells started to become a focal point in my work due to my research on the professor of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London, Professor David Bohm, who explains that the symbol of the nautical shell embodies the concept of time. "The spiral is a visual symbol of time which is neither linear nor cyclical, but a dynamic synthesis of both that combines forward movement with the cyclical contingencies of life. The spiral has a history coiled within it, making present the traces of the past. In a sense the whole development of the shell is present”. The notion of time and how we experience it has always fascinated me and it is still a part of my work today.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Look to the Sky” Oil painting.

The Australian beach landscape seems to hold a special place in your heart and art. Can you delve into how the beach environment specifically inspires your creativity and finds expression in your paintings and illustrations?

Most artist paint or draw what is around them, Newcastle offers me a playground of cliff heads, beaches and natural bush tracks and an enormous variety of beautiful birds. I can soak in these familiar visuals and my imagination reinterprets them, adding my personal signature. I feel very lucky to live here in Newcastle NSW and I want to share this with others through my art. The beach is the heart for many who live here. I have walked numerous times from Merewether Beach to Bar Beach most of my life so you could say that this coastline is imprinted in my subconscious.

The colours in this landscape are mostly vivid, the mood is dynamic with the sounds of the crashing large waves and the screams of random seagulls that periodically fill the sky above with movement, darting overhead adding an energised motion in the deep blue atmosphere. This blissful landscape conjures up many feelings and memories of living here, ultimately it is a place of escapism. This reinvigorating ambience is something I wish to share with others through my artistic interpretations.

Your work seamlessly blends oil painting and illustration. Could you elaborate on how these mediums complement each other in your artistic expression, and how you decide which medium to use for a particular piece?

These mediums are both so lovely to work with and they are really two distinct art forms. They can complement each other in several ways.

Both styles can lead themselves to narrative storytelling. Illustration often involves creating imagery to convey a concept or story, these storytelling abilities can benefit when creating a narrative-driven oil painting, helping me represent more complex ideas and emotions.

Both styles include colour theory and colours can influence our moods. This knowledge can be a leverage in oil painting to create visually engaging works. Illustration naturally works closely with meticulous detail and this approach I have found transfers to refining symbols and ideas in my oil painting. With my recent series of work, I have started using illustration techniques with portraits and oils with landscapes. I have continued with this method only to create a strong body of work using these art forms. Once I believe I have captured enough of these portraits in pencil, I do desire to start painting my portraits in the future. By embracing the complementary aspects of illustration and old painting I hope to expand my creative horizons and produce more captivating and diverse artworks. Currently, I am working on a new series of large oil paintings of landscapes to expand my collection.

Carmen Delprat Art: “See Breeze” Oil painting.

The use of exotic shells in your portraiture is intriguing. What symbolism do these shells hold for you, and how do they contribute to the narratives within your artwork?

Shells hold multiple symbolisms as do most objects. On one level the symbolism behind these shells delves deeply into the narrative of inner strength. The outer beauty of the shell parallels the outer facade of individuals, masking a strong, resilient core. The endurance of shells against the crashing waves mirrors our resilience in the face of life's trials. These symbols underscore the concept that just as shells remain intact despite tumultuous waves, we too possess an inherent strength to withstand life's challenges, emerging more robust and liberated from the experience. I am hoping that this message may resonate with viewers, showcasing that our ability to weather adversities and connect with both our inner strength and the enduring power of nature across all stages in life.

On a deeper level, the inclusion of these exotic shells in my portraiture serves as a profound symbol, not only of inner strength but also of the art of listening and intuition. The shell’s representation goes beyond resilience, embodying an emblem of deep connection with nature and heightened intuition. Through the incorporation of the shell into the portrait, I aim to merge these elements, portraying not only the resilience in the face of life’s adversities but also the ability to listen, learn and become more attuned to the rhythms of nature. This fusion in my art symbolises an individual’s journey towards embracing inner strength while harmonising with the wisdom and instincts found in the natural world.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Black Murex Trance” Illustration.

Your art is described as symbolic, dream-like interpretations. Can you share a specific artwork where you feel you successfully captured the allegory of the natural world and translated it into a dream-like representation?

I am hoping that my viewers can identify the dream-like qualities of my work with the use of symbols that convey a hidden meaning.

My current collection explores these themes with elements of realism and incongruous imagery that elevate the familiar with the fantastical. It is through the use of multiple layered imagery, juxtaposition, morphing and displacement that the artworks become dreamlike. Whether the works are landscapes or portraits, my signature style includes combinations of unexpected objects, highlighting their innate differences and similarities to achieve not only appealing aesthetics but thought provoking compositions.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Driftwood Trace” Illustration.

Nature, especially trees and the beach, seems to be a recurring theme in your art. How do these elements represent or symbolise aspects of the human experience in your work?

The interconnectivity of the human experience with my interpretation of nature and various trees, exotic shells and seascapes has several symbolic representations.

The symbolism of trees speak an internal language of connectivity: Trees are deeply rooted in the earth and stretch toward the sky. They can symbolise the interconnectedness of all living things and the human desire for both grounding and aspiration. Trees represent stability and endurance. In the face of adversity, humans seek stability and the strength to weather life’s storms. Trees often symbolise growth and change. They go through seasons of blossoming and shedding leaves, which can mirror the cycles of life, personal development and transformation.

To create harmony is to have appeal. Appeal is something that speaks to us and that is where connection can happen. To strengthen this appeal I use alluring textures and colours of exotic shells. Shells are often used to represent the idea that beneath the surface, there is more to discover. This can relate to the complexity of human emotions and experiences that may not be immediately visible. The beach, where the land meets the sea can be interpret as a symbol of transition. It can represent the threshold between different phases of life. The horizon at the beach represents the unknown and the limitless possibilities that life offers. It can symbolise human hope and the pursuit of dreams.The beach is often associated with relaxation and reflection. It can symbolise the need for rest and self-discovery in the midst of life’s demands.

The use of these symbols may convey a sense of the cyclical nature of human experiences, the interplay between protection and vulnerability, and the beauty of embracing change and growth. These symbols can invite viewers to contemplate the universal aspects of the human journey and the emotional landscapes that shape our lives. These themes ideally are designed to evoke connection, relaxation, stimulate curiosity and bring hope and remind us of our inner strength and the need for growth and transformation.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Entangled” Illustration.

Your approach to art involves capturing the intangible ideas and internal languages. How do you navigate the balance between the tangible and intangible in your compositions, and what challenges do you face in translating internal experiences onto canvas or paper?

Translating my internal experiences into art is an intensely personal and transformative journey, one that profoundly influences my work. When I am completely immersed in my work I call this the blue hour, it is when time is irrelevant and the love for my art takes form. This process entails an exploration of self expression, experimentation, personal growth, and even moments of intuition that guide new directions.

The delicate balance between capturing the tangible and intangible is achieved through the intricate use of symbolism, harmoniously interwoven with multiple layers of imagery within a single composition. For instance, my exotic shell portraits are designed to encapsulate the internal languages of intuition, achieved through the placement of shells that subtly merge with the portrait. Much like the act of picking up a seashell and listening to the ocean-like sounds within, this symbolic gesture represents the act of tuning in to nature and accessing the knowledge and wisdom that enables us to access levels of higher guidance.

Challenges naturally arise with each new work, presenting opportunities for problem-solving and decision-making as the art evolves. However, I embrace these challenges as a crucial part of the artistic process, serving to refine the final outcome. Ultimately, my goal is to convey to the viewer that these works hold deeper symbolic values and offer a connection between beauty and profound meaning in our everyday lives, inviting them to explore the intangible through the tangible.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Arachne” Illustration.

The interplay of femininity, grace, and strength is evident in your figurative and portrait drawings. Could you discuss the creative process behind infusing these qualities into your artwork, especially when incorporating unexpected juxtapositions?

The creative process behind infusing femininity, grace and strength into my artwork, especially when incorporating unexpected juxtapositions, is an instinctive journey. The interplay of these qualities is a central theme in my figurative and portrait drawings, serving as a bridge to communicate hidden meanings to the audience.

To start, I seek aesthetically appealing elements that I can incorporate into my art. I engage in brainstorming sessions to envision possible compositions to amalgamate these ideas. Often, this initial exploration leads to more developments, forming the basis for a small body of work that I’m eager to explore further.

With my female portraits, you’ll find a distinct sense of graceful charm. These subjects are both isolated, yet connected with nature, which adds depth to their representation. Their poise exudes stillness, while the swirling, twisted lines that surround them suggest movement and rhythm. These lines symbolise the intangible energies that envelop us, they could be associated with the never ending movement of time, highlighting the balance between stillness and motion of being in the present moment, that is continuously shifting into the past.

Interestingly, sometimes I don’t fully understand the meaning of my work until it’s completed. It’s in retrospect that I realise the deeper lessons that each piece imparts. My art often conveys the idea of staying grounded, maintaining resilience and remaining open, even in the face of unexpected challenges.

The incorporation of unexpected juxtapositions, such as circuitous tree roots or elaborate shells, adds a layer of mystery to my art. These juxtapositions create an aesthetic union that speaks to me on a profound level. They later reveal a deeper message of acceptance and the resilience to make the most of the circumstances one faces in life.

In essence, my creative process is a blend of artistic exploration, aesthetic choices and a deep connection to the themes of femininity, grace, strength and unexpected juxtapositions. It is through this process that my unique artwork comes to life, inviting viewers to discover the hidden meanings within each piece that they can discover for themselves.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Siratus, Echoes from the Deep”, illustration.

Art is often considered a form of self-expression and exploration. How has your art evolved over the years, and what significant shifts or discoveries have you experienced in your creative journey?

Art serves as a powerful means of self-expression and exploration and my journey has been a testament to this. Each new creation embodies a unique form of self-expression, serving as a canvas for the experimentation of different mediums and techniques. As I delve into my creative process, I've come to understand that artistic growth is a result of countless hours of dedication and an intrinsic desire to want to create.

The evolution of my art is similar to a visual diary, capturing various chapters of my life. The themes I choose to focus on are not only reflective of my emotions but also driven by my curiosity. Along this journey, I've made profound discoveries, such as the importance of allowing my emotions and experimentation to surface within my work. Trusting the creative process, free from the fear of making mistakes, has been a liberating realisation. It's in these moments of creative risk taking, mostly with my compositional ideas, that my art ventures into new forms of expression

The use of the medium also can take on a life of it’s own. One may have an idea of what one intends the image to look like, however the way the medium is used can venture into new ways of representation.

Time has become a motivating force in this process, reminding me of the patience required for artistic mastery.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Rose Murex Dreaming” Illustration.

Your work aims to provoke psychological connections within viewers. Is there a specific emotional response or realisation that you hope your audience experiences when they engage with your art?

The primary goal of my artist journey is to ignite profound psychological connections within the viewers. I strive to evoke specific emotions and realisations when individuals engage with my art, ultimately reconnecting them with the beauty of nature.

The foundation of my approach lies in the notion that visual appeal creates a sense of harmony. I believe that aesthetics play a crucial role in how we feel and it is my intention to make my work as aesthetically appealing as possible. Through the careful use of colours and dream-like imagery, I aim to offer viewers a respite from the fears and worries that often permeate our world. I want my art to be a source of beauty and a celebration of the joy of living, providing aesthetically stimulating experiences.

On a deeper psychological level, I utilise a fusion of various symbols in my work with the hope of establishing a profound connection with the audience. These symbols are carefully selected to elicit specific emotions and realisations, inviting viewers to rekindle their bond with nature and rediscover the innate beauty that surrounds them. My ultimate aspiration is for my art to serve as a catalyst for thought and emotion, fostering a renewed appreciation for the natural world and its inherent allure.

Can you share a specific technique or method you employ in your oil paintings that you find particularly gratifying or challenging, and how it contributes to the overall texture and depth of your artwork?

Oil painting holds multiple techniques however, I enjoy working with this medium by firstly blocking in the overall background, leaving areas I know I want to remain white. This is a technique that one can also achieve with pencil or watercolour. It ensures the whites are as luminous as possible and by adding zinc white the brilliance is even better.

Recently I am using relatively large canvases so I can allow the full swing of my arm to guide the direction of the line that forms the various shells or twisting lines. I really love the blending ability that oils allows as the paint remains wet for a number of days.

Mixing on the palette as well as on the canvas seems to work with my ideal intentions. I am finding mixing my oils with various blending mediums allows for lasting gliding brush strokes, this is working well in my latest landscape painting that I am hoping to have finished by the end of the year.

Carmen Delprat Art: “The Trapezium Conch Chime”, illustration.

Many artists find inspiration in the intersection of art and spirituality. How does spirituality, if at all, influence your creative process and the themes you explore in your art?

Spirituality undeniably plays a significant role in shaping both my creative process and the themes I explore in my art. Take, for instance, the seashells that often feature prominently in my work – these aren't merely exquisite ocean treasures; they hold profound spiritual meaning. When we find shells, they are often weathered or chipped, much like life itself. They serve as a reminder that imperfection is part of our journey and it's our perseverance that guides us through life's challenges. The healing energy they exude encourages us to move forward with courage and determination.

In the realm of art-making, there's a fascinating synergy between technique, cognitive decision-making and intuition. This intuitive aspect, which transcends conscious thought, seems to originate from a deeper spiritual plane. It's akin to the inner voice that guides us in everyday life, influencing our choices and actions. When I'm in the creative flow, this connection becomes a driving force, sparking initial ideas and impacting the outcome of my work.

Dreams also serve as a window into our inner selves, connecting us with our higher selves in a state of calm or rest. In this alpha state, symbols and themes merge and transform, providing inspiration and direction for the next creative endeavour. Much like life's unexpected twists that redirect our path, art often takes on a life of its own, steering one in unforeseen directions. It's an organic, intuitive journey and embracing this flow often leads to the most rewarding artistic outcomes.

I believe that at our core, we are vibrating energy entities connected to a higher spiritual self. This intrinsic connection naturally emanates through my work, infusing it with a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. In the end, art is a powerful conduit through which we channel our spiritual essence, allowing it to manifest in captivating and thought-provoking ways.

The impermanence of life and nature is a central theme in your work. How do you think your art contributes to conversations about environmental awareness and the importance of reconnecting with nature in today's world?

Perhaps my latest oil painting “Tempest of Change” may contribute to conversations about environmental awareness. The twisting swirling powerful lines in the stormy sky indicate atmospheric changes are about to occur. While the landscape may seem unaltered from where we stand, the climate we inhabit is undergoing a powerful transformation that is in motion and brewing. Ultimately these ideas may provoke conversations reflecting on the reality that as humans, we are ultimately subjects to the forces of Mother Earth and the way we use our time on this planet will have profound consequences. It is important that we understand our role in these natural shifts.

Nature can be very beautiful, fiercely powerful and at times very cruel. On a subtle level, we are all aware of climate change as there are four seasons in a year, so the planet is always showing us change. We go from the best of everything to more sobering times. It would be hard not to notice the extreme changes here in Australia, as it seems to be either burning or flooding. For all those who have fallen victim to these tragic natural disasters, I truly empathise. I guess this is where I am starting to bring in some of these themes into my work. Whether they be more peaceful or more extreme, I hope that my audience will enjoy what I have captured. Mostly my work relates to being in the present moment as this is really all we have and this too will change.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Tempest of Change” Oil on Canvas.

Your art is described as a fusion of fine art, surrealism, and symbolism. How do these genres intersect in your work, and what do you believe this fusion brings to the art world that is unique and significant?

The fusion of fine art, surrealism and symbolism in my work creates a distinctive perspective that I believe contributes a unique value to the art world as the role of the artist is ultimately to show different ways of seeing. I bring a different view point that I hope my audience can connect with, love and also be inspired by.

The foundation of my work is built through the years of fine art practice, the educational experiences that has allowed me to develop skills and techniques and path my own interpretation of conventional practices.

My interest and research in surrealism has allowed me to play with several surrealist techniques in my own unique way. Experimenting with unrelated combinations of objects has provided a solid structure to my creations. I intentionally blur the lines between reality and fantasy, creating a sense of transformation that invites viewers to delve into a dreamlike realm, yet retaining an air of elegance. Deliberately using the surrealist technique of displacement of everyday objects into metaphors and symbols, transcending their typical representation serves as a means of engaging the audience's imagination and challenging their preconceptions.

Symbolic imagery is another vital component of my work. It serves as a language to convey hidden emotions, thoughts, or elements. These symbols add layers of depth to the art, allowing for interpretation and exploration beyond the surface. The paradoxical use of gravity, as seen in the large shell headpieces, defies the laws of physics and logic. Some of these shells morph into the portrait, while others create a sense of balance on the women's heads, evoking a free-associative experience.

Ultimately, this fusion of fine art, surrealism, and symbolism is a thought-provoking journey into the extraordinary and the subconscious. It challenges the conventional boundaries of art and invites viewers to explore new dimensions of perception and imagination, offering a fresh and significant perspective to the art world.

Carmen Delprat Art: “Queen Cassis Cornuta”, illustration.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

To explore Spain would be at the top of my list as I must see the extraordinary world of Salvador Dali’s Surrealist museum. That would be amazing.

Where can our readers follow you and find out more?

Anyone who may be interested in exploring more of my work can visit my website at or IG and Facebook. My art may not be for everyone, but it is everything to me.


Art in Progress for you to Explore!

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