Photo of Carys Wilson
Photo: Ellen Kydd

Born 1976, Leicester, UK. Lives and works in Penzance, Cornwall, UK.

The subject of Wilson’s creative practice is her physical and emotional experience of running and walking in the landscape. ‘The nature of the self can only be understood through walking’ (Andrews, Kerri Wanderers). Wilson’s use of traditional materials connects her to her paintings and to nature. The physical exertion of disciplined and daily exercise, alongside the domestic work of grinding and blending gesso, pigments and egg tempera, filters into the shapes and marks she makes when drawing. In a wider sense she explores her own female experience, by pushing her body physically and emotionally, as her paintings become direct responses to, and memories of, her relationship with the landscape.

Handmade egg tempera, oil paint and traditional gesso, although time consuming to prepare, are tactile surfaces to work on and paint with. The smooth gesso, once sanded and polished, becomes a delicate and precious surface, even though it has undergone a rigorous process to build up the many layers. The preparation of surfaces and paint becomes a ritual at the start of each working day, greeting her materials before the painting begins.

Wilson is engaged with the physical process of making a drawing: observing, decision making, mark making, erasing, layering, dissolving. Excited by the time experienced in a drawing, a palimpsest, Wilson seeks a balance between scrutinizing a form, and building up webs of lines, marks and mistakes that can be covered or uncovered. Wilson’s practice stems from a background of academic drawing of the figure both in life class and studio settings. Constantly looking, for detail, for a whole shape, for a simplification, Wilson is excited by the accumulative process of making a drawing; lines that are crucial and then become superfluous as the drawing evolves, and she starts to look more carefully. Working directly from observation has always remained central to her practice, yet she began to find a frustration in working from the model, of drawing an anonymous body placed a long distance from her and her charcoal. The artist seeks a greater connection, not with the model, but with herself, a visual conversation that needs something more personal. The experiential side of making a drawing is becoming increasingly important, turning towards herself as a starting point.

Wilson is inspired by the layering process inherent to drawing. A drawing becomes an architectural dig, a web of lines and marks, evidence of time spent looking and re-evaluating. Many marks remain, some disappear, others become ghosts underneath. They become a spatial map of the time spent within a drawing. The artist wants to see mistakes, to see the decision making process, to see the honesty and human qualities in a drawing. She wants to see what is happening underneath a surface.

Wilson enjoys the muted colours of her locality, the grey blue of granite against the grey green of the sea, and the purple grey smudges of the sky. Crepuscular colours and dissolving shapes at the peripheries of each day, especially at dawn, have an impact on her visual work.

Wilson has a background in school-based artist residencies and teaching, working predominantly in secondary, higher and further education, and adult learning settings. She has taught both full time and in a peripatetic capacity, facilitating projects in community environments for all ages and abilities, alongside clients with visual, physical and learning impairments. Her workshops have a strong emphasis on developing drawing skills.

Working from her studio on the outskirts of Penzance in West Cornwall, Wilson is currently a recipient of Cultivator Cornwall EU funding. 

Exhibitions & Residencies

2023 Upcoming group show at Gallery Gwyn, Aberaeron, mid Wales     

2022 Cornwall Cultivator Graduate Program

2022 Teaching and workshops at Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance     

2022 Walking and Thinking, Thinking and Walking. Solo show, Jupiter Gallery, Newlyn                 

2022 MA Fine Art group shows, School of Art, University of Aberyswtyth, Wales                             

2022 Cornwall Open Studios

2022 Group show, International Women’s Day, Radnorshire Museum, Llandrindod Wells

2021 Recipient of European Opportunities Fund travel grant, Bosa Art School, Sardinia                                                                      

2018 Artist in Residence, Riu d’Arte, Riba-roja d’Ebre, Catalunya

2018 Cornwall Open Studios and Group Exhibition, Circa 21, Penzance 

2015 Falmouth Intensives, Falmouth College of Art         

2014 Group Show, Ocmundtune Creative Arts, Okehampton, Devon

2008 Artist in Residence, Exeter Library, Devon
2008 The Affordable Art Fair, Penryn, Cornwall
2008 The Square picture show, Broomhill Art Hotel, North Devon
2008 The Great Create 2008, Greenway National Trust, South Devon
2008 Women’s Art Show 2008, Fairfields Arts Centre, Basingstoke
2007 Artist in Residence, Group show, Blue Elephant Gallery, Revolving Doors Theatre, Camberwell
2007 Solo show, Ondaatje Hall, Blundell’s School, Devon
2007 Lead artist for The Big Draw event, Crediton Arts Centre, Devon
2007 ‘Ela Ela’ Group show, ‘La Viande’ Gallery, Shoreditch, London
2007 ‘Ela Ela’ Group shows, Panicos Mavrellis Gallery, Limassol,
Lemba Studios, Paphos, Cyprus
2007 Recipient of Leonardo da Vinci European Union funding
2006 Christmas Show, Lemba Studios Gallery, Cyprus College of Art
2004 ‘Windows’ Falmouth based site specific exhibition
2004 Artist in Residence, Sherborne School, Sherborne
2004 ‘SITE04’ Group show, Stroud Valleys Artspace, Ruskin Mill
2003 Artist in Residence, Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee
2003 Artist in Residence, Blundell’s School, Tiverton
2002 ‘Drawing the Line’ solo exhibition, Octopus Gallery
2000/02 Artist in Residence, Friends’ School, Saffron Walden
2001 Cyprus College of Art Summer School, Paphos, Cyprus
2000 Solo show, Chromos Gallery, Canterbury, Kent
2000 ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’ The Pheonix Gallery, Brighton
2000 ‘Evanescent’ George’s House Gallery, Folkestone
2000 ‘Body Art’ George’s House Gallery, Folkestone
1999 Open Exhibition, The Herbert Read Gallery, K.I.A.D., Canterbury


2022 MA Fine Art University of Aberystwyth 

2022 Museum and Gallery Education and Interpretation, University of Aberystwyth

2007 Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art and ASET Post-16 Teaching Award. Cyprus College of Art                             
2006 Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Secondary Art) University of Exeter                 

1999 BA (Hons) Fine Art Kent Institute of Art and Design