Carrie Reichardt’s ancestry can be traced back through a long line of aristocratic eccentrics. Her grandfather, Joseph Reichardt owned estates in the Austrian Empire and was known as The Camel Hair King of America after making a fortune shipping camel hair wool from Persia via his offices in New York. He worked for the Tsar of Russia during World War I and was awarded the title of Count before fleeing the Russian Revolution. Count Reichardt was bankrupted after losing the cutting rights to all the trees on the Caspian Sea. He moved to England with three sons. The eldest became a Nuclear Scientist. The youngest was Baron Tony Von Reichardt, who prospered as an influential dealer in Modern Art in post-war London and was close friends with Francis Bacon. The second son was Carrie Reichardt’s father Roland, who became a Rigsbyesque property landlord as well as being a faith healer with a keen interest in erotica.
Carrie Reichardt gained a First Class degree in Fine Art at Leeds University and has had a career spanning many media, including film, performance and sculpture. She is perhaps best known as a ceramicist and mosaicist, working internationally on large scale public murals. A renegade who is revered in anti-establishment circles, Reichardt’s preoccupation with seditious ceramics places her within an artistic tradition extending back to William Morris.
She creates anarchic artworks where vintage floral, kitsch, royal and religious crockery is given a new twist by re-firing with layers of new ceramic decals They are modified in a “radical use of traditional things” and often adorned with skulls, cheeky slogans and political statements. Her first solo exhibition, entitled “Mad in England”, provided an exploration of this theme, which she has continued to pursue in subsequent work.
Carrie Reichardt has spoken publicly about the use of craft and art as protest and her skills have been put to good use as a vehicle for her own political activism, most notably her campaigning for prisoners on Death Row and her involvement with the fight to gain justice for the Angola 3. Despite having a rebellious streak, it is testament to her talent and vivacious personality that Reichardt was awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 2013, enabling her to work with local communities in Chile and Mexico.
Carrie Reichardt has been an outspoken advocate for using Art as a form of personal therapy and “Mad In England” is a perfect back stamp for her work. It is fitting that her house and studio in Chiswick is famously called The Treatment Rooms.
Artist, activist and anarchist Carrie Reichardt has been inspiring a revolution around the streets of Stavanger this week, find out all about it here.