Over the past ten years Caroline Walker (b.1982) has become well known for her paintings of women, specifically, women at work in all manner of circumstances from the domestic scenarios of her own lived experience to more detached encounters in shops, cafés, offices and hotels. There’s a lineage here that connects to the domestic interiors of the Dutch Golden Age as well as to the everyday realism of Degas and Manet, the intimism of Vuillard and Cassatt, and the awkward voyeurism of Hopper. Whatever the context, Walker’s work offers the viewer a momentary glimpse into the lives of women, quietly revealing the complexities of their place in contemporary society as fleeting fragments of often invisible female labour take centre stage. Hers is a position of careful observer, drawing our attention to the often-mundane work that is instantly familiar, yet frequently unseen. 

Walker, who studied at Glasgow School of Art and at the Royal College of Art in London has recently moved back to Scotland and for this, her second exhibition at Ingleby, she has made a new body of work that turns its focus onto the rhythms, routines and everyday intimacies of family life. The show comprises oil sketches, ink drawings and oil paintings, in which we see the women who Caroline has encountered in this new phase of life – the nursery school teachers who spend their days caring for the children of others, the health worker who visits her baby son, the swimming pool teacher encouraging her daughter to swim, and – always in the background – the artist’s own mother, Janet, providing unflagging support. As always in Walker’s work the intimacy of personal reflection is all the more powerful for its universal resonance.