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. As Alex Hyde, writing in the Financial Times puts it; ‘whether it’s her mother in the comfort of her home, contract cleaners or NHS midwives, Walker questions what counts as ‘women’s work’ today. Her paintings resonate with a sense of care - in her skilfulness in rendering everyday gestures, in their luminosity and compositional depth. By elevating these deeply familiar forms of labour to the status of large-scale works of art, Walker prompts us to see them anew’.


In 2020, Ingleby presented a solo exhibition, Janet. For this exhibition, Walker turned her attention to a subject close to home, creating a body of paintings where the focus was the artist’s own mother, cooking, cleaning, tidying and tending the garden of the house in the Scottish town where the artist spent her childhood. Walker, who studied at Glasgow School of Art and at the Royal College of Art in London, has recently moved back to Scotland with her young family, and for Nurture, her second exhibition at Ingleby which took place in 2024, she made a new body of work that turned its focus onto the rhythms, routines and everyday intimacies of family life. The show was comprised of oil sketches, ink drawings and oil paintings, in which we saw the women who Walker has encountered in this new phase – 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 ever, in Walker’s work the intimacy of personal reflection is all the more powerful for its universal resonance.