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A market in Kairouan

circa 1919-circa 1920


Ethel Carrick

England, Australia

07 Feb 1872 – 17 Jun 1952

  • Details

    circa 1919-circa 1920
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas
    38.0 x 46.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Signed l.l 'CARRICK FOX'/ Not dated.

    Purchased with the support of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales through the Elizabeth Fyffe Bequest 2021
    South Building, ground level, 20th-century galleries
    Accession number
    Image © Art Gallery of New South Wales

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Ethel Carrick

    Works in the collection


  • About

    In 1911, the English-born painter Ethel Carrick travelled to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria with her Australian husband Emanuel Phillips Fox. Carrick had been a student at the Slade School in London, where she had trained in life painting, but after settling in Paris in 1905 she turned her attention to outdoor subjects. She excelled as a plein air artist, painting in the gardens of Paris and coastal resorts of France in the summer. Inspired by the spontaneity of life around her, she painted with impressionist-inspired abbreviated brushstrokes, creating sketch-like colour compositions describing the dynamic movement of the everyday.

    Carrick travelled to North Africa with Phillips Fox "determined to get some settled sunlight." Both may have been drawn by the perceived 'exoticism' of the region to European eyes, but it was the distinct luminosity and glowing white landmarks of its cities that propelled her. Through such stimulus, Carrick created some of the most vital and experimental paintings of her career, and an exceptional body of compositions based around light-infused colour.

    Carrick returned to Tunisia soon after she was widowed, in the winter of 1919–20, when she spent time in Kairouan. 'A market in Kairouan' demonstrates a developing modernist approach in her painting. The work was inspired by Carrick's experiences in the city, historically a great centre of Islamic culture, whose entry until French occupation in the early 1880s had been restricted to Muslims.

    Rather than fuelling the well-versed European notion of a 'forbidden East', Carrick draws on the everyday, painting the energy and activity of the marketplace. Painted from a high vantage point, with short, pulsating brushstrokes of colour and white pigment she populates the composition with simplified, rythmic forms, making palpable the bustle of the marketplace with an effect that hovers between abstraction and figuration. While rich in colour, white remains keynote to her painting. She paints with a feel for the glowing atmosphere of the city that for Carrick inspired new way of seeing and creating.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

Other works by Ethel Carrick