Carla Raads x Amber Galleries: 2023 Solo Show



An artist from South Africa who is inspired by sunsets and seascapes is putting on her first solo show in Henley.

Carla Raads, who grew up on the Eastern Cape coast, moved to Britain about 20 years ago and now lives in Lytham St Annes in Lancashire

The 37-year-old, who paints with oil on canvas, spent much of her childhood playing on the beach so she loves the ocean.

Carla says: “The exhibition is a collection of my sunset paintings, which explore a spectrum of moods and emotions depicted through sunsets captured over the last 18 months.

“These paintings serve as a reflection of my personal experiences and the varied emotional landscapes I’ve traversed during summer and winter from different locations in the UK, Spain and South Africa. Each painting encapsulates moments of introspection, presenting a range of emotions from vibrant and joyful to serene and contemplative.”

Carla paints seascapes, skyscapes and cloudscapes and is inspired by nature and changes in the weather.

After training in fine art, she studied design and interiors at Manchester Metropolitan University.

She was taught by the late Philippe Aird, of the Phoenix Galleries in Hulme, who was mentored by L S Lowry.

Carla had a successful career as a model before reconnecting with her love of painting.

A severe bout of postnatal depression led her to plunge her hands directly into the paint and capture her emotions straight on to canvas.

“Some of my paintings touch on being realistic and sometimes they’re very abstract,” she says.

“I used to paint exclusively with my hands but now I start by applying everything by hand and then once the scene has developed, I’ll finish with rags or brushes or a palette knife, whatever the piece is asking for.

“My paintings can be very large. Some of them are smooth, where I use rags and take pieces away, and others are very thick with paint.

“I think what I’m trying to say with the work is that sometimes there just aren’t the words to describe nature or emotions. The paintings can encapsulate moments of introspection, presenting a range of emotions.

“My very large paintings, where the sun is present, serve more as a profound self-portrait, so I see myself, or I’d like the viewer to see themselves, at the heart of the scene or that specific phase of life.”

Carla has worked on some interesting projects in the last year.

She says: “I collaborated with Porsche on a campaign called Driven by Dreams. I had a pop-up show in their Preston showroom and they made me an ambassador. It was quite heavily female-led and really cool.

“We made a video together and then they approached me to paint their 75th anniversary 911, which was just the coolest thing ever.

“So I painted a commission piece for them and then they had the car wrapped in the painting for an event. It was called the Dream in Full Colour art car. They used the car for the summer and toured around the country and did different events. It was a really cool collaboration.”

Carla also collaborated with Jumeirah Hotels for their clifftop hotel in Sóller in Mallorca.

“I went on holiday there and then I started painting loads of Mallorcan suns,” she says.

“Then the hotel approached me and they were like, ‘Do you want to do a show for the whole season?’It was March to October and then the first collection sold out so I had to paint another nine paintings to put back up.

“The hotel is magnificent — it’s on a cliff edge and they have a sunset lounge so it was very much in keeping with that.”

• Sun and soul: sunset recollections by Carla Raads is at Amber Galleries in Market Place, Henley, until Thursday. For more information, call (01491) 526933, email or visit