Clare Smith's work springs from a desire to make visible what is already there but not seen. The work in this show is a response to the physical limitations of working during lockdown in a domestic setting and on a small scale.
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From March 2020, as someone in the very vulnerable category, Clare was in total lockdown until her cancer treatment was resumed in May 2020 and even then she was only really allowed out for hospital visits. She had to make work on a small table at home, away from her studio and with limited access to materials. Sometimes materials ask to be used so mostly she turned to materials that seemed to be lying in wait. The work is a response to the physical limitations of working in a domestic setting and on a small scale. Showcasing her during this period in TOD seems just right for these domestic-scaled works.
Coming to a cinema near yo
Clare ventured into her garden in the spring to enjoy the warmth of the sun and to make work that was simply about being in a place and what she could see: the garden became a destination while she was not allowed beyond the front gate.
Detail from Isolation Garden
The collages make use of old torn up pieces of work and magazine cuttings – material that is easily accessible and in the house already. Clare always have some material at home for the days when she could work but not quite well enough to go out. Collages are ways of bringing disparate elements together, a reflection of a collaged, mixed up world.
Detail from Bunting
Clare made these just before lockdown on a friend’s kitchen table so still within the domestic environment. The images are sourced from a film poster.
Once Clare felt tentatively able to get back into the studio, which is large and allows for social distancing, she decided to make some monoprints based on ancient Chinese shield shapes. A very direct response to the lockdown experience.
Much of her work springs from a desire to make visible what is already there but not seen or respond to the already-there, to show the simultaneity and side-by-sideness of leisure and labour, cultural and industrial activity and to think of these juxtapositions as being on either side of a boundary that is where we find the in-between.
Smith’s mixed English/Chinese heritage informs her perspective on issues of identity and categorisation and a childhood spent frequently travelling means she has an ambivalent relationship to place, reinforced by the sense of ambiguity that comes from her mixed identity. Smith works across genres in drawing, print media, collage and moving image. Through her choice of materials and approaches, she creates work which attempts to create a sense of unity. Her recent work reflects a growing interest in place and memory and a stronger focus on the autobiographical. There is a delicacy and fragility to some of Smith’s work, which reflects a constant sense of the precariousness of physical existence and a concern with healing.
Collaboration is part of Smith’s practice and she is co-founder of Dover Arts Development (DAD) together with painter, Joanna Jones. This involves working with many different artists, curation, organisation, event management, creating networks across East Kent and influencing the public realm in Dover.
Clare works from a studio in Dover. She has an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins and has exhibited nationally and internationally.
Recent solo exhibitions
2020: Hug those you love (Brew Folkestone)
2019: Beachtime stories, 100 ink drawings (The Line Gallery, The Margate School, November)