I attended a talk this week by the photographic artist Clare Strand. I had not come across her work before but whilst researching her I was really taken by the breadth of what she has done and the obvious sense of humour contained in her work.
Clare walked us through some of her projects – it is always so enlightening to hear an artist explain the process, development and serendipity behind their work.
Clare works in several ways – photography, almost exclusively black and white (“colour is very busy”) and sometimes with what sounds like a huge collection of old cuttings and magazines – some of her recent works such as 10 Least Most Wanted and Research in motion use research material as the subject of the piece. Clare explained how she pares down a work until it is in it’s purest form, and with her research pieces, she has pared the work down until the research is the work!
I have been relishing the research angle of my practice this term and I am excited to realise that there is such a thin line – or no line at all – between research and practice.
Clare talked about where her inspiration comes from, which is related to my creativity talk for Tuesday. She said “projects come to you when you are loose and free” and “free yourself up and you’ll be surprised at what could happen.” That sounds very much like getting in touch with the Trickster character or your free child within, who likes to play and has no rules. I will be talking about that in my presentation.
The biggest thing I took from Clare’s talk was fun. She really seems to have fun with her work. If something goes wrong, with a work, at a gallery… she finds it fun, hilarious even. She is not overly attached to her work, once it is ‘out there’ in the world she is curious about what might happen, and finds the results very amusing.
Finally Clare talked about how she likes to exhibit – she believes that the viewer should be left with “room to wonder” and so she does not give too much explanation to her work. I understand what she means, however, I feel that if the artist gives too little of the reasoning, then the work becomes inaccessible to the average viewer. An example of this is her Skirts series – I had looked at this on the website beforehand and confess I didn’t get it. A black and white series of table skirts? But when I listened to Clare talk so enthusiastically about the work, it came to life (I had a lightbulb moment listening to her – now I got it, or got something anyway), and I wonder if there is a middle ground – an artist could give enough information to give the observer something to go on – but after that they can use their imaginations to make what they will of the work?
Art, fine art especially, often seems very deep and worthy, and it was uplifting to realise that you can be a serious (and very successful) artist and just have fun!
You can find out more about Clare’s work on her website. (Pictures shown by kind permission of the artist).
Fantastic radio prog on BBC Radio4 here on Imagination. Digital Human.
The featured picture this week is one of mine – from a series I did this week at Castle Road, Southsea. See the rest on my website.