Clare Harford studio visit

Clare’s studio is light, airy and really beautifully arranged. I never know what I expect from people’s studios, but I think the impression I have of people’s work must influence where I imagine them working. Clare’s work is a blend of meticulous drawings over a loose abstract ground, with references to the urban overlaid with more figurative trees. Nature dominates the grimy cities, even though they appear to seep through sometimes. It is the simplicity of nature rather than the grimy urban which clearly dominates this workspace.
I know the purpose of these visits isn’t to crit the studio itself, but I do find it gives me an insight into the thinking that goes into work when I see where a lot of the thinking takes place.

Sketchbooks are arranged near all the paints and brushes. These contain rough sketches of ideas for pictures, along with ‘damage limitation’ drawings for when Clare feels the work is getting a bit out of hand. The idea of blowing off steam, or working something through off the canvas is interesting, but I wonder with hindsight whether this fear of losing control might be channeled into a piece of work, with potentially explosive or chaotic results, electrifying it?
The smaller sketchbooks contain single works which are exquisite, and deserve to be valued as works in their own right.
The ‘family tree of canvasses’ shows how the work flows from one to the next idea, despite the ‘terror’ of finishing each one. Collages of found work develop into collages of ideas, styles and mediums. Clare quoted TS Elliot when he said that the end of the world arrives not with a bang but a whimper, and this is where the current line has headed. This isn’t out of place with the theme though.
As for exploring further ideas, methods or mediums, we talked about several possible strategies, including location, scale and presentation. It was when Clare unveiled a huge work on paper though that we all got really excited. The work sprang into the room. Scale and technique and somehow the energy of the paper really gave us a new view. Hopefully this will encourage Clare to have more confidence in playing about with the work.
Lastly, it was really good to hear about the effect of time spent with the work. Little and often has been really useful, compared to occasional long blasts. This is something I want to take on board.
Fantastic cake too!


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