Friday, 4 September 2009

Been away for a while

So I thought I had best start posting recent works, installation 'Islands of Thought' from April 2009.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Article: Viral Chains: Recent Works by Clair Rushton

Images from top: Viral Chain. Installation view. 09.
Untitled. Installation view. 09.
Connections. Paper. 09.
Sequential Logic. Photograph.09

Looking to the recent body of work (2009) by visual artist Clair Rushton, a variety of interests and dialogues emerge. Within her studio lies an array of paper- based sculpture and photographs’, revealing that image making has become important in her practice. Looking around it becomes clear that there is an element of the obsessive in the way she works: in creating patterns through paper carving, that capture natural phenomena and ephemera, and in the repeating and reordering them into sculptural forms. There is clearly an influence from eastern paper cutting and culture in particular; the manipulated large paper works suggest origami, however she claims to have not been able to “get origami” but instead plunders some of its folding ideas and aesthetics.

The problem with an artist like Rushton is tying down her true interests as when she talks she skips from ideas about Neuroaesthetics, structure and intuition, to art therapy and rural living and then to thoughts about the state of art criticism within a Globalised context. Yet this eagerness for looking to different influences and themes within her work can be explored in the context of her thoughts: “Everything in the world seems to be linked by an intrinsic structure” seen in all the repetition of structures both as a pattern and physically represented through

the sculptures. The installation Viral Chain explores intrinsic structures of neurons using patterns on paper, while playing on thoughts of a scientific gaze “ looking at sequences, hybridisation of systems and thoughts on the void in between painting and sculpture”. The works also suggest the eastern influence of pattern and filigree giving the work a variety of cultural perspectives. An interest in the scientific gaze and image making is expressed and pointed out through referencing microscopic zoom and petri dishes arguably a little cliché, however the work seems to escape this with its use of UV light as another scientific process.

Rushton uses pseudo-science to create works that can only be revealed under certain conditions:” I believe in honesty and truth in my work. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I want to engage with people.” The UV light element allowing different levels of engagement with the viewer and representing a sense of honesty with UV blacklight often used for revealing identities and within cleansing and sterilising applications. Seen in the installations of her recent body of work using UV light to reveal the intrinsic patterns, with a UV glow.

Her interest with structures and systems harks back to a nostalgia for aesthetics and content from works in the 1960’s and 70s’ that looked at systems theories as reconstructed in the exhibition: Open Systems by the Tate in 2005. Taking note of artists’ interests at the time such as ‘Warhol, insisting that the artist become the machine that makes the art’. (Glimcher.p20.2005) Which is a place where Rushton seems be taking off from in the way she makes her works: “Using technology as a way of escaping process, undermining the human element. I think its fundamental within art. The physicality of working through process allows you to creatively explore and make mistakes” Eva Hesse worked in the same way with repetition ‘this act was at the heart of her creative process’ (Barger, M. 2007).

Rushton often mentions an interest in the “void between painting and sculpture” almost a historical interest which arguably isn’t particularly a relevant one.

She has faced disagreements about following such thoughts when artists such as Rauschenberg have tackled this void in his "Combine" paintings. Painting is seen as less relevant and exhausted in visual arts particularly with Rauschenberg and Neo Dada exploration of the subject however Rushton’s response is evident in pattern making, and the physicality of patterns in sculptural work. With Rushton she has little interest in the everyday or combining through collage, assemblage and creates work that look to contemporary philosophies and technology. Rushton creates works that bring into focus the complex but unseen that which can only be seen under certain conditions, she believes that there is still space to explore the “void” with technology where neo-dada aesthetics couldn’t.

Rushton identifies the work and research of Semir Zeki as being the galvanising force for clarifying her interests “ in thoughts around structure, intuition and how everything in the world seems to be linked together by an intrinsic structure” and introducing her to Neuroaesthetics. With thoughts that artwork is often created through intuition which is merely a fundamental construct by the brain using experience and learning as a basis for thought and decision-making. Artists are after all closet neuroscientists who unconsciously understand what titillates the brain. Their ability to abstract the essentials of an image and discard the redundant information mirrors which the brain has evolved over millions of years. (Highfield, R 2007)

Landscape and process resonates with Rushton in her image making as seen in the photographic series Sequential Logic. The influence of living in a rural setting sees Rushton using it as a setting for works, to provoke insecurities about the influence of nature on technology. Rushton is interested in the way she can explore this relationship through image making and sculpture, with the sculptural elements in the work being physical manifestations of sequences found throughout the natural world and in turn found throughout technology.

Rushton expressed a desire for her work to develop further in its sophistication - with regards to an interest in fictionalised narrative building, as seen in the epic work of Charles Avery, perhaps Rushton sees this as method to “draw the links together of my interests”. The idea of creating a fictionalised world for Rushton’s work links with the obsessive nature of both her and Avery through the attention to detail that enables a fictionalised world to emerge. She has talked about the possibilities of her work becoming a fictionalised laboratory of experimentation and acting as an artistic manifestation of scientific experimentation. An interesting systematic approach like this will no doubt appeal to Rushton, however its success will depend on how well she can translate and link her interests into such an ambitious fantasy.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


Artist Interview – in conversation with Clair Rushton.
Interviewer Dan Willett

DW: What inspires you as an artist?

CR: Where I live, my family and the people that I’m close to. In particular with the environment and being close to a natural landscape, with the contrast between urban and rural. I live in a town but it’s in a rural area in Staffordshire, I’m influenced by living in this environment and going out working with it.

Sequential Logic. Photograph.2009.

DW: Do you have an artist/group of artists that you identify with in terms of that?

CR: Early on I was interested in paper artists especially Chris Natrop who works with paper and installation. I also identified with Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long, but from a different perspective now. I enjoy particular elements of many artists’ practice. With Damian Roach I identify with the way he creates simple systematic hybrids. I also enjoy Conrad Shawcross creating useless artistic machines, the gallery setting, and the public interaction. An important influence for me is James Turrell; his works are purely experiential and really interesting in that aspect. I want my work to be an experience. The heavy use of the colour Blue by Turrell and Yves Klein also resonates throughout my work.

James Turrell. Spread. 2003.

DW: Where do you see you work going?

CR: I’m starting to draw the links together of my interests particularly those in the last four years: Interests in fibres, natural materials, UV lights and structures. There was a series of works that I did called Compartmentalisation, I look back at those works – and I see how they express my thinking processes looking at compartments, and linkage. I see that I can link all these lines of enquiry together and I see that structure has always been important in my work unconsciously. I’m not sure where my work will go in the future, but I don’t think any artist knows that or that they should.

Untitled. Compartmentalisation Series. Mixed Media. 2008

DW: Are you hung up on Process?

CR: Perhaps. It’s important to me but it’s not for many artists now, using technology as a way of escaping process, undermining the human element. I think its fundamental within art. The physicality of working through process allows you to creatively explore and make mistakes, which for me is really important in breakthroughs.

DW: What materials and processes do you find an affinity for the most?

CR: Softer materials, having worked with metals and stone in the past I have realised that they don’t have the same resonance with the sorts of ideas that I’m looking at. I find that I like to use fibres, fabric and particularly paper.

DW: What are your long-term goals and plans for your work?

CR: More exhibitions keep momentum and tie together all the different aspects of my practice - in painting, sculpture, installation and photography. I would also like to produce written published work and books.

DW: Do you have a long-term message that you want to put across with your work?

CR: At the moment I’m interested in thoughts around structure, intuition and how everything in the world seems to be linked together by an intrinsic structure.

Spiral. Paper. Installation view. Dimensions Variable. 2007

DW: Do you think that criticality is important to your work?

CR: I think it’s important to an extent. But for this generation of artists it seems that criticality has become more important than the art, everything needs to be criticised and justified. I don’t believe that is necessarily how arts will carry on. Artists shouldn’t be defending themselves or their work, we should be going out creating works that ask questions and explore ideas.

DW: Do you think that Technology has an impact on your work?

CR: Yes. In the last few months I have really changed the way that I think about myself in a global context with globalisation changing art practice completely.

DW: So would you say your attitude to art generally has changed recently?

CR: From living in London it’s changed drastically, mainly because I didn’t enjoy the established status quo and academy element of the art scene in London. I felt that it’s a place where there’s so much saturation of Art that there was almost no need to be there. Which is partly why I’ve moved back to Staffordshire: It is a place that needs art and regeneration; it needs artists to make statements, projects and community works in a way that London doesn’t.

DW: So would you say you see yourself /your work detached from your artistic peers?

CR: I see myself on the same level as my peers. But I perhaps have a different attitudes to art making and practice, possibly a little bit more realistic or pragmatic. I believe in honesty and truth in my work. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I want to engage with people.

DW: Are you pleased with your recent body of work?

CR: I’ve made a lot of progress in recent months with regards to the subject of systems and structure and the resolution of the works. I’ve been working on soft sculptures and some Installation works, which have been looking at sequences, hybridisation of systems and thoughts on the void in between painting and sculpture.

Viral Chain. Installation view. Mixed Media. 2009.

DW: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

CR: Practicing professionally, and working in other capacities with interests including Art therapy, research and writing within Neuroaesthetics and its links with disability and its impact on the creative mind. I also have a drive to teach, to pass on skills, knowledge and experiences.

DW: What other outside elements beside those plays a role in your work?

CR: A big interest in music, especially Rock and Metal. I grew up in a very musical family my Dad was in the music business from when I was little. It’s had a massive impact on my life growing up with many different creative. I also have huge fascination with alternative hair design, which has been part of my artwork, using synthetic hair to create works part of my affinity for soft materials.

DW: What would make your life easier for you as an artist?

CR: If people would give me lots of money to put on fantastic shows!? Just to be facetious.

DW: Would it be worth it though? Would you have anything to work towards if it was that easy?

CR: No there would be no point in being an artist then. For me being rich and famous and putting on big shows is not what being an artist is about, it’s about thinking, discussing, engaging and making works about ideas and issues.

DW: Are there any less drastic ways in which would make your life easier as an artist?

CR: More funding and support for young female artists from disadvantaged and rural areas. I found it hard to get support for studying as an artist in the community I come from. Still now people say to me - when are you going to get a real job?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Compartmentalisation Exhibition

This series of works resulted in an exhibition at Stafford College, my first solo exhibition.
Taken from the exhibtion:

Painting Exhibition - Compartmentalisation

The paintings in this exhibition show my progression from a primary interest in sculpture to the realisation of the sheer joy of going back to work in two-dimensional works, with the informed mindset and influence of a sculptor.

The paintings as a whole explore my own mindset and the way in which I think day to day. Looking at compartmentalisation, pigeon-holes, boxes, small and large confines, endless lists, and the fact that in everyday life we are all governed by the geometric structure around us rather than our own organic one. My personal frustrations with this way of living are reflected in the paintings, as is the irony in my own juxtaposition with structure; as creative mind I need a way of organising my thought patterns and everyday tasks, and thus resort to lists, mind maps, and emotion and thought suppression through compartmentalisation of my mind.

Paintings - Compartmentalisation

I began starting to paint on a large scale and explore the actual process of painting in this way. It also lead me onto ideas of compartments within myself and my mind and the way that I think. This came to be the title for this series of works and sculptures that I do.

Then there was Paint...

I learnt to paint... it came out of nowhere. In early 2008 after an inspiring trip to Australia and getting to see Aboriginal works up close, and get an understanding of painting and sculpture in a completely diferent context and culture.

Collaborative Recycling Project

From late 2006 I became part of a collaborative Art Group - Art From the Spokes set up by Adam Wilkinson at Stafford College and the Back to Bikes Team at Stafford Borough Council. We worked towards an exhibition of sculptures made out of old bikes recycled into insect based sculptures. It turned into a sculpture Trail at Shugborough Hall for the summer of 2007 and was very successful in raising issues about recycling and encouraging the use of bicycles as a means of transport and exercise.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A series of works produced for the exhibition in 2007. Including the memory works. A productive period exploring interactivity and participation within the gallery space. Particularly using soft materials, fibres and paper.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


Memories, Photos and Balloons. Mixed Media Installation. Dimensions Variable. 2007.
Installation with varying filled balloons that rise and fall in the space in the presence of people. Exploring the concept of memories and ambitions.How they rise and fall. Looking to memories from childhood and teenage years, some missing and fragmented. With photographic materials triggering family memories, and situations.

Memories seem to be a
subject that artists, writers and scientists visit time and time again. Questioning the nature of memory, and looking at its limits.Whether through niavety or because its a fundamental element of being human, that we are drawn to what we can't see or quite understand. With our minds able to store vast amounts of memory, creating the people that we are with an indepth intuition and thought processes based on learned experience. I think that memories are key to artists so many of us work with narratives, stories and memories that interest them that they feel they need to create art about. I'm no different and can see this type of work to be very rewarding particularly having a massive resonance with Art Therapies which I have an interest in. Alongside current theories of Neuroaesthetics and the work of Semir Zeki puts forward theories- that the way the brain sees colours is an inherited concept, however– the way in which the brain thinks and its constant changing of the ideals of concept is through acquired experience. Looking at the brain in response to specific stimulus, concept building and abstraction. (Zeki, 2008).

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

From the same series of Installation works -Spiral. 2007. Working with a different set of
thoughts based on natural lighting. Looking at light and shadows within the space and the landscapes that can be explored through the gaze of the camera format.

Monday, 23 February 2009


Uv Spiral, 2007. Various Dimensions.
Mixed Media.

I've always had a love for works that involve installation and an element of site specifity. I have found James Turrell as my installation idol. No other artist has made as big an impact on my experiences in a gallery space as his works. He takes you to another level of concious, and makes you question your experiences of the world and his work As a maker who is interested in process being able to create works to install into a space is incredibly challenging in a variety of ways. Through this process of problem solving and installing I end up having the opportunity and time to be creative it is always a vehicle for new ideas. Working in new spaces is always rewarding, I always relish the Image making through photography with Installation work as quite a different work can be represented which is intriguing for me, the way in which you can reimagine a work.
I have taken from Turrell his playfulness and the interactivity of his works expecting the spectator to become part of the work. But also importantly his use of coloured light within some of his works.

The Images above show me looking back to paper cutting again as an influence but working with installation like with Waterfall(2006). Specifically becoming interested in the relationships between nature and mathematics, particularly that of the Fibonacci sequence. As I looked at naturally occuring spirals in nature through my own photographic explorations. I had always wanted to use UV light with paper, the fact that UV represents something clean and pure interests me with the colour it produces.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Paper Cuttings

I realised that using paper and other two dimensional materials to carve (early in 2007) was a very fulfilling and creative way to work. Yet its success was due to simplicity and restrictions of the material. Which is something that I need to work hard to remember. It was during this period that I once again looked at origami, and chinese traditional paper carving and also the scissor cut paper work of Hans Christian Anderson.

(Interweb. Cut Paper. 2007)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Importance of structure

and repetition within my work...
Lost wax model for a bronze medal - a tear drop made of tears.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Not listening to advice.

One of the first pieces that I made at Stafford is Give Paper back, an installation at Cannock Chase.(One of the reasons I love to practice in Staffordshire, the huge amount of natural resources and forests) I had a huge interest in Land and environmental art which I believe is something that still influences how I practice and think.

I decided to do a HND in Fine Art Sculpture, I was told not to by quite a few people and tutors as a degree would be better for me. I was told to go for the best Art College or University, but I was intrigued by what I had seen at Stafford College, no other University that I had been to had students working on imaginative sculpture. I had the opportunity and the means and funds to experiment in every medium and material by going to the small college I went to. It truly allowed me to be myself, and learn a huge amount of skills in drawing, clay, stone, metal, and ceramics as a basis from which to spring to other materials and ideas. It also allowed me to be involved for the first time in an artist community and feel part of a group, and gain the criticality and interaction of other students, as well as meet local respected artists and see how they made their living.

I'm glad I didn't take that advice, as I now see my time at Stafford as fundamental to who I am. After later studying in London and being disappointed it made me realise how my education there really allowed me to see how to make a living where I want to live, studying in London never would have shown me that.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Independent thinker

I've been thinkimg about creativity again. In a lecture I went to today one of the speakers a PHD student said the important moment for her was when she realised that she was "an Independent thinker" at an early stage of her education. I thoroughly agreed which this epistemology for anyone who wants to explore progressive thought and education, as a creative person its one of the biggest assets that you possess.

I realised that there is an earlier work that I did in 2005 that was a very first material exploration that really got me excited to start exploring sculptural forms - the Wire Dress works above.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Interlude -Lets be pragmatic for a while...

Recently I've been reading other artists blogs particularly those on a-n the website and publication is a life saver for me and many other artists, as I look at how to practice and earn and a wage, while putting this expectation for artists to be able to make a living against the actual realities.

Trying to face this reality is so important for any young artist. I have recently been trying to analyse the problems of having a imagination it allows me to be creative yet also cripples me at times to the realities of the art world. I've recently written a manifesto for myself based on being pragamatic and my own problems with the Art Institutions and Academys. Which seemed to echo many statements that I found in this recent artictle in the guardian and some of the reasons that a London art school education didn't work for me.


The Manifesto

Pragmatism looks to the present Art and Cultural climate and sees the void and depressing disquiet of such times. In the wake of increasing Economic catastrophe the world begins new wars of energy and economy. As the awareness of Post Modernity infiltrates all consciences leaving a gaping void of beliefs and direction we believe that the “truth” and “meaning” of the pragmatic movement offers honesty in times of unrest and proposes five key concepts.

  1. PROPOSITION ONE: Art school = Macbook:

    • The need to Re-learn how to think
    • The need to Re-learn how to create.
    • The re-engagement of the mind is key.
    • The death of criticality makes Arts institutions obsolete.
    • Nostalgia en masse is undesirable.
    • The individual of now is as undesirable as the masse.
    • The art institution and academy should be disbanded, through making money rather than engaging and teaching they are invalid formats of learning.
    • Increase in the value of practice based working as a process of dealing with changes and as an alternative to the academy.

  1. PROPOSITION TWO: Truth and meaning:

· Pragmatists believe that Art cannot be about just the individual experience.

· As artists we have to believe and hold up the ideals of meaning and truth.

· As Pragmatists we believe in making our own truth.

· In Pragmatism we value truth and see it as the foundation from which to regain control.

· We must see adaptability as key rather than duplicity.

  1. PROPOSITION THREE: Death of Criticality:

· Criticism as we have known it is dead.

· Criticality relies on making informed judgements, not just making it up as critics see fit.

· Criticism has become lethargic and created its own death.

· The death of criticality makes Arts institutions obsolete.

4. PROPOSITION FOUR: Cultural conscience:

· Cultural saturation is not enough to create true culture.

· Art academies should be disbanded to allow for new cultural value to form.

· Death to neo-nostalgia.

· Utopia is catastrophe.

· The rise of Neuroaesthetics will shape our future

· Pandering to the lowest denominator is dangerous.

· Individual consciousness is just part of a mass unconscious thought process.

· Advertising is not art and art is not advertising.

  1. PROPOSITION FIVE: Technology and war:

· War creates true innovation.

· Technological exploitation will not take the place of great ideological advances.

· The importance of sciences impact on the arts should not be underestimated.

· Political and economical unrest is the only way we can create change and increase medical and technological innovation.

· All artwork of now should be conscious of the ecological implications.

· We will find values again in ‘system’ ‘structure’ and ‘process’

As I look to my past work and tie together this web of what makes me an Artist I think its important to relate this to how I feel now about my practice and the simple issues of the fact that being an Artist is hard work if you want to make a living, very few manage. However its a reasonable expectation that my education will at least stand me in good stead for a career somewhere within the creative industrys, or in other industries where critical and lateral thinking is appreciated as a very postitive attribute. If not then perhaps I should ask for a refund for all my tuition fees over the last few years at college?

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Waterfall 2006. Paper.

This blog I hope will be a way of engaging with other people and artists about what I do, and how I do it. I hope I can explain what I feel, what I'm interested in and how it all links together to produce my work. I'm really hoping that it will help me to mature as an artist in this period of change for me as a student who has found it hard to be happy in my education. Having chopped and changed from one institution to another always craving more knowledge and sense of place and opportunity. I find myself back home where perhaps I should have always been. The place in which I feel the most inspired and I believe the area that needs art desperately as it lags behind culturally.
I have put down what I see as the beginning of my practice the time in which I began to realise how my creativity was something beautiful to be explored with a passion, fervour of inspiration and application helped me to achieve my first installation - Waterfall in the summer of 2006 and the first bold step in my work that I still believe stands me in stead.

I intend to look back over my work of the last few years in this blog. To try and tie down what is in my mind and to clarify the links that I'm now beginning to see. It seems as if all my works, my life happenings are tied to fate and if I can only begin to believe again in my own intuition I will flourish again.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Through indecisive and unhappy teenage years, and finding myself studying for a degree in history I found my true love of creative thinking and the desire to explore these creative impulses. An interest in light and shadow and capturing what cannot be grasped or easy seen was a huge awakening for my artistic development. The thematic approach of looking at something that humans cannot easily physically capture or recreate fascinated me then and still plays a huge role in the way I think about art and aesthetics. I look back at this time of growth and see the implementation of fundamental Neuroaesthetic functions in my mind as it began to ask questions about what art could be.
This period resulted in a successful exploration of subject and a strong body of work. Influenced by a discovery of Chris Natrop's work and his innovative use of paper as a material to intricately carve and install into spaces.