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?

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