I’ve been following Clare Price’s studio practice online for a while now and it’s a pleasure to finally be able to share her work and this fantastic interview here! Her practice is concerned with identity, the body, and sexuality, and she has been gradually moving into the realm of photography as well, approaching it with an autobiographical quality. More at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am from the North West of England from a small place between Manchester and Liverpool – excellently placed for both nature and countryside and also going out dancing in my youth in the aforementioned metropolises. I have lived in London for 27 years (bar a 9 month stint in Berlin in 1991, boy was it exciting then. I live in Peckham where I have brought up my son and have a dog and live on a street that used to be considered the end of the earth and now seems to have turned into the centre of the universe. I love where I live I am deeply embedded in the community through my son and my dog and I guess my painting I feel very blessed to live here.
I studied Painting at Central Saint Martins in 1990 and then after a very long school of life gap (this will be a very long paragraph if we go into all of that, a lot of mistakes were made, however fabulously I had my son in 2000 the best thing in the life story ) and then returned to Goldsmiths for four earth shattering, life saving, being broken down to dust years as a part timer which was the greatest gift, that will equally probably take me the rest of my life to recover from.
I am a painter, I make large scale performative paintings that are vulnerable, exposed, rent open. The works are gestural and sensuous using the containment of the stretcher to heighten the alchemical affect of the fusing of materials and feelings and the time in which the work is made. In the last year and a half I have begun to situate my body within the practice with photographic works that I have made for complex personal and political reasons. They are a way of taking the power back within patriarchal structures so embedded particularly in the field of painting and also a way of un-containing a wildness and sexuality that has existed in the paintings after a period of great liberation and fragility.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I was always obsessed by the artist families where I grew up (there were only two of them) , there was something that I was innately drawn to from a very young age a freedom, a bohemian quality I would be able to name it now, that was so utterly seductive. My Dad to his credit took me to galleries and gave me permission to be in those spaces without feeling like I had to understand them, that was a huge gift. The Rothko exhibition at Tate Liverpool in the 80’s in Liverpool, winning the Primary School painting competition judged by Mr Totton the secondary school Art Teacher (one of the artist families), my friend Sadie Ball’s gorgeous rambling 70s bohemian heavens of houses with plants and glass and brown and dark lighting and my primary school which was covered in Hessian and all the teachers were freshly graduated from Art and Music School and there was a lot of poetry and guitars and dance – all of those things.
Also being good at art saved me at school, I had respect even from the hardest kids because I could draw, just about saved my ass.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am exploring so much at the moment both in terms of the photographs and the paintings. I am not sure I can put it all into words, I went through the intense educational experience of Goldsmiths and it feels now like I am “channeling” a lot of that or I am allowing it to percolate through and this is manifesting in a fairly larey instagram practice and obsessive painting. I am thinking very hard about a new body of paintings I want to make for the show in November of Paintings and Photographs, playing with different surfaces. I suppose like Mark Leckey says I am letting it come through the body so the ideas are manifesting in the making and it is hard to put them into words often until a long time afterwards.
What is your process like?
I think it is quite animalistic the process , it is like a building up of things and tension and experience and being overwhelmed and then a need to go to the studio to make sense of them. I think of painting as being a bit like magic where experience or trauma meet the body and the materials and the containment of the safe space of the studio and the canvas and create in the best outcomes maybe beauty. I am also interested in the idea that the affect imbued in the paintings in their making is experienced in a bodily way when standing in front of them (I always think that paintings are as much felt as seen) . I am always reading and watching things and well, living and so all those things go in, it’s not like Deleuze gets preference over the Kardashians or the beans on toast you had for breakfast . I think it is all in there. I suppose sex, painting, the history of painting, sensuality, the body, sometimes make-up, fashion they are some of the interests embedded within the work.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
The piece of advice or wisdom that I am constantly referring back to is by my tutor at Goldsmiths the shamanic and amazing Mark Leckey. He said “Use your body as a vehicle for your obsessions” and “art comes through the body and the life experience”, these words were life changing for me and anyone who has ever been taught by me will hear me banging on about these phrases.
What is your studio like?
I am very lucky I have an Acme Space (incredible organisation and charity that have affordable art spaces in London and without whom none of us would be left here I think ). The space is in an old Spitfire Propeller Factory in Deptford, it is wondrous, I have been there ten years and I know magical people on my corridor who are a great support to me. I share the studio with a young friend and we keep each other going with music and sometimes wine in the depths of the winter (it is not warm the studio). It is old the floor is pock marked by paint and by it’s original industrial usage. Next door the factory that people used to work in for cash if they were on benefits has been turned into insanely expensive flats , which is uncomfortable as there is still great deprivation in that area. The space is protected for a number of years I know how blessed I am , it is a safe space a haven , friends of the great artist Joan Mitchell described her studio as “”like a place that an animal goes to for safety” and I completely relate to that.
I usually walk my dog in Nunhead Cemetery or Oxleas Woods or around Deptford first, I feed her and get her settled, drink coffee and eat any food in sight before working myself up to the task of changing into my studio clothes and starting to work. These routines as well as practicing yoga and qigong and keeping things simple and very very local seem to be the only way I can find the courage to push things forward within the work and not get completely overwhelmed.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The fact that I am (despite my online presence) quite shy and have to approach the private view scenario (especially my own) as a “performance” which usually involves dressing up a lot. It is a difficult balance with the necessary solitude required for making paintings/thinking deeply and developing your practice. It helps if there is dancing afterwards to release the tension.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Fragile, Sexual, Bodily
What are you working on right now?
I am working with a curator Cairo Clarke and a photographer Benjamin Whitley to realise as show of paintings and photographs at ASC Gallery in London in November. This will be an opportunity to explore the photographic works that have been emerging as an important part of my practice for complex personal, political and conceptual reasons online. Working with Benjamin to set up and edit the photographs (that will be activated by me , thus keeping the female gaze in tact) and with Cairo I will investigate and develop how they might work in relationship to the paintings in a gallery context.