Clare Maria Wood talks about the influence of place on her work…
Hi Clare – Your work is influenced by nature and landscape. How are the influences of the landscape in which you grew up reflected in your work?
I grew up in the North Yorkshire village of Goathland and went to school in Whitby. Surrounded by rugged moorland, my playground as a child, I developed a natural affinity with the land, which I still draw upon in my artwork. Smell, touch, sound is all as critical as what I see. I make lots of quick fluid sketches, noting down interesting features and compositional ideas. I also take lots of photographs but really the most important thing to me is to just absorb my surroundings. This physical experience becomes part of my recording process and back in the studio I tap into this allowing, at some point, the process of intuition and creative decision-making to take over. My finished pieces are semi-abstract, suggesting a breathing landscape and an expressive response to it.
Your recent residency was in Cornwall, how did that change the way you worked?
My residency at Brisons Veor, near St Just, was an opportunity to regenerate. I went with two artist friends who I collaborate with from time to time. Brisons Veor is a remote old engine house perched on Cape Cornwall’s tip. At night you can hear the waves crashing below the window and the wind howling. I loved it! I spent much of my time drawing from the monumental rock formations, which seemed to rise out of the crashing ocean below. Indomitable and bold, their dramatic architecture of craggy edges, fractures and apertures, framed and contrasted with the intense turquoise waters. Further up on the mainland I drew from stone stacks scattered around the exposed moorland. Harsh weather conditions had eaten into the splintered strata of the rock revealing the beautiful pivoting assemblages. By the end of the week I had filled my sketchbook and had numerous larger drawings ready to take home and develop in my studio. Spending a whole week looking, absorbing, recording and developing, without the pressure to create ‘finished pieces’ was invaluable. This was the beginning of my ‘Moorland’ and ‘Monolithic’ series.
More recently you moved to Brighton, a city, how has this change impacted your work?
I have always been inspired by the coast, so I was very excited to move to Hove a couple of years ago. Dialogue between nature’s elements and its charged exchanges have always characterised my work and whether it is blowing a gale, or the sun is shining, and the ocean is like a millpond I am there every day walking with my dog Poppy. Going east in the morning to catch the sunrise and west in the evening to see the beautiful glowing sunsets, I am astonished by the continually changing light. My most recent collection, ‘New Dawn’ is a response to my coastal walks during lockdown and seeing how important this walk really was to the local community. A time to reflect, to believe and to hope.
see New Dawn collection here.
This is the first time you have taken part in Artists Open Houses and it has been a strange year! Have the new AOH online developments been useful to you?
I think the lockdown has offered opportunities I may not have otherwise explored. When gallery exhibitions and art fairs closed, I took the time to develop my online presence, revamping my website and creating a shop area where buyers can browse buy direct. I have also become involved in the #artistsupportpledge, started my Matthew Burrows MBE on Instagram. This new way of working for artists and makers, by selling online and then pledging to buy another artist’s work, feels sustainable. I have been amazed at the response and lucky enough to sell many small artworks worldwide over the past few months. So, when AOH moved temporarily online, I felt ready. Read about the pledge here
What days do you plan to open your house to visitors in person?
I am planning to open my house for the first time in Hove on 5th- 6th and 12th-13th December. I have paintings, monoprints, sketchbooks and cards on show and a warm welcome. The last pieces of my ‘New Dawn’ collection will be on show and I will also be having a bit of a studio sale of archived paintings…too good to miss!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I will be busy working on a new series over the next few weeks and hope to launch this in early February, via by website. I’m not exactly sure where I will be going with it, but undoubtedly, welcoming in 2021, my thoughts will turn to the future and what it holds for us.