A Month in the Country
2 - 21 August 2013
Claire Bayliss was born in London
She studied at Norwich School of Art and Design and The Royal Collage of Art
Claire currently lives and works in Norfolk
A conversation between Claire Bayliss and Amy Leach
Amy Leach: You’ve visited a number of Norfolk churches whilst preparing for the exhibition and I was interested in how these spaces, their decoration, their history and their day-to-day life, has influenced the show. What attracts you to them?
Claire Bayliss: I think the spare feel of the hang comes from these visits, there is a strange sparseness to these spaces even though they are far from empty. I have been considering why this is and I think it is something to do with the rhythms created by the similarity of shapes and textures. I have found this unconsciously occurring in the hanging of the show, I hadn’t realised how many circular things I had made. I’m also interested in the way things accumulate over time in a space like a church, there is no overall curation but an ebb and flow of things over time. On these visits there are occasionally wonderful moments when you find something really significant just lying half broken on a windowsill.
AL: So incidental moments and accidental discoveries are important? There seems a contrast between this and the more laboured, constructed processes of printing.
CB: I see printmaking processes as some kind of archaeological uncovering. I work through lots of sheets of paper, like layers of earth or the experience of reading and occasionally something emerges that is of interest. The processes are slow in contrast to say an inkjet but I feel this pace lends something to the work, and in the case of the gum bichromate prints allows for something quite alchemical to appear.
AL: I was planning to ask you about the importance of a sense of place, but perhaps it seems more relevant to ask you about a sense of time and the passage of time in relation to your work.
CB: My practice works as a kind of artistic archaeology where the work forms an interaction between time and place. This process uses place as a prompt for reimagining something past. So a sense of place is really important to the way I think about making. I want to feel that the work comes from a lived experience, allowing a place, time and space to influence the mood of the work. I am interested in the way that time seems to pass more slowly in places that have age.
Norfolk has been present for some time in my work and the OUTPOST show has given me a wonderful opportunity to consolidate this and make work about the place I live in.
AL: There is an intimacy about the objects you’ve chosen to represent in the show. A lot of them exist in relation to the body - a coin in a pocket, a spoon in a mouth – I’m interested in this humble scale in relation to the larger ideas about place and time.
CB: The places and objects that are depicted contextualise the work, in as much as they are part of the language of the things that surround me. Through the use of materials, in particular paper, I want the viewer to be able to have a relationship with the works surface, to understand how it would feel if touched. In these ways I want things to be understood, and in a way plain.
AL: The objects depicted in the sun prints, in particular, have a sense of age and weight to them, an almost talismanic quality.
CB: Its quite important to me that the objects feel like they belong to a different age, when in fact they have been made recently by me. I listened to a radio programme about the finite nature of archaeological objects, which made me realise how much more interesting it would be to make my own objects that fitted within the language of old, found things. ‘Grots’ is the name given to common Roman coins, my ‘grots’ are made of clay and unable to exist in the soil. On another level they are just round discs of clay with fingerprints on.
The shoes are made from painters linen as I like the idea of them being ‘art’ shoes. The gum bichromate printing process has lent them a lovely haze like aura. Maybe this process halfway between painting and photography gives the images of objects a sense of time, there is something quite sedimentary about how the image emerges on the paper.