Continuing on with the Sunday Artist Interviews – many are lined up, so keep checking back, I think we need a few more distractions from the rather scary times we’re all living in right now! I’ve actually been doing these interviews over a year now! Here’s Claire to tell you a bit about herself and her art….
First of all, who are you?
Hi, Im Claire Bartlett – I’ve painted all my life, but got into the professional arts after helping set up a community arts Centre in Shrewsbury in the 1970’s. This inspired me to take an Arts degree at Newcastle upon Tyne and then I worked as a Community Artist for many years.
Among other things, I designed for theatre companies, made carnival structures with Welfare State International and made Bunraku puppets with Puppets and People, while also working in the community with youth groups, young offenders and schools in Visual and Performing Art.
I now live on the Essex coast with a horde of rescue dogs. I still teach occasionally and run a small art group. (I am hoping to resume this after lockdown.)
I `retired` some time ago (though it doesn’t feel like it) and am enjoying taking the time to create my own work.
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer?
I grew up in the 50’s. Girls weren’t asked that question then. Art college was out of the question as art wasn’t a proper job so I qualified as a riding instructress since I’d been working at a local stable at weekends and they offered me a job.
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
I made a giant domed Jellyfish for a Maritime Festival once. It sat where we were doing kids’ activities. One of my sons attached fishing line to it and (hidden) made it jump as people passed – with ensuing screams. People were peering inside but no-one noticed the line. It kept us amused for hours.
What is the hardest part of being creative?
It’s a precarious life, financially speaking. You will never make your fortune, but you will be happy.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Art doesn’t only come in a frame. Think outside the box.
What subjects inspire you?
The natural world primarily – animals and plants. Also the oral tradition fascinates me – from myths to nursery rhymes. I love the way you can follow a thread back.
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
I love the work of Australian artist John Lovett. Charles Reid would have been there but sadly died recently so I’ll put in Mel Stabin. Soon Young Warren for technique.
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Turner. Manet (any of the French impressionists tbh). Millais.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
I rarely like my own work., tbh I don’t know any artists who do. The next one will be better….
I quite like the little House-Wife ones I did though. Even though they are almost impossible to exhibit. This is one of them….
What was the last piece of art you sold?
I’m currently making a series of mixed media works inspired by British Wildlife which happily seem popular.
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
Camembert. But only in France. Here the best is mature Cheddar. Or maybe Shropshire Blue.