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Claire Barrett

The Preserved Ephemeral


    Mark making is one of the most important tools humans have to communicate, and as such Claire Barrett's works explore the internal conversation she is having with the past, present, and future versions of herself through making and intuitively building upon marks. Using gut instincts (traces of past experiences) the artist navigates a way through chance and contingency (the present and immediate future). 

    Some of the works give a nod to traditional psychoanalytical methods of accessing the subconscious and the relationship to what has been, Rorschach ink blots for example, whilst also inviting shamanic readings into what could be. In this way time is looped and how we envisage the future is how we experience the past, and vice versa. By the same token she uses the Surrealist practice of automatic drawing. This produces drawings with a three-dimensional quality that speak of delicate shells or cocoons that bear the marks of time and experience.

    Whilst the process of painting with ink is a very immediate process, during which snap decisions have to be made, the drawings allow a much slower pace where time stretches.     

    By exploring these temporal spaces, and building a web of connections across time, the works flesh out a visual world to be observed and explored. A world wouldn’t have a story without characters to play it out, and faceless as they are, they still have agency. Some are monstrous sublime forms, speaking of the macro, some speak to the micro. The smaller knots are so delicate, like tiny catalysts. They are reminiscent of the first nanoseconds after a nuclear bomb explodes. All the energy for catastrophe and Armageddon is contained within their expanding borders.

    The work relies heavily on materials and process to create sumptuous surfaces that inspire visceral reactions in the viewer. The effect of freezing or preserving the ephemeral into the paper with such an abstract aesthetic frees the viewer to feel into the work with instinct and react with the gut. The works act as a mirror or portal into which reflections of the viewer's own experience can be recognised.



Claire Barrett is a British artist, based in Brighton.