In this week’s Spotlight interview, we’re delving into the world of light and installations with talented up-and-coming artist, Clare Lynn. Clare’s work has memsmerised and intrigued many and with a tidal extravaganza just around the corner, she certainly has the future of her art mapped out!
Clare, light plays a major role in your work – when did you first begin to experiment with it and in what way?
I first started experimenting with light a couple of years ago when I saw footage on the internet of some light grafitti. They recorded it on film and animated it (I think the theme was Star Trek versus Star Wars!). I became fascinated with how they created it. From there I started using fibre optics in my work to have a go myself. The only paintings I ever did were a couple of pieces where I fitted fibre optics into the canvas so it glowed with the light. That’s where it started. However, I’ve always had fascination with it light in art; Dan Flavin uses fluorescent tube lighting in his work and I went to see his art in the Haywood gallery; it blew me away and I was amazed at how something so simple could change the whole atmosphere of a room.
Your light installations are certainly captivating. How do people respond to seeing them?
The responses so far have been extremely positive. I’ve always felt that art should be for anybody and everybody and have had many people coming up to me after viewing my work and saying that they don’t go to galleries as they find them intimidating. They’ve said I’m bringing art to the public and I suppose I’ve fulfilled this element without even realising it! Installations give accessibility to everyone. During my installation in Chalkwell Park, youngsters were picking the LED cubes up and moving them around and creating their own pieces. They stuck the LED’s in their skateboard ramps! It was really interesting to see their own creativity coming out of something I’d placed. That particular installation also made the park a safe place to walk through. It’s now open all night and many felt unsafe passing through it, but that changed when the installation was up. Light brings a sense of safety to people.
How long does an installation take you to set up, from concept to finished installation?
The Chalkwell Park project took two weeks to prepare. Once I’d come up with the idea and planning, I had to cut cubes out and then start gluing together the LED and batteries – I eventually had 400 cubes all lit up. I had a team of friends and family helping me stick them all together and that took about 40 mins to install them. After that it’s a case of watching and seeing people’s reactions. Whenever I do an installation or abstract photograph it’s so unpredictable. I always have a vision in my mind but I’m same as a viewer really. I’m trying to plan but you only have the one chance to get it right! I can’t rub it out and start again if it doesn’t look right! But each one is a learning curve so I never lose out. I always try to break the area I’m working in down and work out numbers so the chance of miscounting or things going wrong is minimal.
Do I plan ahead lots? No! I think if you think about something too much you don’t end up doing it. If you over analyse something you stop and anyway I’ve always gained experience whatever happens! You learn along the way! I did ask the parkeepers’ permission first at Chalkwell Park though! I’m not trying to make any political point or create any discomfort or aggravation so I always try to plan, get permission and to stage them where people will appreciate them
How does the weather affect your work (and your mood when having to create art in it!)?
I try to let it not affect me! When you’re working with landscape and nature it’s brilliant if the weather does stay good. I release leaflets and posters prior to the event to advertise it and it’s difficult to cancel unless it’s really severe weather! People do still turn up. However I like the rain – I think when art is involved it’s more atmospheric! The wind creates the same effect; a light cube will roll around in a strong breeze and that’s just as interesting as it being static.
So you don’t mind being exposed to the elements instead of producing your work inside a warm cosy studio?
No I don’t! I suppose I just love it so much. Sometimes if the weather’s not great it can be a bit difficult and cold and then I think how nice it would be to be inside with a cup of tea! But really I like being out in the elements. They really inspire me in what I do. I did used to work a lot indoors which was fine but I always felt really restricted. Faced with four white walls and an empty room I don’t feel as creative as when I’m outdoors. I’ve got inspiration from other artist’s whose works featured nature heavily; Turner would try and capture feelings of awe and admiration of how powerful nature is in his paintings and I suppose from that point of view it’s taken me to a point where I’m fascinated too. At night the landscape completely changes when you place light in it – it transforms it.
Do people visiting your installations get close-up to the pieces and feel they’re seeing ‘art’ or do they feel they’re part of an experience?
With a light installation, the art is around somebody when they enter, therefore it’s a different experience to viewing a painting. This form of art surrounds the viewer. They walk into the work and become almost part of it. That’s what I love about it; it’s that physicality of light and safety surrounding them.
What is your current project and when is it taking place?
At the moment I’m working on an installation in Southend down in Thorpe Bay. It’s part of the seafront and I’m going to be mapping the tide with lights as it goes out. I’ll be placing a line of LED’s across the beach which will create numourous lines of light as the tide’s receding and I’ll follow the wave patterns. People can watch and they’re more than welcome to help and trace the tide also. It’s a beautiful way of tracing a natural process. I was out there yesterday placing a few lights and doing some planning and I found it quite meditative. The actual event is on Thursday, 16th April 2009 at no earlier than 7.30 in the evening. I’ll probably use around a thousand led’s so it should be quite effective! It’s not a predictable experience but I try and overwhelm the viewer in scale with light and a large project often produces awe in the viewer.
How do people respond to your abstract photographs/resin boxes?
I haven’t yet had a lot of feedback but the comments I have had have been very positive. The fibre optic photos in particular were interesting to many; they were interested in the process and a lot of people commented on how they actually looked like paintings.
How do you get your ideas for your abstract photography?
Curiosity! Because we were in our first year at college when I made these I was always wondering how things are done. I love Ian davenport; he does the very straight drips running down canvas and from that work he started becoming fascinated by dripping paint. I went and constructed frames and then dripped my own paint over them. Then I tried mixing stuff into the paint and then I went onto resin. It takes me ages as it involves a lot of wrapping and layer-drying; one frame takes at least a month! Light installations really my main thing now. The resin boxes and photos are what people would buy but with the installations my reward is from people’s feedback and emotions.
You’re currently studying for your degree and have gained some valuable exhibition experience along the way. Do you feel, as an up-and-coming artist, that you know how to go about furthering your career when you’ve finished? Is there enough advice out there or do you put it down to luck?
I was originally very put off from ever entering the art world. I never thought I could do it. Then I just thought I’d take the gamble and maybe end up teaching. Now that I’m nearing the end of my training, I’ve changed my mind! Teaching is ok but personally I want to be out in the field before I teach. I have approached galleries and cafes that will display artwork and now two have my artwork up for sale. Also I’ve found The Artists Web to be a great tool; it’s all about getting yourself known. Doing the big installations gets me recognition so I tend to do that mostly now; besides, I enjoy it the most! People come and see what you’ve created and become part of the work itself. You get chatting and networking. It’s a case of being open, receptive and grabbing all the opportunities that comes your way. The Graduate Show in Brick Lane is in June, so lots of galleries will be viewing that. I will still do installations as much as possible and also still try to network.
We would like to thank Clare for her time and for her fascinating insights into her remarkable work. Visit Clare’s website for more information and pictures of her amazing abstract photography and light installations.