Claire Kerr. Golden Fleece Award Winner 2012

Medium: Visual Arts - Painting


Claire Kerr was also short listed for the Golden Fleece Award in 2007

Skides Icon Roses Postcards Carousel Stoma Tryptych


As a result of a group exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, I have been offered a one-person exhibition at Hakgojae Gallery, one of the premier contemporary art galleries in Seoul. In Korean, the gallery name signifies 'create things new by mastering things ancient' (a phrase which I think reflects the vision of the Golden Fleece Award) and the gallery space itself, an ultra-contemporary construction alongside a historic traditional Korean house, underlines this philosophy, as does the curatorial ethos: I was approached because it was felt that my work fits this conception of contemporary art. It would be particularly exciting for me, therefore, to show work in an environment that echoes so closely what I try to achieve in my paintings. While I am determined to take advantage of this opportunity to show my work abroad with a gallery of such high reputation, and to represent, in a small way, contemporary Irish painting in South Korea, it will be very difficult to achieve this goal without outside help. As my work is very labour-intensive, it can take up to a month to complete a painting, and the investment of time necessary to complete enough paintings for an exhibition means that it is not often feasible to take on other work at the same time so as to support myself through the process. The funding provided by the Golden Fleece would thus give me vital financial support, allowing me to dedicate myself wholly to completing a substantial body of work without the necessity of taking on other activities to support myself.

I would use the funding for subsistence, materials, high-quality framing, and transport and travel costs. I intend to apply to Culture Ireland for funding towards transport of works and travel to Korea to oversee installation, but they will not be able to cover the costs in full. Funding from the Golden Fleece would be used towards making up the balance. Culture Ireland do not provide funding for elaboration of projects as outlined above, and thus a Golden Fleece Award would offer irreplaceable support to make this international exhibition opportunity a reality.

Extract from Artist Statement

One of the most important areas of difference between a painting and an image made in another medium is its surface. The surface of a painting establishes, I feel, a particularly direct relationship between an image and its viewer, and this relationship is enhanced the more the viewer is drawn to engage with the painted, tangible surface. The way I hope to establish such a relationship is to paint on a relatively small scale using a very precise technique. This invites close observation on the part of the viewer, aiming to encourage a sense of pleasure in 'looking', and to provide a way into the other, narrative, formal and pictorial facets of the image.

Interacting with art-historical and contemporary sources and genres, my paintings often 'stage' and 'perform' representation itself (eg 'Slides'). The limitations and ambiguities involved in ways of seeing, thinking, and making on a two-dimensional surface are an important aspect of my work. My paintings thus invite an investment of attention by the viewer to release potential meanings from the figurative surface.

The apparent stability of the images, and their deceptively unified surface, belies their gradual emergence from a preliminary process of digital manipulation and collage, often from many visual sources. This long development pursues visual intensity and a kind of stillness that is augmented by the slow layering of paint over a long period. Simultaneously, the relatively small scale of the work aims to produce a concentration of meaning that fills/inhabits the space around it, enabling a close, one-to-one relationship with the viewer.

My work focuses on ways of thinking about and perceiving connections (both formal and metaphorical) between apparently varied subject-matter, rather than locating meaning in a specific repertoire of particular images or types of image. In my most recent work I have explored how meaning evolves from a network of kaleidoscopic experience involving the imagination of the viewer, the object, and curatorial conventions in the display and mediation of artefacts. 'Icon', for example, is a meditation on what it means to re-image as a painting an object that is not intended as 'art' but which exists as a conduit for prayer and devotion. The image also considers those further complications which so often accompany our experience of art and museum objects: in this case the reflection of spotlights, and the security wires and padlocks which surround the icon. Another recent project, 'Stoma', draws on the historical use of miniatures as personal objects, often kept near the body of the owner - a relationship that this work carries over into both the subject of the paintings (a cancer patient) and the medium, oil on vellum.

I feel that this layering process, or interweaving, of what might be called the building-blocks of putting together an image, contributes to a richness and an 'openness' in the finished work which is what can make painting such an extraordinarily rich medium in which to work and which means that its images cannot be entirely explained or given direct equivalents in words.