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Claire Barclay

Pale Heights

Claire Barclay devises her installations in dialogue with the exhibition space: its architecture, its history, the different uses that it may have had. Rather than making specific references to this space, her installations are concerned with the atmosphere that it radiates and trigger open narratives. Her work combines familiar materials such as leather, earth, fabric, wool, straw and metals, many materials which usually “have been used to make the objects that shape our lives for a very long time”, generating intensely tactile environments.
Conceived specifically for Mudam, her installation Pale Heights is articulated around a structure of wood and metal which is laid out over different zones of the exhibition space. This structure compartmentalises the space without partitioning it, it complexes it. It also creates more intimate areas in which other elements of smaller dimensions can coexist. The installation invites the eye to wander, to move back and forth between different points of view and different scales, between overall pictures and meticulously worked details.
Claire Barclay often evokes a certain ambiguity when discussing her works, describing them as “objects in states of transition or chaos… objects which carry a certain confusion in their own identity”. This ambiguity is found again in the different methods of production that her works reflect – handmade, craftsmanship, industrial – ending up as objects “both recognisable and foreign, domestic and industrial, contemporary and ancient”. The artist works regularly in collaboration with craftsmen and specialists in various fields, and her work renegotiates the distinctions traditionally accepted between different artistic techniques and between art, design and craftsmanship.
The elements that her installations present often seem to be arranged intuitively. Barclay conceives these objects as uncompleted elements and compares her installations to combinations which could occur in her studio, during experimentations. She talks of her exhibitions as “pauses in an ongoing process”: “I like to install the work in ways which try to retain a sense of immediacy; to suggest that the object hasn’t yet found its place or meaning.”


  • Christophe Gallois

    Clément Minighetti