Artist/curator/writer Louise Clarke’s art practice embraces a range of media such as print, photography, drawing and recycled and scavenged materials to produce a variety of outcomes including installation, 2D and 3D works, multiples and architectural scale interventions.
These media are deployed in an ongoing interrogation of:
- the articulation of utopia as a means to satisfiy politics, social relationships, ambition and daydreaming
- the primal landscape as a blueprint throughout our lives, silently influencing our engagement with landscape and architecture
- the ‘feral’ as a way of working and as a subject matter: our battle to control nature’s encroachment in both the physical and primal emotional realms.
Her specialisms are printmaking and drawing, in their widest application, as equally valid platforms with which to address and engage current visual art practices, debates and research.
A recent (December 2015) curatorial output was :Xenotopia, a group exhibition of 14 artists including Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry and DMU alumni Theo Miller (artists: Emily Allchurch, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Berenika Boberska, Pablo Bronstein, Rachel Clewlow, Noémie Goudal, Sarah Anne Johnson, Katherine Jones, Catriona Leahy, Theo Miller, Paul Noble, Grayson Perry, David Price and Jenny Wiener). :Xenotopia was a wide-ranging creative audit of ‘out-of-place places’, particularly strange, fictitious architecture and ‘xenospaces’, imagined, meta-geographic locations that exist only theoretically, ethereally or subconsciously. ‘Xenotopia’ is a term coined by British writer Robert McFarlane to describe an uncanny landscape. Xeno is the Greek word for ‘other’, or that which is ‘different in origin’, while topia is the suffix deployed by Thomas Moore in his 1516 book, Utopia – a work of political philosophy manifested through the depiction of a fictionalized island society.
Through the expanded medium of print, each of the artists showing in :Xenotopia offered their own unique explorations and visualisations of similarly fictional but redolent places of psycho-geographic ambiguity or putative architectural fantasy. The works displayed a range of, often tangential, anachronistic or merely tenuous connections and approaches to the printmaking medium.
In 2016 Louise was invited to interview noted printmakers on the panel of the Make It Happen symposimum, the brainchild of artist and academic Ruth Sumner in tandem with Leicester Print Workshop, with the aim of interrogating methodology, practice and concept through printmaking.
A passionate advocate of drawing as a universal language, her practice, commentary and curation has been recognised internationally. She has previously led drawing symposia in Slovakia, Ecuador, Russia and Libya supported by the British Council. She has collaborated with artists and architects in drawing-related exhibitions in LA and Chicago and group exhibitions in Finland as well as group and solo exhibitions in the UK.
Louise has co-curated and programmed public art events through the Big Draw campaign since 2000, working with institutions such as the British Museum, The Natural History Museum and the V&A. In a similar role, Louise has worked with English Heritage as lead artist in a range of site-specific art projects.
Her fictional writing and cultural commentary are both a tool for research enquiry and collaboration as well as an explorative medium with which to articulate creative outputs. She writes a regular column in the quarterly The Saatchi Gallery Magazine: Art & Music and was its guest editor for a 2011 issue dedicated to the question ‘Is drawing still relevant?’, synthesising the work and critical thinking of a variety of cultural practitioners in order to survey drawing’s currency. The same year she judged the Saatchi Showdown: Drawing Competition alongside artist Dexter Dalwood.
Louise is currently working on both a publication and a further drawing-based exhibition related to :Xenotopia.
Louise Clarke graduated from Central St Martins in 1997 and gained her MA from the Royal College Of Art in 1999 and was a Fellow of the RCA in 2000. She was formerly assistant to the late artist Helen Chadwick.