In The Studio: Clare Woods, artist
'We sculptors worked in a shed while the painters had the nice studios'
Saturday 18 August 2012
"I always thought I was not good enough to be a painter", confesses Clare Woods as we stand in her studio. "I studied as a sculptor at Bath, where there was separation between painting and sculptors. We sculptors were in a shed at the back and the painters had the nice studios at the front. I still have that feeling."
Surprisingly modest words from a painter who has had two museum shows in the last year, at the Hepworth Wakefield and the Southampton City Art Gallery, and has recently completed an enormous project for the Olympic Delivery Authority – two walls together totalling 125 metres long composed from paintings transformed into 88,000 mosaic tiles in each.
Woods left London with her husband, fellow artist Des Hughes, for the countryside, settling in Kington, a small town in Herefordshire. With two small children, it seemed the right move, and perhaps not a surprising one for Woods, whose work derives its inspiration from landscape.
Her studio is not in a charming old cottage, but on a small industrial estate, in an inevitable metal shed, which gets so cold in winter, she says, that it is almost impossible to work in. She keeps her library in an office at home, only allowing the books she is referring to in the studio. Having moved to the country and surrounded herself by the subject that kick-started her career, Woods suggests that her practice is changing. She picks up a book on Francis Bacon, showing me the Tate's famous Crucifixion triptych. "I have been examining how he made the orange, all its layers." Nearby lies a book on Louise Bourgeois, another powerful influence. "How did she make that?' she marvels, peering at a Bourgeois textile head.
All the works in progress are in a new material for Woods: oil paint. "I cleared out all the gloss paints", she says. Woods's foray into oils has been a productive experiment, evidenced by a striking work in progress based on a detail from a stained-glass window. A finished work glows at the end of the studio, based, she tells me, on a Henry Moore head.
"Having not been formally trained as a painter, I am making it all up as I go", though she semi-jokes that her qualifications include winning a paper-snowflake contest aged five. "I wish I had more time to read," she continues earnestly. "I want to think more so I can be a better artist."
Clare Woods: The Dark Matter, Southampton City Art Gallery (023 8083 3007 ) to 2 September
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
X Factor 2014: Movie Week sends Jay James and co. into karaoke mode
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
Downton Abbey: Can a lord's best friend last for ever...even if she's called Isis?
Portfolio: Amit and Naroop
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are