From her earliest memory, being anything other than an artist was never a consideration for Claire Burbridge. One of twins born to seventies’ London—then raised between Scotland’s rugged west coast and the rolling hills of rural Somerset—Claire’s perspective, her flair,
reflects her absorption and understanding of both the urban and the rustic environment.
To describe Claire’s style of work is like trying to define the ocean. Her art has a heartfelt spontaneity. It is at once unpredictable and possessed by minutiae, by intricate detail. Claire has an unmistakable style; a fluency in a visual language that is completely her own.
Observations of the endless creativity and form of the natural world are her greatest inspiration. Fascinated by close scrutiny of a spider’s web, the structure of gills on a mushroom, the reflective quality of fish scales or butterfly wings—a drifting birds feather or a piece of lichen- fallen from a tree—all have played their part in her work.
Encounters with the wilderness—of vast open spaces—inspire Claire’s art. Norway, Oregon and Namibia in particular, where geographical grandeur vies with bold colours, has imprinted on the artist’s mind indelible memories; enthralling scenarios on which Claire has based much of her body of work.
Claire’s work reflects a constant exchange between spontaneous, intuitive decisions on subject and colour, and the underlying order that governs each work’s basic structure. These supporting matrices — based on ideas such as Fibonacci sequencing, the golden section and the geometric proportions found in traditional Islamic design — reflect the recurring patterns found in nature at both the macro and micro levels, and may impart either an explicit fundamental structure to a work, or an implicit governing principle — or both.
Lacking energy after the birth of her baby she began creating delicate thread and wire stitched figures which eventually found their way into large-scale wall pieces. She has learned how to crochet wire, developing a peculiar left-handed technique to intricately link together strands of metal thread (bronze, stainless steel, copper, nickel silver, gold, titanium), embroidery threads, and wire-threaded objects.
Her sculptures encompass a wealth of found objects: feathers, glass fragments, semi-precious stones, thread, remnants of antique fabrics, lace and amber. Claire is a forager of art and ideas. Though, she delights in using mundane materials—a piece of fishing line, for example—and exploring their intrinsic beauty; the beauty of something seemingly-lifeless reincarnated when interwoven with colours and textures.
Pieces are often modular and reversible, adding a great versatility to the display possibilities of the work giving each curator and exhibition space creative input of its own. She holds the firm belief that the best work is born through spontaneous collaboration.
Claire’s latest foray is into wallpapers, a journey borne from her desire to work in an infinitely large medium, following her 2017 show with Nancy Toomey. The papers reflect nature encapsulated through observational drawing, the play of light on form; both a mode unfettered and means to bring unframed fine art drawings and verdure into the homes and work spaces of dreamers; those city dwellers whose hearts belong in nature.
During a visit to Miami one December, I would go for a walk by the beach most evenings; I love the fragile ecosystem that, with nature’s ingenuity, thrives on the sand approaching the ocean. I was particularly drawn to the shape and waxy touch of the leaves of the Sea Grape — Coccoloba uvifera — and collected some to study as they dried.
Lichens, mosses and fungi have existed in symbiosis with one another for eons. And, with the plant life around them representing a fundamental element of ecosystems in many habitats, even inside caves. The simplicity of their forms belies the complexity of their functions, and their ubiquity and longevity prove a primordial wisdom. Here their delicate forms coexist in an imagined cave setting: bioluminescent fungi, mosses and ferns making their endless exchanges.
In our garden we have three mature cedar trees. This year one of them produced a profusion of gorgeous, resinous cones. The squirrels went mad for them, feverishly deconstructing them to their basic building blocks — the triangular forms that are the essence of this design.
I am a keen forager and over the years I have revelled in learning about wild edibles. This design champions some of the magical edible and medicinal plants that live in our garden and the surrounding land year round. You can even go out on a frosty morning and find some nutritious leaves. This fact has always reminded me of nature’s never-ending abundance. This design comes from a pigment pencil drawing on black paper; the forms are enlarged in the design to accentuate the expression of the mark-making. It reminds me of chalk drawings on a blackboard. This is a bold, large-scale design.
Every year some amazing plant seems to volunteer in our kitchen garden. The ‘Sunflowers’ design has immortalised one of these awe inspiring plant beings; a stunning 10 ft, multi-headed, multi-coloured sunflower. It bloomed for months over the summer, emitting the most intoxicating fragrance. You could hear its attraction from a distance, as it was a mecca for the bees. I spent a bliss filled month drawing the sunflower’s blooms, feeling sure that its message of happiness would be encapsulated in this wallpaper.
After a summer enthralled by the resplendence of our medusa-like sunflower plant, when its bloom came to an end, the plant took on a new life in death. Inspired by the seed heads of the very same behemoth of a sunflower that gave birth to the ‘Sunflowers’ wallpaper, this piece represents the changing seasons, resurrection, and nature’s often magical ability to renew itself afresh. The design functions as a vertical stripe pattern.
NIGHT GARDEN 2
I am a keen forager and over the years I have revelled in learning all about wild edibles. This design champions some of the magical edible and medicinal plants that live in our garden and the surrounding land year round. You can even go out on a frosty morning and find some nutritious leaves. This fact has always reminded me of Nature’s never-ending abundance. This design originated from two pigment pencil drawings, combined in a half drop format. The forms are true to size of the originals. I have included some of my favorite finds; a bald hornets nest and a black oak gall attached to an oak leaf.
SCREEN PRINT WALLPAPERS
INTAGLIO | INSECTS
When I moved to Oregon, it was mid-December, and the house we were renting had some interesting beetles overwintering in it. Over the coming months I became fascinated by the incredible diversity of insect life inside and outside the house and eventually did many drawings based on this exciting world.
This wallpaper comes from a four plate etching I made, which represented the beginning of my foray into wallpapers, as the four plates enabled a print that, if collaged together, could grow to infinity — a good visual metaphor for the world of insects.
I intentionally designed this to show the processes this wallpaper was born from; The feeling of the block print method gives it a handmade look, reminiscent of the first wallpaper printing techniques. These wallpapers are screen printed and can therefore be custom printed in other colors.