Claire Barclay



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Not on display

Claire Barclay born 1968
Screenprint on paper
Image: 580 × 410 mm
frame: 715 × 540 × 30 mm
Purchased 2012


      This is one of four unique screenprints by Claire Barclay in Tate’s collection (Tate P80037–40) from an untitled 2010 series made up of six individual prints and one diptych. Although each print is an independent work, the same abstract forms repeat and mutate across all of them, creating a shared vocabulary. These include ovoid and circular shapes, as well as long, finger-like forms that have one rounded end and one straight end. All of the shapes appear in a restricted palette of fleshy pink and black. The prints have a dynamic spatial quality, created through the overlapping and stacking of forms.

Barclay created these screen prints in response to an invitation to make and present new work for her 2010 solo exhibition Overlap at Glasgow Print Studio, having begun working with screen printing not long before. The artist has described finding parallels with her approach to making sculpture, which is the practice for which she is better known: ‘A few years ago, I started experimenting with screen printing onto paper, and by chance found that the bold graphic quality of these prints was interesting alongside my sculptural work. I have developed this departure in my practice in a very intuitive way, making prints spontaneously from images made using cut paper shapes.’ (Barclay, correspondence with Tate curator Katharine Stout, February 2011.) Barclay experimented with a number of improvised shapes to make these one-off screenprints. She then edited them into a small group, and they can be exhibited together or independently.

Barclay’s sculptural works are largely non-figurative, exploring formal and conceptual concerns through an exploration of everyday and precious materials, such as turned wood, soft leather, machined brass, woven straw and handmade fabrics (see, for example, Quick Slow 2010, Arts Council Collection, London, and Trappings 2014, National Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh). She has deployed both craft techniques and mechanical processes to create and assemble objects that evoke their original form and function but take on new meaning in relation to each other and the space in which they are sited. Her prints relate closely to her sculptural practice through their experimentation of how solid forms relate to one another in space, only in two dimensions instead of three. Barclay has commented further on the origins of her screen printing practice and its relationship to her sculptural work:

I see a correlation between the way I make sculpture and the way I have developed my technique of screen printing. In both instances I am working intuitively without a design but with a tight control of the medium. The use of solid colour, the limited palate [sic], (often black), the use of layering, the relationship of one shape to another, are in common with both practices. The placement of shapes on the page is like arranging objects in space and the production of a series of printed images like the related elements in my installations.

The artist has also outlined how her prints relate to the human body and perception:

The resulting works, despite their naive aesthetic, prompt subtle references to psychological relationships. The images are suggestive of the body, or bodies, or parts of the body, or functions or movements of the body, and at the same time also suggest inanimate functional objects. The simplicity of the combinations of geometric and abstract shapes perhaps triggers our inherent ability to anthropomorphise what we see. Despite the unsophisticated bold graphic quality of the shapes and the rudimentary process of production, they seem able to communicate something more ambiguous and sensitive about the intimacy between objects and beings.
(Barclay, correspondence with Tate curator Katharine Stout, February 2011.)

Barclay is one of a group of British sculptors whose work came to attention in the mid- to late 1990s. Her work was featured in the exhibition Early One Morning at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2002, which also included Jim Lambie, Eva Rothschild and Gallery Webb.

   Further reading
   Early One Morning, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2002, pp.87–107.
Claire Barclay: Openwide, exhibition catalogue, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2009.
Claire Barclay: Overlap, exhibition guide, Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow 2010.

   Katharine Stout
   March 2011
Arthur Goodwin
December 2018

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