Claire Malet will be exhibiting with Bishopsland at Collect
Our Directory Maker of the Week, Claire Malet talks to us about getting into making, what inspires her and what she loves most about her work
Who or what got you into making?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a ‘maker’. My childhood was full of creative activities. I had a very good art teacher who encouraged me; my artwork at school was not conventionally ‘good’, but I guess he spotted my enthusiasm.
Tell us a bit about your work
I make sculptural vessels and objects. I work in precious, base and found metals; I love the different characteristics of each metal, their natural qualities, the surprising pallet of colours. I work as directly as possible with the metals, aiming to capture an immediacy, in a similar way to drawing: working with tin-plate steel is akin to drawing with pen and ink - there is a clarity of mark and line, while the softness and light qualities found in silver can have the feel of a charcoal drawing, allowing me to ‘smudge’ and highlight.
I am drawn to vessel forms, both organic and man-made. Vessels are one of the most basic and universal of objects, in daily mundane use and playing vital roles at occasions of celebration and honour. ‘Vessels’ found in nature, catching the eye on a beach for example, have done their job, briefly becoming relics before decay continues the constant cycle of production. Through my work with ‘found’ metal cans, I am exploring ideas of production, transformation, renewal through decay and reuse, and perceived value; taking a throw-away, man-made, mass-produced food can, I ‘transform’ it into a ‘precious’ vessel, each piece taking on a new form. In contrast, working in silver I start with a fresh ‘blank’ sheet of ‘precious’ metal, from which grow pieces which celebrate and focus on natural objects and forms.
I have just finished a group of pieces in silver to be exhibited with Bishopsland at Collect 2017: ’Flurry’ consists of articulated garlands of leaves, inspired by the transient raw beauty of partially eroded hazel leaves, skittering in the winter wind, before they are absorbed back into the landscape.
What are your inspirations?
My work is inspired by natural forms and landscapes. I walk the fields, hills and woodland surrounding my studio in Herefordshire, and take trips to explore other landscapes, regularly walking coast paths and beaches. My eye will be caught by a curl of split bark, a seed pod, an eroded rock face, a snaking ancient path, the skeletal shadows of winter trees. I am less interested in copying nature than in capturing a sense of it, my response to it, to record a transient moment.
As I said, I also draw inspiration directly from the natural qualities and characteristics of the metals I work with; it is vital to me that the medium is also allowed to suggest a direction; and that the work reflects the relationship between the materials and the natural environment from which they originally came.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
Walking, looking, the thrill of a new idea arriving in my mind. Back in the studio, beginning, experimenting, improvising, allowing the metal to play.
What are you working on right now?
I am delighted to be starting work on a silver commission for The P & O Makower Trust, for the collection at National Museum Wales.