Clare Holdstock is a Hull born contemporary artist who studied at Camborne College in London before returning to her city of birth to add a little something of her own to the City of Culture 2017.
As Queens House Showcase is hosting her Ruin Value Exhibition, we got her take on the display and her work in general.
“I’ve always been interested in modernist architecture, materials and smooth, linear forms so now I mostly work in architectural sculpture using industrial materials like concrete and, for this show, metal and resin. I explore urban environments and modernist architecture, which developed in the 20th century when architects started looking at the world around them; at boats and factories and all of these really amazing feats of engineering, and thinking this should be applied to buildings as well. It was all very utopian, but it was the inspiration for many council estates and brutalist buildings that are derided today and I find that interesting.
“A lot of these estates didn’t have enough care and they were just left to crumble. That’s where my idea for Ruin Values comes from, because a lot of people are living in these buildings until they are demolished. People see them as ruinous and these really horrible places to live, but it’s sometimes just about perception.”
Who’s Afraid of the Bauhaus
“The works in the exhibition are contemporary, based on painting and basic sculpture, but moving away. For example, there’s Who’s Afraid of the Bauhaus, the cotton banner on the wall. I wanted to use it to refer back to these architectural histories and the utopian roots of them. So the word Bauhaus is there because it was originally a utopian word and the font that it’s in was inspired by William Morris, who wanted design and art to be merged together to improve people’s situation in the 19th century. His ideas informed the Bauhaus Movement.
“The work is painted on cotton to illustrate social issues. If you think of protests, images are painted on banners and brought into a political environment, they use the craft as a tool of communication. It’s a comment on social issues. It’s supposed to be quite bold and assertive, celebratory and also dytopian to reflect how the Bauhaus movement was used.”
“The ruin trees sit looking quite spindly and playful in the centre of the space. I’ve seen a lot of spindly, playful sculptures recently and quite enjoyed it. I think these metal structures can look a bit personified, like people or creatures that have personalities and that was the intention. I wanted to play around with these scultupures that are in all kinds of buildings. Behind every concrete facade is a metal under-structure and I wanted to speak about that.
“Also the sculptures were informed by derelict roadsigns that you see by the road, because I see personalities in them – They always seem a bit out of place and forgoten about on the side of the road.
“That goes back to Ruin Value, an idea from modernist architecture, which states that architecture should look great in a state of ruin, and how such ruins could portray a great civilisation. It’s about looking at things after they’ve been inhabited or used by people and what that period of time means.”
“The trees look forlorn and a bit sad instead of great, but they are based on signs that were great feats of engineering in themselves and that says a lot about how great, crazy and wasteful our civilisation is.”
“The polestyrene S’s [often seen in packaging] are there for the same reason. They’re often left by the wayside and they say a lot about where the human race is at this time and how we’re just starting to realise that it creating all of these plastic things was quite stupid. It’s so permanent and it really says a lot about people.”
Where Does Clare Go From Here?
“I’ve always been interested in this type of architecture, so it’s continuing on those ways. I’m just getting interested in forms and repetition, like the Ss on the Ruin Trees, so that is probably where it will go from here.”