I became acquainted with artist Clare Allan around seven years ago. At this time, I owned a gallery and interiors shop in Hayfield, close to New Mills where Clare is based. I felt an instant connection to Clare's artwork as she captures the very essence of the subjects in the drawings she creates. Clare's work embodies a tangible sense of place, with a deep connection to nature and the landscapes which inspire her work.
The first piece of Clare's work I saw was of Kinder Scout called "...but I am a free man on Sundays" . The title refers to the Mass Trespass of 1932, the political (and moral) fight for the right of walkers to roam the countryside. Four hundred people marched on Kinder Scout to protest being denied the right to roam, an action which ultimately led to the creation of the National Parks.
I purchased a print of Swizzell's Hill 2 from an exhibtion Clare held in New Mills, this pieces now hangs in my sitting room. This piece is meaningful for me as it is the road between Hayfield and New Mills. I journeyed along this road so many times passing the Swizzell's sweet factory, an iconic local landmark. I love the gothic feel of this print, a snowy scene of a small town, surrounded by vast, wild landscapes.
Clare's love of the region where she grew up is evident by the warmth she captures in her artwork, be that natural moments from the surrounding countryside to the atmosphere of everyday life and industrial heritage of the Derbyshire mill town she calls home. The dichotomy of nature and industry is evident, and it is not difficult to see why both the wild, raw beauty of the Peak District landscape with the juxtaposition of everyday scenes of industrial New Mills offer such rich and fascinating subjects.
I asked Clare to share her creative journey here on the journal. Over to you Clare...
My journey as an artist (in a nutshell)
There are many people who would love to work as an artist. Not everyone has the opportunity or support behind them to be able to follow this path. I am one of the lucky ones.
I graduated from Hull University with a degree in Fine Art in 1991. There being no set career pathway for an artist I had to find my own. After leaving college I worked for several years as a jobbing artist, painting murals and doing illustration work while supplementing my income as a cleaner.
Later I worked as a Community Artist and then as a Teaching Assistant, at the same time making my own art. It took some time, a lot of hard work (and a supportive husband and family!) but I now work as a full time artist and produce large landscape drawings, paintings and prints.
I live and work in my home town of New Mills in Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District. The grit stone landscape and industrial heritage of the area proves much of the inspiration for my work. Walking is one of my great passions, and l love being immersed in the landscape of home. I often walk my drawings before they appear on paper.
Working in charcoal, I create large originals which I then layer with coloured pastel or acrylic glazes. I sketch composition ideas in situ, take lots of reference photos and bring it all together in the studio. Here is a recent commissioned piece, ‘First light on Primrose Lane’, a record of lockdown walks at dawn. I try to capture the feeling of the places I draw, combining several viewpoints and distorting perspective to encase the view.
Often it is a moment in time that I want to record, or a special place and how it feels to be there. I pay particular attention to the natural world, depicting birds, animals and plants as
accurately as I can, but in my own style. While the places I draw are real, they often contain a large dollop of artistic license!
Drawing is the creative starting point for us all, before the confidence of early childhood is lost. Marks made in the mud with a stick, fingers tracing lines on misty windows. Drawings are the bare bones of everything, lines and shapes make up the skeletons of people and places. In an age of visual sophistication, with computers and digital imagery, I enjoy the simplicity of drawing, and try to find ways to represent the world beyond photographic reproduction.
I admire and am influenced by artists that have a strong graphic element to their work. I love the etchings and drawings of Durer, the beautiful line work of Egon Schiele, the simple power of Georgia O’ Keefe’s paintings, and the stylisation of Eric Ravilious’s illustrations.
Currently I am returning to my first love of etching, and am working towards a solo show in the autumn. For more information, and to receive an invitation to the Private View, please sign up to my mailing list via my website.
My work is available as original drawings and etchings, high quality archival prints on paper and canvas, and affordable cards and posters. I believe in art for the people, and try to make something for every budget.
Thank you for taking time to read this, and thank you Sharon for sharing my work. It is much appreciated.
Thank you Clare for sharing your story, I am always fascinated by the creative journey an artist makes and love to understand more about the artist behind the art. You can see more of Clare's work at clareallanart.com, Instagram @clareallanart and over on Facebook