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by Claire Partington


The subjects for my work come from varied sources: contemporary culture, traditional children’s rhymes and folk tales. I’m fascinated by transformation tales and their imagery; from the traditional up to the Power Rangers and contemporary kids cartoons.


The aesthetic inspiration is drawn largely from European Applied Art and Design styles from the 1600’s onwards. Underpinning this long European tradition of appropriation and reinterpretation or misinterpretation of “exotic” styles that can be seen in National Collections across Europe. I like the idea of getting it slightly wrong and the bluffing and “cobbling together” of styles that has produced some fantastic historical object and continues most notably in the tradition of Outsider Art.


I started making sprigged vessels inspired by the salt glazed “bartmann” vessels, but with the look of tin glazed earthenware from the 1600’s. This evolved into the fully figurative vessels I’m making at present, starting with the bottle shaped mantua dresses. The figures often have interchangeable head “stoppers” to reflect the transformation of the subject and to allow a sense of play with the object.


My work has a very familiar feel to it due to the historical and literary references, even though it has it’s own very definite aesthetic.