Meet the artist – Claire Curtin

Claire CurtinIn a series of blog posts we will get to know the artists who will be taking part in our Microresidencies project a little better.  Next up is Claire Curtin who will be resident in Work in Progress from Sat 9 – Fri 15 August.

Hi Claire, nice to meet you! Please can you introduce yourself…

I am an artist from Manchester who specialises in Printmaking. My current practice focuses on portraiture and social activism. I produce portraits of people I admire, this might be because of their involvement in civil rights and peacekeeping or because of something they have done like producing great music or art. I try to convey the character of the person by producing simple, expressive line drawings that I usually translate in to lino prints. I am influenced by current affairs, politics, music and people.

To vent my frustrations I produce work in response to current affairs and politics; this usually manifests itself in expressive and rather unflattering portraits of politicians. Some of these drawings have been developed in to screen printed political placards and books.

I am an Artist Educator; teaching helps to keep my practice up to date and relevant, through teaching I am constantly learning about new artists and ideas.

I am interested in materials and process; I like to experiment with new techniques and problem solving. This is why I usually end up in the print workshop. I find that the process of printmaking helps me to further develop my ideas and plan new work.

What attracted you to apply for the Microresidencies project? Have you done anything like this before?

I thought that the Microresidency project was a really good idea and I was really excited to see that the People’s History Museum was running it.

I think that the museum is a great setting for this and I was attracted to it because I feel that the residency will compliment and enhance my practice. I was also really excited by the audience participation aspect to the project.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re planning on doing for your Microresidency….

I will make work in response to the museum’s theme: There have always been ideas worth fighting for. I will look at current affairs and social issues and try to highlight these with my work. This will involve making placards, writing letters (to MPs/Newspapers/Ofcom) and producing satirical collages from the day’s news.

I will be making work all week and I would like the visitors to come and join in and make political works of their own.

I will use social media and a blog to record the progression of the residency and to highlight the issues that people want to fight for.

At the end of the residency I intend to hold a demonstration on the theme of There have always been ideas worth fighting for. I will invite the visitors to take part in the demonstration, highlighting the issue that they have been fighting for.

What should our visitors expect when they come to your studio?

 Visitors should expect to be able to take part in making protest works. We’ll be making placards, satirical collages, rubber protest stamps (socialist stamp making?) and writing letters. I’d also like to facilitate a political printmaking workshop during the week.

Do you have a favourite object/display in the PHM?

I like lots of objects in the museum; I love all the campaign posters and comparing how they have evolved over time and how they are referred to in current campaign material. I love the protest posters, banners and badges. One of my favourite objects is the Stop the War poster because I remember carrying a placard just like it.

If you could meet any person living or dead, who would it be?

 Where do I start? I could write a long list but the problem is that I know that I wouldn’t be able to keep my cool. I once met a musician and I went quite hysterical, I gave him a portrait and he was sweet and seemed quite humbled by it but it has put me off approaching my heroes!

If you had a time machine that could only go forwards or backwards in time, would you like to see the past, or visit the future?

That’s complicated, I think if I went back I would feel a great responsibility as well as a great temptation to ‘mess with things’ whereas going forwards would be curious but then you would not have anything to look forward to when you went back to ‘now’. So I think I would go back, I probably would try to meet some of my heroes and try to keep my cool.

What’s your idea worth fighting for?

There are lots of campaigns that I feel very strongly about; free universal education for girls and boys, free universal healthcare for all, protecting our NHS from any further cuts or privatisation, etc. But I think if there was one thing I could change in the UK it would be to get rid of all nuclear weapons. I don’t understand why we have them in this country. Our governments could never justify using them. If the argument is on defence then I’d like to be clear that I would rather die than be culpable for the use of nuclear weapons.

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