CLARE BONNET

Stroud-based artist Clare Bonnet graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Leeds University in 2004, which included a year studying painting at the Accademia di Belle Arte di Brera in Milan.

Clare’s intention in her work is to portray the truth of the female experience. “I am interested in repetition in womanhood – generational cycles, entrenched societal expectations, personal stories that link us all, the dualities of female identity and of how finely balanced those various roles are. In essence, the Narrative of Female, past, present and future.”

Her most recent body of work marks a shift in painting style and technique from a formal quality with bold, broad brushstrokes to freer, flatter forms, thinner paint and a focus on the drawn line. The imposed confinement of lockdown and subsequent opening up of life again encouraged Clare to experiment, explore and play. The title of her current series of oil paintings speaks volumes: ‘FREE, BIG, JOY’. She describes these works as “gestural expressions of the female form reclaiming space in a ‘post’ Covid era”. Anonymous female figures sit, stand and dance in interior scenes suggested by geometric blocks of colour in a limited yet confident palette.

In Clare’s latest pieces, she is deliberately turning away from the world of the digital, NFTs and perfection by building out the surfaces of her paintings with cut wooden shapes that she nails on with small carpenter’s pins. As well as playing with the dynamism of the figures and with the viewer’s interaction with the picture plane, the addition of these sections of board is, Clare says, “an unashamed nod to the hand of the artist”.

As well as oil paintings on panel, Clare is currently making joyful and loose ultramarine monotypes (single prints) of female figures, which she creates by transferring oil relief ink from a printing plate to archival paper. “The monotypes act as a sketching process during the development of the paintings and are immediate, loose and incredibly enjoyable to make (and physical – I make the large ones on the floor while standing above them). The results are all one-offs. It really suits a gestural approach and allows lots of movement in each piece. The opportunity for experimentation is liberating and exciting!”.

In 2017 Clare was selected by the Affordable Art Fair Battersea team to paint the portrait of the winner of their spring fair portrait competition. She frequently paints portraits for private clients and welcomes new commissions. Her work is widely exhibited at art fairs and gallery shows around the UK, including solo exhibitions at Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford in 2018 and 2022 and group exhibitions there in 2020 and 2021. Her work was featured in the group show Show of Hands at the SVA John Street Gallery, Stroud, in December 2021, at Battersea Affordable Art Fair with Gala Fine Art in March 2022 and in a two-person show at Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford in autumn 2022. Clare’s work will be on Gala Fine Art’s stand at Battersea Affordable Art Fair again in March 2023.