When we gaze at a portrait, why do we see a face rather than the collection of lines, shapes and colours on a flat surface it’s actually made from?
This is an extreme example but it highlights the slippery nature of the gaze, rooted as it is in fantasy and flawed notions of reality, revealing how susceptibile it is to manipulation. The act of looking calls into question the self-understanding of the one who observes, destabilising the security of their position and shaking them out of their personal comfort zone. This can be perceived as a threat but it also opens them up to change, encouraging them to explore and perhaps adopt perspectives that differ from views they would normally hold.
The gaze is used as a device to channel the values of our modern patriarchally-based society, such as helping perpetuate the characteristics of the stereotype. My work explores how the slightest shift in meaning can expose, undermine, and subvert such devices, or even replace them with new non-stereotypical values. My particular interest is in finding ways to portray the female image that expose cultural conventions, reject possession of feminised perfection, and offer a feminised gaze that is valued and assertive.
I work primarily with images appropriated from current magazines and sources such as 1870’s visiting cards or 1930’s film star promotional material, valuing photographs taken by others as they come accompanied by their own cultural reading. This provides me with raw materials to examine, wrestle with, exploit, adapt and transform to my own ends, transmuting them into constructed collages; hybrid female faces. Operating within the aesthetic of the pre-exiting image, the intention is to create something new that remains both in keeping and at odds with the nature of its source material.
I also produce text-based pieces of work, prints and mixed-media sculpture.
My research-based blog: http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/single/2831499
My studio practice blog: clairemanningart.wordpress.com
Qualifications and training
- 2010 BA Fine Art, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury
- 2012 Red, Making Art Work Gallery, Maidstone, Kent
- 2012 Text, Making Art Work Gallery, Maidstone, Kent
- 2012 Shoes, Cultivate Gallery, Vyner Street, London
- 2012 E17 Art Trail, E17 Art Trail, London
- 2012 All at Sea, The Pie Factory, Margate
- 2012 Memoria Technica, The Nunnery, London
- 2011 I's, Shes, Hers, Ours, London
- 2010 Battle Contemporary Fine Art Exhibition, Battle
- 2010 Neither Use nor Ornament, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury
- 2010 Degree Show, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury
Web links - gallery/work/projects