Meet the Artist: Claire Jarvis

Claire Jarvis works and lives in Northampton. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2009 she has since gone on to become an associate lecturer. Claire has exhibited nationally and internationally and has won various awards including The Stanley Smith Scholarship (2007), runner up for the Gordon Loot Award for Fine Art (2009) and first prize in painting from NDFAS (2005).

Claire Jarvis, Systemic (study #5), oil on canvas, 2016
Systemic (study #5), oil on canvas, 2016

Describe your practice for us

For me our surroundings are just a particular arrangement of ‘stuff’– hundreds and millions of Things – some static, some in motion. I often feel overwhelmed by the quantities of even the most unremarkable ‘stuff’ and their day-to- day significance within routine and structure. As a result I document and transcribe the sea of everyday objects through hyperrealist paintings describing the personal and psychological journey experienced while digesting the gaze of the everyday mundane. These building blocks are obsessively documented, studied and transcribed through oil on canvas, to the point where they grow to take on a hallucinatory and surreal journey incorporating phobias and fantasies brought on by the boredom of the paintings’ lengthy process and rigid constraints of everyday living.

Claire Jarvis, Systemic (study #1), oil on canvas, 2015
Systemic (study #1), oil on canvas, 2015

How long have you been practising?

Since 2003. I had a better understanding of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to pursue since my BA degree prior to this it was predominantly stumbling around trying to decide if I wanted to work in Morrisons or the local garden centre. It gave me space to think. Since then I graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2009 and quickly became a self-employed artist and part-time lecturer (with a bit of retail work thrown in).

Claire Jarvis, Ouroborus, oil on canvas, 2015
Ouroborus, oil on canvas, 2015

What is the most interesting/inspiring thing you have seen/been to over the last month, and why?

I’ve unfortunately had to spend a lot of time in Court recently. It’s certainly the most uncomfortable, absurd and altogether surreal environment I think I’ve ever experienced. Time seems to play by its own rules. Hour upon hour passes whilst waiting and watching for these seemingly huge decisions to be made in rooms saturated with anxiety and boredom while people flurry around in alien outfits. It’s all very strange and ultimately exhausting, all of your senses feel rung out. Things begin to make no sense.

Claire Jarvis, Systemic (study#4), oil on canvas, 2016
Systemic (study#4), oil on canvas, 2016

Which other artists’s work do you admire, and why?

I often find myself returning again and again to the anatomist Frederik Ruysch and his precise manipulation of subject matter into dioramas, the absurd honesty within Wolfgang Tillmans’ observations and the staging and referencing to painting within the films of Peter Greenaway. Another artist recently I’ve been interested in is Damien Mead’s paintings of abject objects. Ultimately the artists that inspire me the most are my colleagues and friends. They are the ones I can tangibly witness struggling to make sense of current times and their drive and determination to create helps me keep going with my own practice.

Claire jarvis, Once Again with Feeling, oil on canvas, 2016
Once Again with Feeling, oil on canvas, 2016

Where can people see your work?

At Albus 3 Arts (artist led studio and gallery space) within Northampton and on my website.

Claire Jarvis, Prop, oil on canvas, 2016
Claire Jarvis, Prop, oil on canvas, 2016



Claire was interviewed in October 2016.

Images courtesy of the artist and NN Contemporary Art. Photos by Joe Brown.

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