Interview with Clare Crines for LoopIn exhibition, September 2020.

Loopin is an exhibition at Six Foot Gallery, opening on 8th October 2020. The exhibition is a collaboration between Glasgow based artists Clare Crines and Sharon Thomas. The show discusses the pairs mental health, and their experiences and experiments with art during this uncertain year. Below is the transcription of the interview that took place with Clare Crines, and she talks about her lockdown experience and how it has impacted her art practise.

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-Lara Dingemans: Do you think collaborations between artists are more important during these times in order to create a stronger sense of community or personal connection?

-Clare Crines: For sure, I certainly do it’s important to collaborate with others rather than just being going in isolation and going solo. It is in order to create a stronger sense of community and personal connection. Working with Sharon is really interesting because she has episodes where she goes blank and I have, just recently been through a period where my mind was just overloaded and so there is a polar opposite there which is really quite nice to explore in the exhibition. And the sense of community is something that happens in most exhibitions when artists are there because they are displaying their work for the community and so therefore that’s important too.

-LD: How was your mental health affected by lockdown, would you say it gave you more space to work on it or was it heightened by chaos around you, or somewhere in between?

-CC: It was somewhere in between, it was kind of heightened by the chaos around me and just the isolation that that caused was quite harrowing really. And it gave me, a lot of artists, focus on their work but because I had been ill it was actually- I couldn’t focus on my work at all so I didn’t have any work to focus on and it was when Sharon asked me to be part of the exhibition, after you know, although she had asked me before lockdown, it was after lockdown before I was able to address it.

-LD: How has the environment around you affected the way you worked? i.e were you working in a domestic environment surrounded by personal connections? Or did you manage to create some flow between private environments and creative/professional ones?

-CC:I was working in a professional environment in the studio for this exhibition and so everything I’ve done here has been done in the studio and not at home. And that helps me actually to be around the artwork that I’ve already done from previous exhibition and as a starting- well not really starting, but a spring board but it just is a nice environment to work in and ideas bounce of each other you know, and its important for me to be in a professional environment setting when I’m doing my work.

-LD: Do you find your perception of Time changed during your experience of quarantine? If so how did this change relate to your mental health issues and your work? 

-CC: Well that’s a really interesting question because I’m always pressured for time and I always have been pressured for time running a gallery and trying to make my own practise, my own work. So therefore having more time actually allowed me to do – I found I got little jobs done around the house done quicker because I had an infinite amount of time in lock down and so house hold chores became less of a, not a problem but less of a chore and I found that I would work faster when I didn’t have the time limits.

-LD: Did you find yourself experimenting with different media that you wouldn’t have used before? Why and in what way? 

-CC: Yes I have, I have been working on – I’ve been going to the Glasgow print studio every Wednesday. And I’ve been mixing oil based inks and I’ve been doing gradiations and in this exhibition I’ve got three pieces where there’s a blue into white and back into blue gradiation and then I have drawn on top of these with pen, which is not something that I’ve done before so it’s nice to have been able to experiment and I found that gave me more of a free flow feel to my work which was quite nice and it felt more spontaneous and I felt a really good connection with what I was doing and I got totally lost and absorbed in what I was doing as well. So then I used colour pencils on top of the pen and they’re water based colour pencils which I would have never of tried on top of ink before and I really enjoyed that experience.

-LD: Has there been certain imagery or themes that were developed thanks to the collaboration? 

-CC: Yes because it’s all about head space this exhibition and about losing your head or losing time and focus and how to address those issues when you’re dealing with any kind of mental health issues and problems.

I have a sculptural piece that I’ve been working on with broken mirrors and it came from a sense of loss and a feeling of brokenness and I put that onto a dummy and it’s all grouted and it’s a complete sculpture in itself but then I embellished it with a necklace because I work with jewellery and my degrees are jewellery and drawing and painting and so that brings the jewellery aspect so that I like to keep it in my practise and keep that alive and so I got deflated balloons in there because I feel that it’s not something- we don’t celebrate mental health and nobody does but it is good to see positive aspects coming from difficult situations.

-LD: How does it feel to have your first exhibition post-lockdown? Do you think changes are coming to the way we exhibit and the way in which people experience and access art? 

-CC: I feel very excited and invigorated and very happy to be working with Sharon Thomas who is such an accomplished artist and technically really skilled. So it’s bit nerve racking working with her because she sets the bar high but it also pushes me to do my best work.

There are so many on-line exhibitions, isn’t there? You know and maybe this is a route we go down as well in order to keep up with the times. But hopefully we don’t have to go down that route and we can be a walk-in art gallery space that’s not affected by lock down, well it’s not not affected by lock down because we were, but hopefully the businesses will be staying open and we will be able to function.

-LD: Anything else you would like people to know about the exhibition and your experiences as an artist? 

-CC: We would encourage more people who are artist who have had any mental health issues to try exploring those avenues because it is quite a cathartic process once you get started. It’s not so good getting started but once you start the ideas flow and then you get a sense of yourself back again which is quite nice way to work through everything.