Clare Smith

What Next?


UNANTICIPATED WORLD. What I’ve been up to…

From March 2020, as someone in the very vulnerable category I was in total lockdown until my cancer treatment was resumed in May 2020 and even then only really allowed out for hospital visits and subject to extended shielding. So as well as carrying on with work for DAD on the What Next project, in a more limited way than before, I have really been focusing on my studio practice, a lot of which has had to be made on a small table at home and with limited access to materials. I have had to respond to the physical limitations of working in a domestic setting and on a small scale. Sometimes materials ask to be used so I mostly turned to materials that seemed to be lying in wait and somehow not getting out much has meant a turn to responding to where I am, at home and lucky to have a garden.

I have been ridiculously busy – making work is motivational and only possible to this extent thanks to Joanna stepping into the breach for DAD and the support of my husband Roger.

  • Isolation Garden: Small observational watercolours. I ventured into the garden in the spring to enjoy the warmth of the sun and to make work that was simply about being in a place and what I could see.
  • Unanticipated World: I used the time to experiment with processes like using a gelli plate for monoprinting. The title for the series is drawn from a media article which brings in the specificity of the circumstances we are all having to deal with.
  • The collages make use of old torn up pieces of work and magazine cuttings –I always have some materials at home for the days when I can work but am not quite well enough to go out. Collages are ways of bringing disparate elements together, a reflection of a collaged, mixed up world.
  • Shields: lino prints. Once I felt tentatively able to get back into the studio, which is large and allows for social distancing, I decided to make some monoprints based on ancient Chinese shield shapes. A very direct response to the lockdown experience.I am showing some of this lockdown work this month on Instagram at the Open Dresser Gallery and one of the pieces in the Unanticipated World series is being included in the open call Out of Isolation show at UCA Canterbury from 14 September. Unfortunately not open to the public.

#5 In the garden Easter sunday


Unanticipated World #7




Contribution to the idoc Walking through the Pandemic: On my first excursion to the hospital on resumption of the forced Covid-19 induced break I took some footage of my first walk which was in the woods right next to the hospital staff car park and submitted a clip to Andrew Martyn Sugar’s idoc. Watch here

I also finished 2 videos co-edited by Jenni Corner with music by Dave Robinson
Garden shadows: (enter password to view: GS202006**)
Between the trees: (enter password to view: BTT202008)

And, finally I’ve done some work on a commission for some books by Nicolette Picheral.


Chemo day drawings series 2: This is an ongoing series done in the chemo chair at the Celia Blakey Unit at the William Harvey in Ashford.

An extract from a text by Simon Bill on the Chemo day drawings series:

“As with any works of art there are some rules surrounding their production, and these rules are generated in two directions; from without – The necessity to remain fairly static for a fixed amount of time – and from within – The artist’s choices and aptitudes. The choice to make drawings suits the physical conditions, the limitations of movement and working space; drawing is also, as it happens, amongst Smith’s preferred ways of making art […] The printed grid offers a set of constraints, either to comply with or to violate. The grid is a trellis – the drawing grows through it, and around it.”

#005 series 2 chemo day drawing 8 July 2020 #1


Two personal exhibitions of my work planned for May had to be postponed, one of my watercolour collages at Brew Folkestone (Hug those you love) and a major show of my chemo day drawings at Sheffield Northern General Hospital. The exhibition at Brew ends on 23 September 2020: “Very beautiful works on show – delicate watercolour and ink drawings on Chinese gridded paper.” (Thurle Wright) and the Sheffield show will run from 2 November to the end of January 2021. I am working out how to get 18 framed drawings up there! It’s a great opportunity although having to get fire-safe frames was a bit unexpected.

It seems mad but I also started a Zoom drawing club which has about 12 regular participants. It has been a great way to connect with other artists interested in drawing and the peer-to-peer sessions are a wonderful mix of relaxed conversation and concentrated drawing. They do me good – I draw energy from them – and everyone seems to enjoy them as much as I do. In the latest sessions I’ve been drawing from Kurosawa’s Rashomon(1950), a brilliant film that I first saw as a student at Cambridge many, many years ago. I love the cinematography and the influence, it seems to me, of Kabuki and Noh theatre and the drama of black and white and the woodland setting.

The medium from Rashamon