Ruth Barker

After The Field



Commentary on the Work of Claire Barclay in the exhibition 'After The Field' for Washington Garcia. Text Commissioned by Washington Garcia.


Artist Claire Barclay’s new installation ‘After the Field’ has been created specifically for The Old Barn at Dumbreck Riding School. The work was developed in response to her invitation to exhibit here, and was finished in the Barn in response to both the architecture and the function of the building.

Claire has used a large wooden structure, similar to the Old Barn’s existing woodwork, to divide the space and provide a series of more intimate encounters with her sculptural objects. These objects echo the surrounding context of the Riding School through the material choices that the artist has made; working with shapes and textures that at first seem familiar, but which quickly give rise to other, more complex associations.

The leather cow-hide sculpture for example, seems to suggest both the bulk of an animal’s body and the constriction of its harness. We are drawn to its skin-like qualities, but also disconcerted by them.
The circular ‘ring’ like structures are deceptively simple, but their matt black surface confuses any direct interpretation of their function or origin.

The question of ‘craft’ is an issue often raised by Claire’s work. Her sculptures are fastidiously made, and she often employs skilled craftspeople to provide expert finishing. Her recent work, as seen here in the Old Barn, might be seen to reference the ethos of ‘Shaker’ construction. The Shakers are a Protestant religious group in America that advocate a simple and unadorned lifestyle. They are famous for designing and making their own furniture, all of which conforms to their religious ideals – rejecting all ornament or decoration in favour of a purely functional aesthetic. Some Shakers believe that to make something well is ‘an act of prayer’.

Claire Barclay Biography

Claire Barclay was born in Paisley and lives and works in Glasgow. She is represented by Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, and Steven Friedman in London.
Claire exhibits internationally, represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2003, and produced the major installation ‘Ill Gotten Gains’ for the British Art Show 6 in 2006. She is based at Glasgow Sculpture Studios.