press release

This autumn Clare Woods is exhibiting new work at Roche Court. The show will consist of ‘The Prospect’, a monumental painting, 8 ft 6 in high and 24 ft long (259 x 731.5 cm), which will span almost the full length of the glass-fronted Gallery. She will also install a group of smaller works in the nineteenth century Orangery, which connects with the contemporary exhibition space.

The paintings celebrate contested space, they describe places that are simultaneously intimate and desolate, locations devoid of any particular focus and yet possibly significant. They depict places that are often hidden or overlooked. It is here that wider interests and concerns could be seen to overlap; popular and folk traditions, the pagan and the orthodox and our understanding of the urban and rural.

The work “adheres unmistakably to the long British tradition of pastoral landscape painting, somehow managing to conjure two contradictory moments of the English countryside - a mythical, verdant, Gothic, romantic past and the mutant overgrowth of post-industrial abandon”.

Gilda Williams, Review of ‘Deaf Man’s House’ exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery, in ArtForum, December 2006

The paintings are predominantly abstract and yet within the endless possible readings of these forms they remain grounded in something real, they are uncanny - familiar and yet somehow sinister.

The language Woods employs in the work hovers between representation and abstraction, between precision and accident, and image versus the physical nature of the paintings as sculpture. The viewer cannot read the surface in one take, instead they are forced to move in order to see the work fully and, as if looking at a polished bronze, they are drawn into a surface that reflects them and others around them.

All of the works are based on a series of collaged photographs that have been taken in the British landscape. Woods finds this arena emotive and inspirational and uses paint in formally inventive and arresting ways to take the viewer through places that are loaded, seductive and haunting. She continues a long tradition that explores our condition as people who are now largely urbanised and yet increasingly fascinated and affected by representations of landscape.

This exhibition sets her work in the context of sculpture and the plants and trees of the park at Roche Court, surrounded by the rural Wiltshire landscape which is so redolent of mystery and ancient pagan civilisations.

Clare Woods (b.1972) lives and works in London and Herefordshire. She studied at Bath College of Art (1991-94) and Goldsmith’s College (1997-99). She has exhibited in the UK, Europe and America, and solo shows include ‘New Paintings’ at Southampton City Art Gallery (1997), Modern Art, London (2000, 2004 & 2008), and ‘Deaf Man’s House’ at Chisenhale Gallery, London (2006). She was shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures prize in 2001. She has work in major public and private collections around the world including Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo; the British Council, London; Honart Museum, Teheran; Arken Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen; and has just completed a painting for the Arts Council Collection. Clare Woods is represented by Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.

Clare Woods