Thursday, 6 August 2009

Maker of the Week - Paola McClure

Paola McClure designs and makes beautiful, large scale soft sculpture from Dundee. Although Paola's work is brash, bright and humourous and the work can have a darker edge to it and distortions of proportions can lead to a sense of unease. This unease can be exaggerated, as with any figurative sculpture, by the very physical presence of the work. The eyes, however, do not follow you round the room...

One favourite living craft maker (and why?)

Kelly Buntin Johnson is a self taught artist from Missouri whose work I admire. She creates figures with strong religious themes that are ornate yet primitive and that have a kind of menacing humour about them. I particularly like her “Intercessors” and while I don’t share her faith I love the dark intensity of her work.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased? or What one product/item do you really covet? (and why)?
At a recent craft fair I bought a resin ’eye’ brooch by Islay Jane Spalding.

At age 15 who influenced your style? Was there any individual who very much helped you on your way?
My father was a painter so I was brought up surrounded by art. The impact of that must have been huge but the specifics are harder to unravel. My love of rich colour comes from my father’s work but also from the picture books of my childhood. My gran’s influence is a bit more obvious. She was a great crafter and handywoman who would give anything a go and was only disappointed that she had never built her own house or made a pair of shoes. While she may not have influenced my style she certainly inspired a love of improvising and quite conversely of hoarding materials “in case they come in handy one day” (which comes narrowly above the bottom of the barrel after “might be good for fancy dress” as an excuse for just one more charity shop purchase).

As far as style goes at 15 I was fairly predictable and liked illustrators such as Arthur Rackham and Aubrey Beardsley as well as cartoonists such as Charles Aadams and Andre Francois. I have however always had a bit of a love affair with kitsch and my bedroom wall was covered in postcards of paintings next to cut outs from marvel comics and cheesy advertising.

Last best read (book)?
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson.

Where and what is your studio? Do you work alone? In silence, radio?
My workspace is part of a group of studios that take up two floors of a converted jute mill in Dundee. Being a converted mill the windows are huge so there is tons of light. I work alone but it is good having other artists just along the corridor for chats and rants. I mainline on Radio 4.

What is your favourite (art) website (and why)?
It depends what for. For art information is very thorough. For inspiration I like outsider sites such as . I think coming from an art background I am fascinated by work that comes without that influence and occasionally wonder if I would be doing anything like this without it.

Surprising activity/hobby?
I am currently trying to learn how to yodel. This is a very private pleasure and can only be practised on long car journeys and well away from pedestrians. So far I haven’t progressed much beyond basic exercises such as blaring “aaah-eee!” from a low note to a high note to try to catch and control the break in the voice that is (pity help me) the essence of yodel. I don’t know what tickles me about yodelling but I already have a genuinely moving piece picked out as my funeral music. My only regret is that I won’t be there to see the reactions.

Do you have a good work/life balance? Are you able to switch off from art work?
I don’t think you ever switch off completely. There is always a bit of brain ticking away and looking out for ideas.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
People have felt the need to create since they had to kill lunch with their own bare hands so I’m going to plump for a yes – which doesn’t stop it feeling like an immense privilege and pleasure to make things all day long. There do you see how I straddled that fence so cleverly?

What do think are crimes against good taste & decency in art/craft/design?
You want me to talk about Jack Vettriano.

No comments: