Fabia Claris

Fish Lamb whole and human/Fish Lamb not quite right
re-used plastic milk bottles on foam base/re-used plastic milk bottles and other assorted plastic on foam base

each 69cm h x 43 cm w x 56cm d

The Final Cut
re-used broken umbrellas and other assorted metal, wire, plastic and fabric, with wooden stool

190cm h x 100cm w x 140cm d

Strutting peacock
re-used broken umbrellas and other assorted metal and plastic

160cm h x 160cm w x 110cm d

Tom asleep

83cm h x 58cm w

I am primarily a sculptor, but drawing has always been an important part of my practice. Whether I work in three or two dimensions, my approach is similar, and involves a mixture of construction and deconstruction, putting together and taking away. In drawing this translates into a process of repeatedly building up a surface and then carving into it with a rubber.

My sculpture is essentially figurative, although there is an underlying conceptual dimension to my work. The focus of my work is always people. I have been working over the last few years on a series of birds illustrative of some the more absurd aspects of human beings as well as on some more serious pieces using the figure to express extremes of human experience.

Whether it is light-hearted like the series of birds or more serious like The Final Cut and the Fish Lamb series, structure is always central to my work. My aim is to convey meaning through the way each piece is constructed. This is particularly important in the Fish Lamb series. This is an ongoing series exploring ideas of identity and disintegration through a portrait head. The first in the series, Fish Lamb whole and human, is a whole head, constructed cohesively from the inside out. Based on a cast from this but undermined and worked on, the second, Fish Lamb not quite right, lacks the essential structural unity of a whole and is designed to convey disintegration.

Given my interest in structure rather than surface appearance as a fundamental means of conveying meaning, the materials I use to build up my pieces are very important. As a female sculptor working in the twenty-first century I feel a strong need to create a language which reflects the world I live in using materials which do not come with the baggage of predominantly male sculptural tradition. I deliberately use materials which are of my time and environment and low-tech methods to assemble them. My aim is to take up the discarded material fabric of our world and transform it into a sculptural medium.

The raw materials I use are of little value and are not specifically designed to last, but rather to serve a given purpose and then be thrown away. I take these and transform them, breaking each element down into its component parts and re-assembling it to create a material and language of my own. I piece my materials together, layer them, glue them, cut into them using simple and direct methods which draw on female textile traditions of weaving and tying. Many of my recent pieces have incorporated discarded, broken umbrellas as a key element as well as other found materials, and the portrait heads use recycled plastic milk bottles.

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Central School of Art and Design,1980-81: foundation
Wimbledon School of Art, 1981-3: sculpture
Dick Reid, York, 1983-4: carving apprenticeship
Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, 1991: anatomy
Prince’s Drawing School, London: 2004-06: two-year postgraduate drawing course
Kensington and Chelsea College, London: 2007-08: professional development diploma in sculpture (distinction)

Arts administration / Project management

Tate Gallery, 1977: temporary museum assistant working on Stubbs’ Haymakers and Reapers appeal
Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery, 1985-6: cataloguing and illustrating collection of Chinese textiles, leading to exhibition catalogue and colouring sheets for children
Arlington Mill Museum and Art Gallery, 1988-9: assistant to the director, responsible for putting on a season of monthly exhibitions of contemporary art and for producing explanatory material about mill machinery
London Youth Arts Network, May – August 2001: visual arts co-ordinator for `Take Part at the Start’, a one-day event held at the Royal Festival Hall, responsible for researching, planning and implementing the visual arts part of a multi-arts programme, with a brief to be inclusive, covering the visual arts in the broadest possible sense at all levels and across all boroughs, tracking down particularly as much as possible in the `hard to reach’ boroughs where the arts have a low profile. The programme brought together an exhibition of banners, paintings, drawings, textiles, photographs over 3 floors, and included appearances by stiltwalkers and displays of festival costumes, as well as workshops ranging from paper fashion to carnival masks, showings of videos, and seminars on careers in the visual arts
Jelly Leg’d Chicken Arts Centre, Reading, May 2002 – March 2003: education co-ordinator, with a brief to develop audiences and widen participation, responsible for researching, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating a wide-ranging educational programme of activities inside and outside the gallery, working with young people and adults, schools, community groups, other organisations and agencies, some teaching
London Youth Arts Network, June – September 2002: research for and compilation of directory of youth arts organisations in London
Paddington Arts, February-July 2003: research for Youth Arts Online, nationwide directory of youth arts training providers
Roundhouse, London, May-July 2004: photography and exhibition co-ordinator for Journeys exhibition
Arts Express, London, May-July 2008: research and project management for Life in Peckham exhibition

Art teaching
Life Drawing Summer Intensive, Oxford, July 1998 and 1999: joint organiser and tutor, anatomy and life drawing, all ages
School of Architecture and Landscape Design, University of Greenwich, October-December 1999: life drawing,1st year students
North and West Oxford Community Education Committee, January-June 2000: life drawing, adults and year 11 and 12 students
Maiden Erlegh School, Reading, October-November 2002: life drawing, year 12 and 13 students
Community Focus, Barnet, April 2007 to date: life and portrait drawing, adults; sculpture
Art Academy, London, March 2008 to date: sculpture and drawing at diploma and other levels
Norden Farm Arts Centre, Maidenhead July 2008 to date: life drawing, adults


Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, 1992: to Italy and France to study anatomy in relation to sculpture


‘After Michelangelo’, Centre for Recent Drawing, London, June-July 2006
‘Inspirations from Old Masters’, Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable, October 2006
The Prince’s Drawing School, London, October-November 2005
The Prince’s Drawing School, London, October-November 2006
New English Art Club, Mall Galleries, London, December 2006
Black and White exhibition, Claire Galleries, Birmingham, March-April 2007
‘Figure it Out’, Stroud House Gallery, Stroud, Gloucestershire, November 2007-January 2008
Chichester Open, November 2007
‘PURE_drawing and Illustration’, Ferreira Projects, London, January-February 2008
Black Swan Arts Open, Frome, January-February 2008
Sculpture show, Hortensia Gallery, Kensington and Chelsea College, London, January-February 2008
Sculpture show, Hortensia Gallery, Kensington and Chelsea College, London, May-June 2008
Carried Away II, St Pancras Church Crypt, London, June 2008
Delusions of Grandeur, Oblong Gallery, London: June 2009
India, Atelier East, Wisbech: January-February 2010
East Wing Nine, Courtauld Institute of Art, London: January 2010-July 2011
Flock Together, Brixton Village Gallery, London: March 2010
Cross My Art, Art & Escape, 210 Pentonville Road, London: September-October 2010
Sustainability, Hammersons, 10 Grosvenor Street, London: November-December 2010
Off Beige, Brighton, November 2011
ASC Open Studios 2009, 2010 and 2011