Six questions for
Clare Lyons

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Clare Lyons.

Artist Clare Lyons
Lives in Dublin/Belfast, Ireland

How do you describe your own art practice?

My practice has typically been quite autobiographical in a sense so far, using photography as a tool for healing and catharsis in the context of mental health struggles and trauma. I am very interested in the photograph as an object, and oftentimes the traditional, ‘straight’ photographic print doesn’t feel like enough to even begin to communicate the kinds of themes and issues which arise in my work. For this reason, I tend to apply some kind of additional process to the image, sometimes with a sculptural approach or through experimental print-making. This tactile application aids in the healing and catharsis and also moves my practice into a more multi disciplinary realm.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

Can art and photography aid in healing and catharsis? While my cathartic use of the medium came about almost accidentally, out of sheer necessity, at a time when I was very mentally unwell – I ran with that and have consistently used my practice to navigate the things that happen to me, or the troubles I must go through in my life. Whether this be mental health struggles, processing of childhood trauma, struggling with identity, or dealing with a break up – photography has always been a means for me to heal.

What was your first experience with art?

I spent a lot of my younger years attending counselling and therapy. At these sessions I was encouraged to draw, paint, and craft with my hands. These are the first times I can really remember creating art that felt like it was for me. At this young age, in school, the art classes always felt like they were geared towards a particular event or occasion – like making something for Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. This felt like the first time I was making something that was only for myself. Looking back now, it feels like there is a very distinct link between the creation and making of artwork and talking about and processing my struggles and trauma. It’s kind of crazy to me to see how ingrained this kind of approach has become, even though it really does make a lot of sense.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I am a Sophie Calle fan girl! I love how unafraid Calle is to share her most deep and private thoughts. Her work really gave me the courage to begin telling my own deeply personal stories. I felt like it was apparent that she was getting some sense of healing or closure from some of the work she was making (like in ‘Take Care of Yourself’ or ‘Exquisite pain’). While our work isn’t necessarily visually similar, her brave and almost diaristic approach to the medium has been a massive inspiration to me over the years.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Honestly one of the most important tools for me in my practice is my printer! I have used the same, terribly cheap and terribly old HP deskjet printer for over a decade now. My printer means I can instantly turn my digital images into objects that I can get to work on. My printer has massively helped in the development of a practice where photo as object is such an integral thing.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I have recently come across some work by the artist Lujan Candria which explores the fluid nature of photography and how it relates to memory and the landscape. Candria takes an almost sculptural approach to images printed on draped and layered fabric to capture how time is irreplicable and moments passed may be moments lost forever.

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