‘Angels in My Kitchen’ is running from Saturday, March 28th to Friday, April 10th
‘Angels in My Kitchen’ is the imagination-stirring title of Claire Casely’s current exhibition at the Glorious Gallery. Her art is filled with spirituality – a beautiful coming-to-life of her own world-views in a wave of bright colours.
Wanting to find out more about her thoughts, I asked Claire why she thought art was important. “Creative expression in any form is important because it allows us to access our inner wisdom,” Claire began, “and by doing so, we unlock the hearts and souls of others. My art allows me to visually express ideas and emotions which have immediacy with the viewer. It enables me to keep in touch with my four year-old self, who sees a world of magical possibilities. I have found creating art to be a very empowering and healing force in my life. For me, creating art is about opening the veil between the mundane and the extraordinary.”
As you can see when you stand in the middle of the gallery, Claire’s art combines personal reality with magical wonder. Beautiful, serene faces seem to nod at you as you walk by, and it’s hard not to smile back. As with all good things, this warming style of Claire’s is something she developed over time.
“I feel that it is only in the last two to three years that my art has become more authentic and more in touch with my creative roots. I found my art degree to be very uninspiring, and I felt lost creatively during it. It’s only in the years since leaving university that I’ve gradually found my style and inner confidence as an artist. I’ve learnt from many different teachers along the way.”
There’s a world-embracing diversity to Claire’s art, perhaps inspired by her journey to the other side of the globe after university. “I travelled and worked my way around Australia, and worked as an Art and Design teacher when I returned to the UK. I really started to believe in myself as an artist when I took an evening class in abstract art. I learnt so much about colour and form and many different artists and their techniques. I learnt more and gained more confidence doing this than I had over the three years of my degree. I began working on larger canvasses, and it helped me to push the boundaries of my creativity.”
Claire’s adventures have taken her to some pretty unique places – Harry Potter fans, this is for you! “I had a wonderful week of work experience on the set of the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Claire recalled. “It was pre-production, so none of the actors were there. I got to see all of the various artists and designers at work, and wander around the set. The forest set was amazing, with life-sized trees. I helped to make props, like putting together all of the packaging for the sweet shop in Diagon Alley. I was even tasked with creating an enormous concertina file for a wizard’s office. I helped to dress the set of Harry’s house, and it was great to watch the film and think ‘I placed that there, and I framed those family photos!’”.
‘Angels In My Kitchen’ exudes a vibrant positivity, giving a glimpse into Claire’s own life. “My inspiration comes from love, my children, my childhood, family, friends, teachers, imagery, books, music, places, experiences and objects,” Claire said. “I am a magpie and I tend to collect all sorts of bits and bob to use in my artwork. I have a big file of my childhood drawings, and I often refer to those and the ideas and drawings of my children. Children say the most awe-inspiring things sometimes that give you a different perspective on things we take for granted. The other day my son said ‘Mummy, I can feel the magic of the sun shining on me’ – it was pure joy. I also draw inspiration from my process, for example painting an abstract background of colour and pulling out imagery from the shapes and forms there. I read a lot of books. I love angels and have many angel books. I recently read ‘Angels In My Hair’ by Lorna Byrne, and the imagery in her writing has really inspired my images of angels. I read ‘The Artists’ Way’ by Julia Cameron and that was a big turning point for me, realising that my art was an essential part of my life and not just a nice thing to do when I had the time.”
As ever, I was curious to know if a particular piece of Claire’s work was closest to her own heart. “It’s difficult to choose a favourite,” Claire said, “because all my paintings have a story. One of my favourites is ‘Celebrate and Create’ because I love the woman’s peaceful and happy expression, colour and decorative details. I was on holiday in Zennor in Cornwall last summer when I came up with the beginnings of the painting. Zennor is a magical little village famed for its mermaid, and has inspired many artists and writers. I drew the woman’s face in my notebook one morning. I didn’t know who she was and that she’d become a painting until a few months later. I was inspired by the colours and pattern in African textiles. The title for this painting came to me as I was painting her, and I knew she was the angel of celebrating creativity!”