An Honest Woman
2012 by Laura Clarke
Clarke was recently Artist in Residence at the Works on Paper fair and, if you were lucky enough if find her there or indeed just find her work, you would have been pulled into her weird and wonderful world. Etchings often bring an essence of naturalist documentation to artwork, lead by their infinite capacity for detail, forged by the delicate line. It is this line that caresses objects so closely, focusing our attention on each component of Clarke’s compositions. Leading our eye thus, the subjects of her work gather a collective and poignant resonance, humming almost in their concentration of detail. This concentration is then spiked, tipped over to a raw seduction, as we realise the provocative subjects of her scenes. In An Honest Woman the intimacy of a shrouded clearing is scattered with haunting symbols that pinch the viewer’s gaze – nudity spilling out of open legs. A woman hangs, deadly still, though it is at the mercy of her own hands that she swings – curiously, from a large severed forearm with curling fingers – her feet digging into the soft flesh of an incomplete body. Smaller bodies are kept in the shadows of the foliage, slanting eyes caught in the flow and rush of earth as it cascades down to the pit of the painting, while a rat-like creature surveys the situation, clutching its jaw, its eye bright with a gleam. This scene, that scratches away at our imagination with descriptive and fantastically leading lines, is then calmed, soothed, by the placidly flat distant mountains.