Clair research interests have stemmed from investigations into the roles that institutions occupy in individual and collective consciousness. Themes such as ‘hybridity’ ‘gendered experience’, ‘memory’, and ‘belief systems’ have been explored through the careful construction and juxtaposition of objects and images within defined spaces.
Current research interests focus on the interrelationship of human and animal subjects making use of devices of mimicry/imitation to explore and critique strategies of historic European colonialism (from the Early Modern period onwards). A metaphorical approach is applied, through which knowledge gained through the study of animal adaptations and behaviors is juxtaposed with knowledge of historical events from human colonial history. This practice reveals connections and equivalences in human and non-human behavior, crossing species divisions. However, through this activity, resources and methodologies of scholarship from across disciplinary divides are also mimicked therefore providing a conceptually unusual cross-disciplinary approach.
A key example is to be found in the extended project Cuculus Prospectus (2011 onwards), which includes sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and video works. Cuculus Prospectus has been exhibited in full and as selected works in galleries and other sites across the UK and internationally. In this body of work expanded explorations of hybridity—using the evolutionary adaptations of the Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus Canorus—have been developed using anthropomorphic devices to draw metaphorical analogies with the environmental legacies of European colonialism—as described by Alfred Crosby in Ecological Imperialism (1986). The project takes as its premise an imagined scenario in which Cuculus canorus plans an extension of its territory into the New World of North America. In 2013 and 2014 this project was developed ‘in the field’ through The Human Nest-box and Remote Performances involving site based installations, interventions and performances in the Scottish Highlands during residencies at Outlandia artists tree-house and field station (run by London Fieldworks). In 2015 the ‘field’ was re-constituted within a group exhibition Remote Centres, curated by London Fieldworks and hosted by Art/Space/Nature at Edinburgh’s Tent Gallery during the Edinburgh Art Festival.
Research group membership
Co-Founder and member of FAR (Fine Art Research) Group.
Clair’s exhibiting experience includes one person shows: Unnatural Causes (O3 Gallery, Oxford), Unruly Objects (Cornerstone Arts, Oxon), Cuculus Prospectus, (Beldam Gallery, Brunel University, London and Waterfront Gallery, UCS, Ipswich); Locations, (OVADA, Oxford); "...from the institution" (City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent) and Taking Stock (Keele University Gallery, Staffordshire). Selected group exhibitions have included, Reproducing Death, (at the 115th American Anthropological Association meeting) Minneapolis Convention Center, MN, USA, Remote Centres, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh, The Fools Journey and Naming the Animals (both at Curious Matter [NJ] & Proteus Gowanus [Brooklyn NY] USA); Animals, People: A Shared Environment, (POP Gallery and QCA Gallery, Brisbane, AUS), mere jelly, (Transmission Gallery, Glasgow), New Hybrids, (part of the Cultural Olympiad, Oxford) and New Art New Century (Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent). Publications include ‘There’s a Monster in the Nest-box’ (chapter) in ‘Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture’, Gilchrist B., Joelson J., Warr T. ed., Ashgate, 2015. Artist’s books include How to Speak...: The Breeding Birds of the United Kingdom and Briefe and True: Lost Landscapes.