Euroart Studios and its founder Lorraine Clarke
Euroart Studios is a traditional London artists’ community, with 70 individual studios housed in a converted factory in an industrial region near Seven Sisters, Tottenham. The area in general, outlying but still relatively close to the city centre, has now become the focus of several artists’ studio complexes, making it a vibrant hub of independent creative businesses.
In the run-up to our annual “Open Studios” – running from Friday 2nd June to Sunday 4th June – I would like to introduce the studio practice of some of the artists in our community. During our open weekend you will get the chance to see them in person in their studios, enjoy the creative ambience, and maybe purchase some affordable art.
Lorraine Clarke has been a practicing artist since the 1980s, and her focus is on the body and mind – “the human condition” – informed by her research into contemporary medical science as well as anthropology and links between magic, medicine and religion.
Lorraine’s cavernous studio is like an old-style museum of anthropological curiosities – the first thing that comes to mind is the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. It is filled with fascinating installation pieces – cabinets containing taxonomic collections of small crafted objects made out of found objects, a case of votive terracotta sculptures, re-purposed antique furniture with magical attachments, walls lined with arrays of jars, each containing some sacred hand-made specimen.There is a sense of timelessness and eternity about the collections.
A visitor exploring this seductive, sentient universe could get lost in reflection, inspired by the objects to explore the recesses of their own being. It is perhaps significant that in her earlier postgraduate studies, Lorraine read Art and Psychopathology at Hertfordshire college of Art. This led onto a vast installation at the University of Hertfordshire galleries in 2006, from which many of the objects she made over a three-year period still inhabit the studio.
Lorraine showed me her “Curiosity Shop” that she has been preparing for the Open Studios weekend. This collection represents a summary or distillation of her oeuvre, and many of the objects will be on sale during the event.
There are antique jewellery cases, instrument boxes, frames and jars containing objects of contemplation: A box with a microscopic image of a flea on its lid contains a root formation resembling an insect, and a similar root forms a distorted body with a delicate porcelain head in a small box-frame. The sacrum of a bird is displayed in an elegant Art Nouveau frame, a precious jewellery set is made of bleached crab-claws, sculptures resembling internal organs nestle like treasures in lockable boxes, and terracotta canopic jars made by Lorraine sit in the tall glass cabinet, whispering secret conversations among themselves.
More recently, Lorraine has been utilizing microelectronics to enhance the emotive experience of the objects and encourage handling. She showed me a heart that vibrates with the sound of a real beating heart as you lift it towards you.
You can see some of the objects in the gallery below, including a beautifully illustrated book of “Fertility Dolls” which you can also view and purchase online at Lorraine’s Woneder Shop.
Lorraine is also a published poet. Her poetry has been included in the anthologies of Loose Muse, an organization that promotes and develops women writers. Captivating images of her art also adorn the covers of the anthologies.
Reliquary of a Broken Heart (in 50 fragments) by Lorraine Clarke
How can it beat when your heart is flecked
With shards fleshed out with excess mess,
Layered with glacial spikes that melt
Just a little, sometimes-
Then turn to gelid slivers
Of splinters broken bone?
(Excerpt from “Spectre of Abandonment” by Lorraine Clarke, featuring Lorraine’s art and three poets.)