'Madame Bridgette', Clare Woods

Painting of a forest scene

Gloss and oil on aluminium, 178 x 132cm, 2005

Artist's statement

The visual language of my paintings shifts between representation and abstraction. My work is derived from photographs, shot at night, of supernaturally charged rural places. These locations, devoid of any particular focus, are places of possible significance. They are symbolic landscapes, humanised through the emotions embedded within them and alluding to pagan and folk traditions. They give a dark hue to any romantic visions of nature.

These abstract paintings are often intimate, desolate and indeterminable, depicting complex and ambiguous spaces whilst foregrounding formal qualities that employ both control and chance. They offer many possible readings of the forms they contain, operating like a series of Rorschach inkblots, open to interpretation.

'Madame Bridgette' is a landscape of dead and dying plant-life transformed by the camera into specimens of loathsome zoology. The painting sits on the borderline between fantasy, with its endless possibilities, and reality, grounded in the original photographic image. This point of metamorphosis allows the painting a duality that is both unnerving and macabre.

Although the motif is largely dictated by the photograph, the actual act of painting is improvised and led by the dynamics of the paint. At this stage, the tension between gesture and control determines the final outcome.


Clare Woods lives and works in London. She studied at Bath College of Art 1991-94 and Goldsmiths College London 1997-99. She has shown in group exhibitions including Beck’s Futures ICA London (touring) 2001-02, New British Painting, Part 1 John Hansard Gallery Southampton 2003-04 and Extreme Abstraction Albright-Knox Gallery Buffalo New York 2005. Her solo shows include New Paintings Southampton City Art Gallery 1997, two at Modern Art London 2000 and 2004 and Deaf Man’s House at Chisenhale Gallery London 2006.