'Desperate Measures', Leigh Clarke

Painting with a text title Save the Kidz and six runners in assorted fancy dress

Acrylic and screenprint on canvas, 214 x 275cm, 2006

Artist's statement

Absurdity as a tool of protest and fund-raising has become a common oddity of everyday life. Fathers dressed as superheroes climb bridges because they want more access to their children. University lecturers disguise themselves as apes at demonstrations because they are overworked and underpaid. A Member of Parliament enters the ‘Big Brother’ house to politicise the show and then pretends he is a cat.

The painting shows the extreme lengths to which people will go to communicate their plight through the half-tones and pixels of the media. The costumed runners were photographed at the 21-mile marker of the 2005 London Marathon. The weather was unexpectedly hot and they had a further five miles to run. Each participant was raising money for charity.


Leigh Clarke was born in Carshalton in 1973. He studied at Croydon School of Art and Design 1991-93, University of Brighton 1993-96 and the Royal College of Art London 1996-98. He is a Senior Lecturer at the London College of Communication and a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Academy Schools London. His exhibitions include Self Storage Keith Talent Gallery Royal Academy of Arts London 2004 and a solo exhibition Feedback Vertigo Gallery London 2003. Other projects include numerous performances including collaborations with Bob and Roberta Smith. His curated projects include Stage Fright, a spoken word and music album 2005.