Claire McNamee is perhaps better known for the black and white portraits of poets, novelists, playwrights and screenwriters. Alongside this work Claire has developed her more personal colour photography, and it is this startlingly different but equally evocative and powerful work that is the focus of PING.
These photographs have a wonderful dream-like quality – sunlight flickering through shutters, swirls of neon street light, shadows on a café wall …time suspended…the goldfish mid-movement, childhood encapsulated in the chubby hand of a babe clinging on to a spade.
“My photography is about capturing moments,” says Claire. “Some of these are as fluid as a fleeting thought or intimate as private dialogues can be…my work is quirky owing more to mood than faithfully recording landscapes, although the imagery is inspired by and harvested from the natural surroundings.”
Water is a recurring theme in this exhibition – from the photographs of the canal alongside her Hebden Bridge home to the ‘coast scapes’ where vast expanses of sea are edged by sky or sand, dotted with a figure, object or seaweed-covered rock.
Sometimes she presents us with views which seem just outside our immediate frame of reference – a square patch of garden through the opening in a greenhouse, the sea through a door left ajar – glimpses of some secret world.
In others the viewer is submerged in the landscape. We can almost feel the hot Mediterranean sun in the lush orange grove, the coolness of the shade under the palm trees or the weight of the figure hanging over the railing.
Sometimes these landscapes take on an almost abstract-like feel with patches of colour like paint, the horizon a high curve or line cutting through the composition. Others are surreal, like the rainbow-coloured, oil-slicked canal or the sea populated by a single figure, barely discernible.
PING explores the definitive moment that Claire’s work tends to capture, the “innate sense of when to move, when to capture and when to die”. It is Claire’s exploration of how to harness that PING
These ‘captured moments’ have a resonance because they stir within us our own memories of places and events, our own private ‘PINGS’. They are her most powerful works to date
Alison Darnbrough – Curator (Gallery II, Bradford)