CoCA Acquisition – Claire Curneen

Claire Curneen is one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists producing work of a figurative nature. Born in Ireland, Claire studied at Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork before completing a post-graduate diploma at the University of Ulster, Belfast.

Following an MA in ceramics at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), Claire recently took up a lecturing post at UWIC. Her work has been exhibited throughout the world and is featured in UK and international private and public collections.

Claire says; “My work with the figure is grounded in the exploration of the human condition, focusing on aspects of the religious and the ceremonial. With semi-autobiographical references, the figure serves as a vessel for the physical and spiritual being.”

Claire has offered to the CoCA collection a new piece of work titled ‘Portent’, which she made in 2015 for her exhibition ‘To This I Put My Name’ at the Mission Gallery, Cardiff. The exhibition marked the culmination of her Arts Council of Wales Ambassador Award project from which she produced a body of work in response to the collections of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

The works comprised of a mixture of freestanding figures and wall mounted tableaus made of porcelain and black clay along with details of delicately painted glaze and sparkling gold lustre. The exhibition was laid out in such a way that ‘Portent’ was the key work and so attracted the most critical praise.

‘Portent’ is made of black clay and takes the form of a reclining figure which has a curious tension and could be viewed as floating, rising or falling. The figure sprouts pruned nodules with ends of blue and white decorated porcelain.

These organic growths suggest the opposing themes of the pain of loss and renewal and hope. Her skills of modelling the human figure are apparent in the figure, particularly in the hands, which have an almost alien and otherworldly elegance. The piece has a stillness about it but the potential for life and movement.

CoCA has another piece by Claire in the collection titled ‘Irene tending Saint Sebastian’s wounds’, which was made in 2006 and acquired in 2007. This latest acquisition shows how her skills and interests have developed over the years, and builds on CoCA’s desire to strengthen our holdings of figurative ceramic work.