PROFILE: Rachael Clewlow | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Longitudinal Geometry, 129.53 Miles Walked, Newcastle (Map) (detail),

2016, acrylic and silverpoint on board, 90x122cm

First and foremost, Rachael Clewlow is an explorer. The Middlesbrough-born Newcastle-based artist’s work is a colourful exercise in painstaking exploration and discovery, drawn from meticulous notes made whilst walking. Her most recent work, 3,200 Colours, is on display at Newcastle’s Vane Gallery from Thursday 26th April until Saturday 19th May, and depicts Rachael’s documentation of the world in colourful, often geometric paintings and prints.

Her last body of work concerned itself with pre-defined walks, as in the diptych Longitudinal Geometry, 129.53 Miles Walked, Newcastle. “I planned seven days walking along the longitudinal grid lines of my OS map, walking around 25 miles each day from North to South.” She explains. “I see the walks as challenges and although there are moments of beauty, I’m often walking through areas I don’t know, bleak industrial landscapes and seemingly rough areas, which can be a little intimidating. I like the juxtaposition between the often hard and bleak walk I’m narrating and the colourful, playful, simple geometric forms I’m using to depict them.”

Rachael builds her work thanks to scrupulous note taking, from the sublime to the ridiculous. “My favourite recent note is ’16:42 – WOMAN WITH SYTHE’. It can be absolutely anything, I like to have a mix of architectural monuments or landmarks, ‘lived’ human moments and the more prosaic stuff of life.”

The title of her exhibition refers to the number of individual colours mixed for the work. “The pieces are colour coded, as maps and diagrams often are to allow the viewer to form links between the works, however with so many colours these links are often tricky to decipher. This huge volume of individual colours reflects the depth of information present within this group of works, but perhaps it is also a nod to the absurdity of the task I’ve given myself!”

Rachael’s work is endearingly hypnotic, filled with elaborate detail. “Although the work isn’t always instantly understandable, I like to think that people can make their own narrative.” She says. “It’s not important that the works are read in the way that you might read a map though – I hope that viewers appreciate the paintings on a more fundamental level, as objects that are also about colour, form and beauty.”

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