In anticipation of the opening of “Personal Relations” in Vicenza on Saturday 29th of April, we are pleased to publish the interview to artist Clive Burton, member of The London Group.
Would you tell us something about your artwork and how you responded to the brief?
The very interesting and inspiring brief was, layered and directional which inspired my response to be similarly layered and conceptual with a personal twist.
The idea of an object holding the spirit of a personal gift was both intriguing and mystical, calling for an object that transcends itself. It is often the magical qualities within an ‘objet trouve’ and the visible signs of its mystical history that can help carry that transcendence.
A small mobile phone sized, iconic – like, old brass framed mirror found in a flea market in southern Spain fitted the bill. The small mirror itself being partly corroded, scratched and blurred with some of its silver missing reflected an image that appeared aged and evoked a curiosity towards its identity and interpretation.
By photographing my own image in that very mirror then superimposing the print upon the mirror itself the visual paradox was cast. A reflected image set in time recording its use yet denying the future function of the mirror itself. Colliding and combining the present time and history into one visually oxymoronic image. The result becoming a sibylline and enigmatic object that transcends the sum of its parts offering many layers of interpretation. It is at this point that he the object hopefully leaves the artist and embarks upon its own life and journey in time.
What did you gain from this international collaborative project?
One of the major gains from the international project was the specific set up to illustrate the nature of a European culture. To show both the common and the individual aspects of the artist’s work across the initial three countries involved. The first showing in London mixed all the works up in one continuous line around the gallery. The second in The Hague Holland the work were in three distinct separate blocks according to the artist group and country. Each group hosting the exhibition had the liberty and the choice to display the works differently so the imminent third show in Italy will by definition be different again. This illustrates so well the common collective and the creative diversity of the artists and their groups.
What do you feel the role of the artist can be in relation to current political affairs?
I feel that the artist per say has a no specific or obligated role in politics unless through choice. Art can be divisive, inclusive, challenging, confrontational, and arguably at its best provocative. However everyone’s creativity, opinion and comment are the fundamental building blocks to their culture which in turn creates and shapes the society and politics in their lives. It is the diversity that gives valve to the culture.
Miniature portraits were often given to as political gifts to kings or ambassadors …what message would you embed in such a gift?
My message is embedded in its title ’Self Reflecting Icon’ … relook into and question yourself … reflect upon your thoughts and actions.
What do you think your collective brought to the other groups and what do you think they brought to your collective?
The Concise and precise answer is simply successful collectively, interaction and cross fertilisation of concepts and practice.
One of the aims was to create an opportunity for the artist to work on a unique and inspiring conceptual brief and become part of a collective work , was that successful for you?
The ‘collective work’ was a very interesting and successful curatorial concept which was extremely well orchestrated and executed at the same time allowing all the works their individuality. In fact the whole experience was what it set out to be, a very successful ‘unique and inspiring concept…’
Clive Burton, "Self, Reflecting Icon"