Hi Clare! We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to get inside your creative life!
Hi Polaroid of the Day, thank you so much. It’s a real pleasure to be invited to be a part of your magazine.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself? Three words that define you?
I’m a Welsh photographer and I live and work on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. It’s a beautiful, if not magical place, that to me is so highly cinematic and a place that has shaped my visual imagination. It’s very evocative with its mysterious seascapes, biblical skies and great spaces which I utilise for my work.
I would say I was a curious person and have always been interested in my environment and the people around me.
In fact my journey into photography stemmed from a fascination with the local characters of my home town and feeling a need to capture and record them on an old film camera. I’ve always been intrigued by outsider characters and people who live on the fringes; an interest that is still in me today.
Being a dreamer has also been a part of who I am. I have a vivid imagination that constantly ticks away and I spend a lot of time in my head, sometimes too much time, dreaming or working out little stories and scenarios.
There is this wonderful school report my mother had from when I was seven where the teacher mentions that my ability to daydream was alarming! Even then I was drifting off into my own imagined world.
I’m also quietly persistent, so even when things go wrong and aren’t working out how I would like them to, I will hang on in there and keep going.
Being Dyslexic has meant I’ve had to be quite persistent and patient in learning the technical aspects of photography, which means I’ve sort of learned some things backwards, as I favor hands-on, intuitive learning.
There are times I’ve had to reign my persistence in, as I can sometimes become almost consumed by a particular idea or project and I appreciate that some of those around me might not share the same enthusiasm!
When did you start using instant film? What is your first memory of it?
I began using instant film when Impossible Project, now Polaroid Originals, came into being. I read about them and was also enjoying the work of other artists using instant film both past and present. It was a time when my own digital experiments were not delivering a feel and mood I wanted. I’m aware it could well have been due to my lack of skills, but everything digital felt so cold to me and film gave me the warmth I was longing and aiming for. My journey with it began then. I love the aesthetic and perfect imperfections you can get from it and how each instant image is like a portal into another world and existence. My first memory of it goes back to a field and beach on Anglesey and being mesmerized with the whole process. I committed to it then and have been on a journey with it ever since.
Your instant photography work makes me feel like I’m in the 1960’s. What inspired you to make these Polaroids? Especially the ones by the seaside and inside the house?
Cinema has been a huge and enduring influence on all my work. I grew up in a part Italian family and spent hours with my grandmother who watched a lot of TV, films and world cinema. Some of these films and their imagery through the lens of a child were really captivating and my love of films and Cinema stems from there. I love world cinema and the films of directors like David Lynch, Antonioni, Kieslowski, Bergman, Polanski, Peter Weir, David Lean… all these incredible directors have influenced me.
Cinemas are for me great spaces where I can step inside, leave the day-to-day behind and transport myself into another world, one that will (hopefully) move me emotionally and inspire me and my work.
I’m very influenced by the aesthetic of the 1960’s, the women of that time, the counter culture which has all influenced my work along with B movies and Hammer films. One thing that drives all my work is a fascination with Doppelgangers and Doubles.
The idea that we can all have a double existing anywhere in the world and what would happen if we caught a glimpse of that double.
The one film that defined that influence was Kieslowski’s the ‘Double Life of Veronique’ and for me creating images of myself as these characters with a 1960’s influence allows me to create a parallel life and existence.
Being part Italian I attended the Catholic church as a child with my mother and grandmother. The theater and rituals of the church made an impression and I developed an interest in magic and magical beliefs which also influence the work.
The ones by the sea, beaches and dunes are my alternative worlds which are always influenced by a certain film such as ‘Zabriskie Point’, ‘Don’t look Now’, ‘Holy Mountain’ or at times a piece of music and have a kind of psychedelic influence with them.
My comfort zone has always been to shoot outside in bright natural light and now I’m experimenting indoors too. Some of my recent indoors work was influenced by a sort of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ vibe.
What is your opinion about the new wave of reviving Polaroid around the globe? Do you think we will see more people bringing back to life their old Polaroid cameras?
I’ve really enjoyed and continue to enjoy the work of so many artists like Stephanie Schneider, Rueben Wu and Neil Krug; to whom I feel I owe a huge debt. I know some shoot with many different film formats but instant film has been in there. I’m also consistently in awe of so many other talented artists like Herr Merzi, Lisa Tobas, Bastian Kalous, Warboys and Britt Grim, to name but a few, who push the medium with their great passion and inspiring work. I’m always discovering new artists and look on with a great admiration at how they are redefining the medium.
Instant film is more than a passion, it’s a real commitment. It takes a lot of planning, patience, consideration and skill to get to a place where you are satisfied with the results and that in itself takes dedication.
I am just breathless when I see the quality of work that artists realize and look forward to see what happens as technology changes and new developments emerge. I think there will be growth to a point, but it won’t be for everyone.
Film is costly and with just 8 shots per pack you need to really slow down and think out each one. Personally, I enjoy that part of the process as we live in a frantic world and so space to really slow down, think and consider what you’re doing is a real gift.
It’s great to discover other artists and I believe social media should not simply be about self-promotion, I think it’s nice to take the time and support and encourage someone’s else’s work if you appreciate it. I feel optimistic for the future of the medium and look forward to see what direction it takes.
If you had the last pack of Polaroid film on earth, how would you use it? What would you like to capture with this last one pack?
Well, after I’d panicked and shed many tears, I would go about a plan for my instant film swan song.
I would probably like somehow to encapsulate what I refer to as my ‘Holy Trinity’-the three places up to now that I love: Anglesey, London and Spain.
These would no doubt incorporate my characters on location giving thanks to the many inspirations. I would no doubt include my pet dog of the time as a character and would also cast some close friends and others. If I haven’t got to California, then maybe one around Death Valley or Mullholland Drive.
It is a lovely idea that the historians of the future could discover these magical worlds imprinted in time forever on the film and in much the way they consider what cave paintings meant and communicate, they will try and make sense of these curiosities on film. I’d be delighted if they liked the outfits!
If you want to see more of Clare’s work, here are some links: