Interview: Jennifer Clews

Jennifer Clews is an artist based in Glasgow who explores real and imagined space. She considers space and objects in relation to the human body and mind and how objects are representative of the human form. For Hidden Door, she is working on a project in response to the Old Leith Theatre and in relation to the scale of the human body.

In your proposal you mention exploring the sculptural properties of video and sound, when and why did you choose to do this?

I graduated from the Sculpture and Environmental Art department at The Glasgow School of Art in 2013, which I am sure has had a major impact in the way that I understand video from a sculptural perspective, and as having spatial properties.

Can you say something about your thought process and/or the material process behind your work?

I am interested in the way that the body navigates space. Through playing with two and three dimensions, my work explores both ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ space. My work considers space and objects in relation to the human body and mind, and – by extension – considers objects as representative of the human form and state. Within this context, I am also interested in the psychological impact of repetitive sound and movement.

Is there an artist or any creative work that is reflected in your work?

I am most interested in works that consider the material properties of video and sound, in the making of the work, or the ways in which the work is exhibited. I have found the installations of Lis Rhodes, Bruce Nauman, and Jane and Louise Wilson helpful in developing my understanding of this. The practices of Smith/Stewart and Harrison and Wood have been really, very important to me in helping me situate this conversation within a context of its relation to the body. I think of all of these artists as sculptors, in the same way that I do Rachel Whiteread, because of the ways in which they consider space. I am also very interested in the way that Marcel Duchamp (with Man Ray) explores optics … All of these artists contribute towards my own process of understanding and framing themes found within my work.

What do you personally like about your work?

I like that my work is exploratory…, I like that in some ways it is very simple.

How did you get to where you are now?

As I mentioned above, I graduated from the Sculpture and Environmental Art department at The Glasgow School of Art in 2013. I have a long-standing interest in contextualising the artistic activity happening around me, and because of this interest I enrolled in the Art History: Politics: Transgression course at The University of Glasgow in 2015. While I was there, my dissertation (which was titled ‘Video: The Medium of Open Culture’) looked at Glasgow-based video practices as they were c.1973-1978. This paper explored video in terms of the cultures built around its use, and at the ways in which the materiality of early portable video facilitated collectivity and the development of alternative institutional models.

From this perspective, I am now looking to re-situate my explorations of video within a studio context, which Hidden Door is helping me achieve.

Can you say a few words on what Hidden Door is about for you?

I think the Hidden Door festival is a great supportive framework for artists, in that it provides space, time, and a discursive context for new work. It’s important to emphasise how crucial this kind of practical support is, and the important role that Hidden Door plays in the production of culture by keeping this space and discussion open.

To see more work, check out Jennifer’s website and Vimeo channel.