to Claire Lambe's Art Journal
Note: as from Sept 2013, Claire has a new website:
All new art work will be logged there. She hasn't yet decided what to do with this Live Journal site but may re-purpose it for her theater designs, sets & costumes, and student work. In the meantime, do please check out the new website.
Claire is also a regular reviewer of art exhibitions for Roll Magazine, an on-line arts magazine serving the Hudson Valley, New York. Following are links to a selection of her reviews:
I work in a number of different and, seemingly, contradictory modes: representational portraits and studies in oil, open acrylics, graphite and other drawing media; semi-abstract pieces usually in acrylic and mixed media. More recently, partly thanks to my work in theater design, I have found myself drawn to sculptural tableaux. I say "seemingly contradictory" since to me they are not so different - the portraits particularly demand an attention to detail and nuance that, when I am in the process, is utterly abstract, perhaps more so than the mixed media compositions, while they in turn have their genesis in narrative, as do the installation pieces. With the exception of my mixed media pieces, which are part of my archive, my fine art pieces, including my portrait projects and commissions are now housed on my website: clairelambe.com
The mixed media pieces are about the nebulousness of memory. I begin with a clear image from my memory and I then proceed to gather evidence that the memory is real while bearing in mind that all memory is imperfect. The evidence can be photographs, letters, recipes, snippets from newspapers and magazines, lists from the phone book, passages drawn from literature, and drawings. In the making of the artwork I add and subtract, create, destroy and that evidence. In the process of the destroying I am always trying to hold back, or save, details, as you would on waking from a dream that is dissolving even as you try to grasp and hold on to it. Sometimes the holding on is successful and sometimes it is not - sometimes the process will not allow it and sometimes the process produces unexpected details and images. Memory is a funny thing - there will be faces and events, colors and places, not necessarily the important ones, that remain in clear focus in our minds while others become shadowy and hard to grasp like the dream that dissolves on waking, yet even when the memory disappears beyond reach, it leaves a residue: the ghost of a feeling; of a mood: an atmosphere. These are common experiences to all of us and this is the line of inquiry I take as I work on the paintings.
As a theater and installation artist, in addition to serving the script or the concept, I always strived to attain a "less is more" result - always difficult but I am very fortunate that our budget ensures that I cannot stray too far from that imperative. To me, the perfect set design is symbolic - the audience/viewer then has the freedom to bring their own interpretation to the pieces. We (The Woodstock Players) partly exist to produce my partner's plays - one per year anyway - so the ideas for the set emerge even as the play is being written, but we do also produce other people's work and, without - I hope - running roughshod over the author's wishes, it is terrific fun to re-imagine the world in which a play that has been around the houses, is set. One example is American Buffalo, by David Mamet, which is quite naturalistic, the script calls for clutter - it is set in a junk shop which is largely destroyed at the end of the play. My solution there was to create a tight set piece that was taller than it was wide to represent the claustrophobia of a cluttered junk shop with stacks of shelves crowded together in the center of the stage through which the actors came and went. The play was performed in two radically different venues - the first, a conventional black box theater where I was able to use flats, including a window flat, and a door to create an almost Gothic effect. The second venue was essentially a gallery space and all white; this forced me back to the symbolic and I pared the set right back to its essential ingredients to exciting effect lending truth to the acclaimed theater designer Jocelyn Herbert's observation that "physical limitations and budget restrictions can, sometimes, result in a more interesting or imaginative production..." In this setting the set became a sculptural installation or symbol of a junk shop. The installation Rock, Paper, Scissors - on view at the Dorsky Museum at the State University of New York in New Paltz was conceived purely as an art installation for Hudson Valley Artists 2012, subtitle: "Dear Mother Nature..." and curated by eco-art curator Linda Weintraub (see my interview with Ms. Weintraub for Roll Magazine HERE ).
For more about my theater work, please go to the Theatre Design page.
Media includes drawing, acrylic paint, photographs, maps, letters, image transfers
Review of group show HERE
New website: clairelambe.com
Installation shot from Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird at the Kleinert/James Art Center in Woodstock, 2010
The Wedding Portrait: details
Fall Ophelia - 36"x48"
The Uninvited Guest, 60 x 48" - Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas
Feast I, 24"x24" Feast II, 24"x24"
The Dreamer, 24"x24" - mixed media on canvas
Hell From A Distance, 48"x48" - Acrylic and mixed media on Canvas
Island, 48"x48" - Acrylic + mixed media on Canvas (unavailable)
Spider, 30"x30" - Acrylic and Map on Canvas (unavailable)
Road Map, 40"x 30" (unavailable)
The Kiss, 48 x 48" - Acrylic on Canvas (unavailable)
Away Alone A Last A Loved, 36" x 48" - Mixed Media on Canvas
The Sorceress aka Genesis, 60 x 48" - Acrylic + Mixed Media on Canvas
The Sorceress/Genesis - detail
During my years as an Art Teacher at St. Kilian's Deutsche Schule (German School) in Ireland, I led students in the creation of murals every year but didn't do commissioned murals outside of school. In 2012 I was commissioned to paint a ceiling mural of angels in the sky - part of the plan was to base the primary angel on the home-owner's teenage daughter - this is what qualifies the following to be in this section of the journal.
Below: the finished mural - unfortunately I wasn't able to get far enough away to get the whole painting in the frame - this was taken with the camera on the floor so focussing was also an issue.
The night-sky - this is where the light fixture goes. The power of "retouch" allowed me to eleminate the hole for the sake of this photo. It includes the major constellations but the shine diminishes the detail. Below is a photo of the unfinished mural - my clients needed their dining room back for a couple of days - missing is the Harp Angel and some of the ceiling structure. Will get a better quality photo of the completed mural in due course.
Studies for the mural are in the "Drawing" section of the journal.
Following are some of the murals made during my tenure at St. Kilian's Deutsche Schule, Dublin.
Mural for the Gymnasium corridor.
"Door #1" Trompe l'oeil door in the cafeteria. The door design is the same as the real doors to the classrooms in the school. The interior is what one would expect to see if one opened a door on any corridor - it was the rule that students put their chairs on the desks at the end of the day to aid the cleaning staff in their work.
"Door #2" - Trompe l'oeil door in the cafeteria - in this case, not what one wold expect to see if one opened a classroom door. The image on the right shows the painted door and, in the back ground, a real door to a real classroom.
Following are some examples of early portraits - please visit my website HERE to see my more recent portraits.
Please note: new portrait works + information on commissioning a portrait are on my new website:
Musician I Musician II - Oil on Board
Young man from the Ukraine
The Traveler Girl
Carey At Work 2009
Life Painting 2012
Life Painting 2012
Following is a selection of works on or with paper from 2010 to the present, including an installation (viewable at the Dorsky Museum in SUNY New Paltz, NY until November 4, 2012). The works at the bottom of the page illustrate how some drawings formed the basis of posters for productions for The Woodstock Players Theater Company.
Nature Watches - 14"x11" - graphite on paper 2012
"Fall with Scissors" - 22" x 30" - ink and collage on paper 2012
"New Species" - 22" x 30" - Ink and collage on paper 2012
Above "Rock, Paper, Scissors" - Installation Plan
Below is the installation - it went through many changes in its execution. It became far taller and the composition of the birds changed in response to the experience of watching a large hawk being "mobbed" by some tiny birds in the lead-up to making the sculpture. This piece is an ongoing project and cranes will continue to be added to the piece - the aim is to create 1,000 origami cranes over the course of the exhibition (June to November 2012) to fulfill the Japanese "Legend of the Crane" whereby folding 1,000 cranes creates the circumstances for a wish to be granted.
Rock-Paper-Scissors - details
Media includes paper, scissors, egg-shell (one of the primary components of eggshell is calcium carbonate, a substance found in rocks the world over), also plexiglass, PVC piping, wire mesh, wire and mono-filament.
*I am currently working on plans for a suite of installations connected to this installation.*
Below - Strange Weeds and Blockage
Studies for Ceiling Painting (see "Portraits" for finished piece).
Studies for primary angel based on home-owner's daughter.
(Below) the titles of the four studies of T.S. Eliot refer to poems he wrote at different stages of his life as echoed in the portraits themselves. The text is drawn from those particular poems. Giclee (archival pigmented inkjet) prints are available for the first three T.S. Eliot drawings.
T.S. Eliot - from The Four Quartets T.S. Eliot - Gerontion
20 x 16", actual image is 14 x 11" 20 x 16" total, image is 14 x 11"
Graphite on Paper Graphite (Giclee only available)
T.S. Eliot - The Love Song T.S. Eliot - I Don't Know About Gods
20"x16" framed. Mixed Media 14"x11" - 3 D Mixed Media
(Original unavailable - Giclee is available) (Unavailable)
"Gerontion" and "From the Four Quartets" framed
Below: Je suis le ténébreux
Je suis le ténébreux
24"x18" total paper - image is 14"11", Graphite on Paper
Life studies from 2010 - 2012
Study, charcoal, March 2010
Life studies, March 2010
Life studies, March 2010
Trey, study in charcoal - April 2010
Trey - study for painting - charcoal, April 2010
Trey - study for painting - graphite, April 2010
Carey Harrison as The Magus
Graphite on paper - May 2010
Poster for the play "MAGUS"
written and directed by Carey Harrison
Designs by Claire Lambe - June 2010
Mikhail Horowitz as Baruch Spinoza
Graphite on paper, May 2011, study for poster
Poster for "MIDGET IN A CATSUIT RECITING SPINOZA" - June 2011
Poster for Hedgerow Specimen - June/July 2012
[Scroll down for my Resume]
I am a multidisciplinary artist, a theater designer, writer, and educator. I was born in southern Ireland and began my formal art education at the Crawford School of Art in Cork City where I studied graphic design; later I attended Ireland's National College of Art and Design in Dublin where I switched to Fine Art majoring in Printmaking. After graduating with a BFA and a post-graduate diploma in art education, I taught art and art history teacher through "A" Level.
In 1996 I relocated with my family to the United States settling in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. I pursued and was awarded an MFA in painting at the City University of New York. In 2001 we moved to upstate New York to the legendary artists' colony town of Woodstock. In addition to working in my art studio, I manage a theater company The Woodstock Players which my husband, author and playwright Carey Harrison, and I founded together in 2010 - I am the company manager and designer. I also write about art, theater and film for Roll, an on-line arts magazine serving the Hudson Valley.
In addition to my native Ireland and adopted America, I have spent substantial periods in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece.
2001: MFA in painting: City University of New York, Brooklyn College.
1986: Graduate Diploma in Art Education: The National College of Art & Design, Dublin, Ireland
1985: BFA Honors in Fine Art Print, minors in Art History and Film Appreciation: National College of Art & Design, Dublin, Ireland.
2013: The Instructors' Show curated by Eric Angeloch. The Gallery at the Woodstock School of Art, Woodstock, NY - USA
2013: Painting and Drawing curated by Anya von Gosseln. Newtownbarry House Gallery, Bunclody, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
2013: Black & White, juried by Peik Larson. The Gallery at the Woodstock School of Art, Woodstock, NY
2012: Hudson Valley Artists 2012: Dear Mother Nature... Curated by Linda Weintraub.The Dorsky Museum, SUNY New Paltz, NY
2012: Water, a juried show. The Muroff Kotlar Visual Arts Gallery, SUNY Ulster, NY
2013, 12,11,10: Member's Show. The Woodstock Guild, Woodstock, NY
2010: Go Said The Bird, two person show. The Kleinert/James Art Center, Woodstock, NY
2010: Cowgirls 3. The Brik Gallery, Catskill, NY
2006, 05: Open Studio, 1835 Glasco Turnpike, Woodstock, NY
2001: Thesis show. The Brooklyn War Memorial, Brooklyn, NY
2001: MFA candidates. Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
2001: College Art Association MFA Exhibition, curated by Dr. Jack Flam. Hunter College Times Square Gallery, NY
1994, 92, 91: Grogan’s Annual Art Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland
1992: Oireachtas Exhibition, group. Guinness Hop Store, Dublin
1991, 90: Irish National Portrait Awards Exhibition, Arnott's, Dublin - juried.
1990: Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery, Dublin - group.
1986: Arks Printmaking Award Show. The Bank of Ireland, Baggot St. Dublin
1985: The Decade Show, group. The Guinness Hop Store, Dublin
2010-present: "The Woodstock Players Theater Company:" co-founder, company manager and designer responsible for: website, graphic design, costume and set design.
2010: Co-produced with Manhattan-based "Dangerous Ground Productions" a play by the poet Robert Kelly at the Historic Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock, NY.
2009: Worked with Manhattan based "Untitled Theater Company 61" to bring productions to the Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock, NY
2012: Roll Magazine On-line: contributing writer and reviewer www.rollmagazine.com
2005: Teen Life In Europe (part of the Teen Life Around the World series), contributing author. Published by Greenwood Press
1986: The Sunday Tribune (Irish national Sunday)- magazine section: color illustration
2002: The Tedi and Orville Moyes Award for Painting, CUNY Brooklyn, NY.
1989: St. Mary's of Donnybrook: recognition for excellence in Art Education.
1986: Arks LTD for Fine Art Print.
2012: Poughkeepsie Journal, August 17 edition"Enjoy" section, favorable mentioned for artwork in the Hudson Valley Artists 2012 "Dear Mother Nature" at the Dorsky Museum from Linda Marston-Reid, President of The Dutchess County Arts Council.
2012: Roll Magazine, August - for Hudson Valley Artists 2012 "Dear Mother Nature" - mentioned by curator Linda Weintraub in an interview with Donatella de Rossa as one of four artists who "provided vivid examples of the ‘diversity’ guiding my curatorial decisions."
2012: Art Times Journal (July/August edition): "Culturally Speaking" section: Review with praise for Set Design for the Woodstock Players production of the play Hedgerow Specimen
2012 The Woodstock Times (June): preview on the Woodstock Players production of Hedgerow Specimen with illustration by Claire Lambe
2011: Wombat's World - blog review: favorable mention for costume + set for MAGUS, a The Woodstock Players production.
2010 : The Woodstock Times (February): preview articles on Go Said The Bir exhibition with reproduction by Claire Lambe
1994: The Irish Independent (national newspaper): favorable mention in review of Grogan's Annual Art Exhibition.
1991: The Irish Times: (national newspaper): op-ed article with reproduction on a submission in the National Portrait Exhibition
1989: The Irish Independent: School Survey: article on The Pembroke School for its high school art program (designed and taught by Claire Lambe) as being among the best available in Dublin for that year.
34 Easton Lane
Tel: (+) 845 679 1242 ~ Cell: 845 901 2893
Note - as I will be moving most of my artwork to my new website over the next month or so (September 9, 2013 at time of writing), this Live Journal account will be employed primarily for my theater design and murals - I might even start blogging on it! I will certainly add links to my art commentaries published in Roll Magazine. In the meantime, I am working on a series of portraits mostly painted from life and am open to commissions, so please do visit the new website for my newest work.
This page contain graphics, and drawings, and photos from my theater design work with The Woodstock Players, and some notes about the productions and design.
*Click HERE to link to THE WOODSTOCK PLAYERS website*
Endgame was written by Samuel Beckett in 1957 when the horrors of the WWII had given way to fears of a nuclear holocaust and people became obsessed with building bomb shelters. Endgame ponders the question what if you are unlucky enough to survive in your bomb shelter? The play is not so much a black comedy as it is a dark comedy.
The set: Beckett's sets are as spare and minimal as can be, which suits our budget of almost zero.
I wanted Hamm to look like a down-at-heel King on a throne and Clov to look like a Chaplinesque butler, but who is slowly giving up on the formalities of his dress suit uniform.
Sarah Chodoff and David Smilow as Hamm's parents Nell and Nagg
I imaged them already in their shrouds. As the stage doesn't have a lower level and a trap, we need to have trash cans that could allow the actors an escape route + decided there was no reason to use 1950s style trash cans.
Above: Clov the slave and in "going away" costume; below the three-legged "Pomeranian." It is supposed to be made by Clov - I found this brilliant dog online - clip art perhaps, and we used that as the inspiration for the dog.
Violet Snow as Violet Thorn the Hedgerow Specimen
Hedgerow Specimen was about a woman who abandons her family to travel the byways of America. She spends 27 years meditating on the wild plants that grow in the hedgerows with only, what she perceives to be, a snail for company. One night she witnesses a murder and is forced back to the word of people.
The plants were grown over a period of 3 months while the photos for the slides were taken over exactly one year.
Above, Joe Bongiorno as Jimmy Weatherby, Violet Snow as Violet Thorn
Above: Violet Snow as Violet Thorn - Holly Graff as Anna Saunders
Richard Bennett as the Judge - costume referenced various other scenes and details in the play
Below, installation shot
Below: Set Design sketch for American Buffalo
The completed set for the black box theater at CPA Rhinebeck, NY
The junk shop with back lighting
Ideas for costumes
Below, Carey Harrison as Donny Dubrow, Alex Bennett as Bobby, and Thomas Vernier as Teach
When we moved the production to the Kleinert/Jamers Art Center in Woodstock
we decided not to bring the flats but just have a more pared down symbolic set especially as it would be set against a white background
The center set piece installed in a white space - lighting created shadows on the walls
Mikhail Horowitz as the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza
Set, Costumes & Properties design by Claire Lambe
The play which was also a play within a play within a play; a surreal fantasia - was set against a very simple set made up of benches with hooks on slats above for hanging clothing - it was both a back-stage (theater) dressing room and later a changing room in Auchwitz - white against the blacks. There were slides of Salvador Dali's paintings, rendered in black and white, projected onto a screen - the slide changed with each scene. The palette was primarily black, white and red.
Above scene: Salvador Dali at a party in Munich 1937
L to R: Mikhail Horowitz as a waiter/Baruch Spinoza/Idle Jack, Mick O'Brien as Salvador Dali/Adolf Hitler/King Rat/concentration camp prisoner, Violet Snow as Katya/Nazi Guard/Rat/concentration camp prisoner, Terri Mateer as a waiter/Nazi Guard/Rat/concentration camp prisoner.
Below: Kris Lundberg as Mary Jane Hammond from Ohio and as Dick Whittington
Above scene: the "Party" party - slide: Leda and the Swan, Salvador Dalí
Dalí makes the acquaintance of Mary Jane Hammond/Hartmann from Ohio
The party and the guests fade into the shadows as Dalí discovers what an American Jewish girl is doing in war-time Munich
Dalí unveils of the painting: Midget in a Catsuit reciting Spinoza
Below: The painting: Midget in a Catsuit Reciting Spinoza by Claire (Salvadore Dalí) Lambe
The script dictated that the painting had to dictate certain elements including a cat and a waterfall, both of which were problematic. Dalí didn't often use domestic animals so I decided to incorporate the cat into the landscape in a pose similar to the Panto cat we meet at the beginning of the play (who recites Spinoza). The cat's tongue is a path that becomes a scroll (possibly with Spinoza's words written on it) and then a waterfall that is representative of Mary Jane, the heroine's Pre-Raphaelite like hair. The rocks and boats in the water make up Mary Jane's face. The watermelon is referenced in the play when Hitler, at the tea-party, tries to get Mary Jane to taste some of Lenin's brain which he has acquired from the Moscow Brain Research Institute, and which he tells her tastes like watermelon. So I was thrilled to discover that Dalí had included a watermelon, from which mine is modelled, in one of his still life paintings.
Above: Sketch for costume for Hermann Goering - as the same actor doubles as the cook Mrs. Sausagemacher in the panto sections, I decided to make Goering's famous white suit a chef's suit and, as he is still a bit of a pantomime Nazi, felt his medals ought to be huge. On right is Richard Bennett as Goring.
Slide in backgroud: Cow by Savador Dalí
Below: Carey Harrison as Karl Schmitt - nazi ideologue. Slide: Three Spinxes
The dressing room benches become supports for the Nazi flags.
Preparing for afternoon tea with A. Hitler - Mary Jane has to wear a nice German dirndl dress. The rats' costume's are cinched at the waist with belts, and hats and arm bands added for the rats to become Hitler's personal body guards. Slide: Still Life Moving Fast
Above, Adolf says: "Shall I be Mother"
The pantomime in the play: Dick Whittington and his Marvelous Cat ends and the scene morphs back to wartime in Auchwitz.
Final Scene: Spinoza, under a curse to live forever, survives the Gas Chamber.
Slide: The Persistence of Memory gradually changes to full color during this scene.
MAGUS was set in the garden of the palace of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II of Prague, where various characters were visiting including the magician (magus) Sir John Dee, a young William Shakespeare, Cervantes and a time-traveling Franz Kafka whose mission it is to rescue his sister Ottla from her delusions that she is married to the Emperor. Therefore the costumes required were from the 17th century and from the 20th century. The play was performed in two different venues so there were some changes to the set as one stage was a good deal larger than the other.
MODEL FOR THEATER SET: MAGUS - JUNE 2010 (Also models of actors for blocking).
As the play was set in the mind of a disturbed woman, or her distraught brother, I wanted the set to be like a drawing that is caught half way between becoming three dimensional. So the elements: the bench and the fawn especially were a combination of 2D and 3D.
THE MAIN SET at The CENTER for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck
The set in the Rhinebeck theater with George Conrad (left) who played Franz Kafka.
Below: image of Prague projected on cylorama as the Pre-set in the Rhinebeck production.
The left side of the set in the Byrdcliffe Theater - the set is much more pared down
Also in Byrdcliff but not Rhinebeck were the "watchers" - three faces that echoed the audience. In Rhinebeck we gave up the watchers in favor of having the cyclorama.
L to R: Wiley Gorn as Shakespeare, Peter Rae as Kafka, Trey Kay as Cervantes
Above: Brittany Sokolowski as Ottla Kafka
(This is a good view of the fawn - it is set against a back-lit reverse-painted screen which I happened to have in my garage.) Wiley Gorn as William Shakespeare and the arcangel Uriel, with Kris Lundberg as Jane Dee and Deborah Tiberio as Joan Kelly.
Carey Harrison as Sir John Dee (magus) and Phillip X Levine as Edward Kelly
Mark Kanter as Emperor Rudolf II and Peter Rae as Franz Kafka
Rudi Azank as William Shakespeare in MAGUS 2.
Below: KAFKA'S BUG MASK - left as a work in progress
I gave this mask as a keepsake to the actor, Peter Rae and so had to make a second, and I have to say, better, version when we reprised the play the following winter. One of these days I'll get it on here.
Click HERE to link with THE WOODSTOCK PLAYERS website