CLAERWEN JAMES (b 1970)
Claerwen James originally trained as a molecular biologist at Oxford University and Cold Spring Harbor, NY. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2003, and has won various awards, most notably the Slade School's own Melvill Nettleship Prize for Figure Composition. Introduced to Flowers Gallery by Andrew Stahl as part of Artist of the Day in 2004, James has gone on to have numerous solo exhibitions both in the UK and the US.
All of the portraits originated as photographs: some scavenged, some taken by the artist, who believes that the awkwardness of the photographic moment is crucial to the painful, elegiac quality of the paintings. Among the images used are those from Claerwen James' own childhood.
In 2006, Francis Spufford wrote that Claerwen James' subject matter is, in a sense, the photographic moment, when a point in time is snatched from the flow, "sealed into stillness and set in strange relationship to the continued life. . . which we do not see in photographs but which they always imply, giving the medium its mortal edge."