Artist Statement 2022
Clayton John is a South African-born mixed media artist who has lived in Australia for the past twelve years with his young family. He has spent the best part of a decade ‘finding’ himself in this ancient place, with a view to arriving (as far as is possible) at an understanding of the way in which the land (and its flora) is an integral part of being ‘Australian,’ particularly when considered from the point of view of First Australians.
In this light, Clayton sees trees as a spiritual metaphor, which in his work, are an illustration of the nature of our being, made up, as we are, of an amalgam of past experiences. The trees he creates are constructs of fusion – digital collage – that incorporate multiple species. The environs these beings inhabit are constantly shifting, redefining, presenting darkness, light, challenge and the potential for growth.
His latest series – Imaginata Australis began to take shape during lockdown 2020 using foraged flora that caught the eye during permitted daily walks being brought back into the studio. Each of these were coated in beeswax, vigorously rubbed with metallic pigment and then photographed against a blue screen to allow for the creation of a digital collage. A separate ‘analogue’ process creates the backgrounds by way of plaster, metal, copper, earth, oxides, slaked lime. The consequent fusion of digital collage and handmade background results in a giclee´ print that is then manipulated with carving tools, modelling plaster and hot and cold waxes. The objective is to arrive at a tactile viewing experience where analogue and digital become analogous.