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Image of Steven Claydon, The Ancient Set, 2008. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Jarman Award Shortlist Artist Profile: Steven Claydon

Date posted: 26.11.2014

We spoke to artist and filmmaker Steven Claydon ahead of his Q&A following the final stop of the Jarman Award UK tour at CIRCA Projects in Newcastle.

About the artist

London-based artist Steven Claydon works across multiple media including video, sculpture, printmaking and performance. His art is underscored by a sustained focus on concepts of the artefact, the object, or the 'thing'.

Both formal and narrative, his videos use found and original footage, utilising analogue and digital formats to explore and challenge the viewer's feeling of nostalgia. Through cross-processing the videos produce intricate visual and sonic tapestries. His installations explore the mechanisms of display and received wisdoms that govern our ideas of spectacle.

Through the combination of old materials with contemporary elements, Claydon's work locates itself in a space between the two, engendering a form of artistic diaspora.

Steven Claydon, Bestiary, 2009. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Claydon studied at Chelsea School of Art & Design and Central Saint Martins, London. His recent solo exhibitions include: Total Social Objects, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2013); Rat. Pearl. London. Onion, Sadie Coles, London (2012) and Culpable Earth, Firstsite, Colchester, UK (2012). Group exhibitions include, Assembly: A Survey of Recent Artists' Film and Video in Britain 2008-2013, Tate Britain, London (2013); Busted, High Line Commission, various locations on the High Line, New York and SOUNDWORKS, ICA, London (2012). In 2015, Claydon will launch a solo exhibition at the Centre D'Art Contemporain Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Work & Practice

Claydon started working with film in the late 1980s when he began experimenting with super 8, and his interest in the medium has never left.

His practice took shape when he started using a Pixelvision camera while studying at art school in the USA. This type of camera uses very limited digital pixels which can then be recorded onto analogue cassette tape. "This felt very democratic" Claydon explains. Ever since, he's been interested in certain formats that, through their limitations, can really be tested - a thread throughout his practice.

Since then Claydon has moved on to more sophisticated equipment, but he still likes to use technology that is obsolete or rare. For example, he bought a Fairlight video synthesizer when he was in a band in the 1990s with which he was able to experiment with formal ways of making analogue video by cross-processing. Claydon explains that "the ultimate outcome was something that was very much about the time - about being in the present and the past and looking to the future."

The Influence of Jarman

As with many other artists on the shortlist, Derek Jarman represents an approach and attitude that Claydon relates to, even if their style and technique isn't the same.

For example, Claydon highlights Jarman's Blue (1993) as a particular influence. Although the film is autobiographical, Claydon says "I loved the way the formal aspect is divorced from the narrative aspect". The way Blue was broadcast simultaneously on Channel 4 and the radio was also particularly interesting to Claydon, which ties in with his interest in exploring the presentation and exhibition of work.

Claydon also takes inspiration from the way Jarman employed license within his artistic practice, and was not bound by orthodox disciplines. He sees this thread across the work of all the shortlisted artists, and feels it's important to have space to do this type of work today. "That's what's good about this kind of award", he says.

Coming up

Next up, Claydon has ambitions to make a much longer film, with the working title Things Fall Apart. This is based on the novel by the same name by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe (1958), and Kings Fall Apart, a low-budget Nigerian B movie that Claydon found at Ridley Road Market. As with other work, Claydon plans to take the footage and cross-process it. Other plans include finding a Fairlight video synthesiser and working with that technology again, as well as working on a durational piece.

Whitechapel Weekender

On Saturday 6 December, Steven Claydon will be screening short works which will be followed by a discussion with curator Michelle Cotton.

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