There is grittiness mixed with tenderness in the charcoal drawings of New Mills artist Clare Allan. They capture the essence of her home town so perfectly that looking at them you instantly feel as if you are there.
In this job I hear the words ‘sense of place’ quite a lot and, although they don’t pass Clare’s lips, I realise that in her case they are definitely appropriate.
Her pictures portray the High Peak industrial town in a positive way with the warmth of someone who loves the place she has lived in since she was four (apart from the time she was at art college in Hull she points out).
There is a simplicity about the pictures which belies the expertise she has in drawing with charcoal. And that’s exactly what she wants.
“I like the fact that I don’t work with any complicated equipment just some paper and charcoal. I like the directness – the connection of hand, eye and paper,” explains the 49-year-old.
“I draw from life wherever possible. Sometimes I can be out in the car, or simply sitting at the window at home. What is important to me is that the drawings reflect how I feel to be in that place. It is difficult to explain, but it is the emotion that I am feeling that I want to express.
“My drawings are not simply random landscapes. They are all meaningful places to me. What I am doing is recording stories and histories that are part of my everyday life – whether it is a shop window filled with cakes or an industrial factory.
“I don’t want these places to disappear and then be forgotten I want them to be recorded in my drawings.”
Clare studied Fine Art at Hull and trained in printmaking and she explains that she now applies a method similar to etching to her drawings.
Her work as an artist has had to fit around bringing up a family but, as her children have reached teenage, she is focusing more on raising her profile as a fine artist.
“I have built up a certain amount of confidence in what I do now. I sell my work through my website and am featured in several galleries in Derbyshire and Cheshire. I also enjoy attending festivals like the one in my home town, meeting people who are interested in what I do and talking about the work.”
During the New Mills Festival Big Weekend Clare will be exhibiting with a friend and fellow New Mills artist John E Walter whose contemporary geometrical paintings on transparent acrylic sheet are quite different to her own.
The show, entitled Same But Different, is at the studios in Union Road from 11am-4pm on September 23 and 24.
For more information about Clare’s enchanting work go to http://www.clareallanart.com