Imogen Clarke

Born in: 1989, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lives in: Cape Town, South Africa
Media: Illustration, Watercolor, Drawing
Describe your work in 3 words: Subtle. Ancestral. Light.

Call to Prayer - Pen and ink 72.5 x 70 cm

"From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gesture of trees." - Ursula K. Le Guin

Describe your creative process.
The ancient Greeks made a distinction between two kinds of time - 'Chronos' and 'Kairos'. While Chronos refers to chronological time, where events are mapped out and measured in units, Kairos refers to the ripening of a moment, a distinctly energised opening that taps one on the shoulder and whispers, 'this' and 'now'. This is my creative process - to observe and pay attention, to listen to that whisper as it maps out impressions and collected data in my mind, and informs me of the beginning as much as the moment of completion. The stippled style of mark making is done with a 0.13 Rotring pen which allows for control and precision, while the placement of one dot can alter the trajectory of an entire landscape resulting in a simultaneous surrender to the fluidity of something unknown.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am inspired by natural law, pattern, and the subtle worlds of plants, animals, minerals, and the stars, and making art feels like the most direct way of communicating these perceptions in a way that can be shared with others. I also love being able to facilitate some kind of positive internal process in others, and if my work adds value to someone else's life then this brings great meaning and motivation to keep creating!
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
This is the beauty of creativity - there is no one right or categorical answer to this. We all resonate with and respond to different pieces of art in different ways, and there are multiple components that contribute to what is ultimately experienced as a great piece of art such as skill, technique, aesthetics, concept, process, intention, the energy that it transmits etc. The way in which the finished work is experienced, and the relevance and meaning of that experience for the viewer, is as much a part of what makes a great piece of art as the aforementioned components that went into its creation.
What is the role of the artist today?
The responsibility of the artist is to remain true to their unique creative impulse, to nurture it and share it. The role of the artist is not to forcibly convert or convince, but to invite the viewer to step beyond internal preconceived limitations and into a remembering that there is so much more to see and feel if we are open to it.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist