Spanish Steps, Digital Design on Graphic Vinyl, 2023
“Messenger” will form a triptych across the iconic three flights of Wembley Park’s Spanish Steps. The work will be made up of clusters of wings morphing and evolving together in an optical illusion of colour and depth. Wings have often been seen as the expression of aspiration towards a higher-than-human condition, a bridge of imagination, thought, freedom and victory. In ancient Greece, Hermes had winged heels, a symbol of the traveller and the messenger, this was said to represent the carrier of dreams, of impulse, of movement. The Greeks also represented love and victory with wings. According to Plato, wings represent intelligence and understanding. The new ‘Messenger’ artwork on the Spanish Steps will act as a gateway of possibility, a pathway that can hold the dreams and aspirations, of those before and what is to come.
At the junction of theatre, performance, photography, and technology, Claire Luxton explores the art of self-representation. Luxton started her education focusing on photography, however she felt constrained by the limits of medium-specificity. At that time, she started shaping her visual language and quickly realised that her preferred source material was her own physicality. Her body became the most appropriate tool to explore emotions, affections and concerns. At the centre of her practice lies her own vulnerability as a way to connect with viewers.
Often triggered by something she has read, Luxton’s work delves into a variety of histories. Most of her projects start with an extensive research period where she looks for literary, artistic, botanical, animalistic and musical references, as well as exploring colour, texture, and objects. Using her own human features — eyes, nose, lips and hands — as a base for her compositions, she constructs otherworldly narratives, populated by butterflies, flowers and clouds. Inspired by Italian and Northern Renaissance portraits, all the components of her images play with classical symbolism. A way into interpreting her portraits is through her carefully crafted titles and accompanying poems, such as Unravel, 2023.
Luxton performs detailed narratives for the camera. Her images first exist as a sculpted set, where the model, herself, shape-shifts through cosmetics, props and light. And all ornamentations compliment each other. An immersive quality, or element, is achieved thanks to post-production digital technology, leaving the viewer wondering if they are looking at a painting or photography. Luxton states that she “creates canvases thanks to photography”. More recently, as a way to share her fantastical universe with a broader public, she has been projecting her work in public space, allowing buildings to become her canvas.
Inspired by art history’s masterpieces, Luxton explores the place of humans in nature and the specificity of the female experience in society, including prejudices built around the opposition of beauty and intellect or mental health. Luxton’s themes are beauty and life, decay and death, melancholy, and romanticism