05 January 2011

Clem Crosby


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I’m a painter. I paint oil pigment on a plastic laminate surface, Formica. The laminate is purchased in thin sheets and then glued to an aluminium support using a contact adhesive. I buy my brushes from either building supplies or the usual art stores. I only use Michael Harding paints and I never use mediums apart from a little linseed oil once in a while and double rectified turpentine. My paintings range from 98 x 49 inches down to 18 x 14 inches in size.

What drives you to make the work?

Painting anchors me to this earth and it gives my life a sense of grandeur.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day work practices?

I go to my studio almost every day, even when I teach. This continuity is important because it’s easy for me to forget. I can forget how to load the brush, how to draw with the paint, how to start, or how to make a mark. Most of my process involves starting again, either erasing or obfuscating.
My whole practise is really a huge rescue operation, a process of attempting to save the work. I don’t have any natural aptitude for making art. I have little or no imagination and its such a hit and miss process that I need to be there quite a lot. From the minute I enter my studio I begin to push the paint around until I get the green light to proceed, this can sometimes be a few days or a few weeks.

How long have you been working in that way?

 I’ve tried many different ways of working and it seems that even though my painting arrives via loads of experience and tenacity, I have at least found a way to work that allows the optimum chance for that occasional success to manifest.

Which artists have had the greatest effect on your work?

Influence doesn’t happen to me the way it used to. When I was a student I painted in the manner of a different artist every week. I read most of the key texts and visited the library to read back issues of Artforum and the like every day. Soaking up everything was the beginning of my education. I no longer feel influenced by any single artist but occasionally I am liberated by the courage of others. To name a few contemporaries; Jessica Stockholder, Phyllida Barlow, Ross Bleckner’s work of the 80’s.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Making music, I am in a band called Kunstkick, I also frequent the Young Vic Theatre here in London and the courage and energy of the actors is so completely edifying. Anything ‘live’ with a chance of failure is exciting. I love the old tapes of Sunday Night at the London Palladium staring Bruce Forsyth and Norman Wisdom, both flying by the seat of their pants. In some ways I wish I had been around for Music Hall. The common theme here is ‘fear’.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

I’m just happy if people engage at all.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

My son, Stanley Bud Gould Crosby, who was recently born on the 20th December 2010. Nothing compares.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

Last year I had a sell-out show in San Francisco, a first for me, this year I have been offered a show at Rachmaninoff’s, a London Gallery run by Maggie Smith and Matthew Arnatt, during March – April 2011.


  1. Thanks for posting this interview. I have been really interested in his work after finding it on your other site and over at Oblidi. Your aim continues to be perfect in selecting artists to feature.

  2. I'm enjoying the interview aspect to FP. Crosbys answers, I thought, were very honest.

    Thanks FP/SI


  3. Yes, refreshingly honest. Just get in there and do it! painting is indeed an anchor. Love your work, Clem.

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