Claye Bowler

Claye Bowler is an artist based in the UK. His practice centres on collecting experience. He does this through working within themes of archives – looking at the political priorities of historical and current collecting, exploring the body as an archive, and envisioning alternative forms of archiving. Casts of objects and body parts, collected ephemera, photographs and documents, drawings, performance and film, all come together to create sculpture and installations. Claye has a strong connection to sound and music. He integrates these elements into his work, experimenting with his voice and field recordings. Additionally, he has an interest in traditional folk singing, drawing parallels in its cultural history, and ways of collecting with that of queer history.

In 2023 Claye was selected for Jerwood New Work Fund, which will support Claye to create a new body of work. This follows on from a recent residency through The Jerwood Newlyn Residency, where Claye used casting to collect found remnants of sculptural production by the public on the beach – sandcastles, writing/drawing in sand, digging holes.

Claye also rediscovered a British folk song at Penzance Folk Club – The False Bride – which talks of a grave being utilised as a space of rest, contemplation, and waiting. The open grave being between life or death, teetering, in purgatory. Claye is now looking to expand the focus specifically on the concept of digging holes on the beach. Drawing parallels from graves as a place of waiting, Claye reflects on waiting times of trans healthcare, transition of relationships when queer, and waiting for things to ‘get better’. Additionally, Claye comments on the uptick of queer and trans violence now, including incidents of murder and suicide. Claye intends to create a sculptural installation containing a series of works where the public can place themselves in a grave. Utilising grave sites as spaces for introspection, waiting, and solace, symbolising both rest, transformation and mortality.

This exhibition will be touring the UK to four venues. The first of Claye’s works to tour nationally, and will utilise the spaces and resources of each venue, working with digital media, outdoor sculpture and performance.

When asked what he was looking forward to about his Jerwood New Work Fund project, Claye said,

I’m enthusiastic about pushing the boundaries of my existing sculptural projects, venturing into making expansive and immersive artworks. Building on from recent sculpture courses supported by DYCP funding, I intend to develop further into fabrication techniques, large scale casting, and the utilization of resilient materials like metal and jesmonite. The outcome will be artworks designed for public engagement. These works will move between indoor gallery spaces as well as creating my first outdoor sculptures.

Sandcastle cast, 2023, plaster & beach remnants. Image by Claye Bowler