Claire Partington creates delightful ceramic figures that synthesize historical characters, myths, fairytales and folklore. Her figures exist in a world that blends genres and time periods to present historically informed, contemporary and socially conscious works.
With the hand of a formally trained sculptor, Partington creates exquisite figures, clothed in an 18th Century Marie Antoinette-style dress, paired with Adidas sneakers, gold chains and carefully placed Chanel logos. Partington plays with our attention to status cues, now and then, and how we identify our tribes. Her work seeks to explore the subtle mutations of the timeless narrative of the haves and have-nots, as it morphs and changes with each retelling and altered context.
As Partington explains, subjects and themes explored in her work are drawn largely from the European tradition of “appropriation and reinterpretation (or misinterpretation) of “exotic” styles that can be seen in National Collections across the world.” Partington relishes in borrowing from many styles, themes, disciplines, time periods and countries – blurring the lines of styles and meaning. The resulting sculptures present an intriguing and fantastical story of traditional and contemporary visual narratives.
Partington’s powerful exhibition Taking Tea is on view in the Porcelain Room at the Seattle Art Museum through 2020. The first contemporary artist to exhibit in this space, Partington’s exhibition explores the dark historical themes surrounding the tea trade such as forced servitude, shipwrecks and the exploitation of international trade routes that resulted as the demand for tea increased. Claire Partington graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins with a degree in Fine Art Sculpture. Her work has been included in several museum exhibitions, most notably the Victoria and Albert Museum.