Born in South Africa in 1960, Claire Beynon immigrated to Dunedin from Cape Town in November 1994. She enrolled for a BA Fine Arts at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in 1979 (course subjects included History of Art, Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Ceramics, Latin and English), and graduated in 1982 with a Distinction in Printmaking and the Faculty’s Certificate of Merit. The following year, she was accepted onto the postgraduate Printmaking programme at the Chelsea School of Art, London, and spent several months there working alongside experienced Printmakers and technicians such as Tim Mara.
Claire’s first solo exhibition was in Johannesburg in 1984. She has exhibited regularly since then, with solo and group shows in New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the Republic of China. Her most recent exhibitions were ‘ALTERED GROUND’ in March/April 2002 at The Forrester Gallery, Oamaru (an exhibition being toured to various other regional museum venues next year), ‘BEARINGS’ at Milford Galleries Dunedin in 2001 and ‘IN CONVERSATION’ at the Arthouse, Christchurch in 2002. A finalist in the 2001 Cranleigh Barton Drawing Award, she won a Merit award in the same competition in 1999.
Working predominantly on paper, Claire is committed to demonstrating drawing as an authoritative medium in its own right. Her images are densely worked, multi-layered and often on a large-scale. Combining formal, abstract elements with strong references to local form, light and shadow, her work crosses the boundaries between the familiar and the mysterious, linking the physical with the metaphysical. Writing is an integral part of Claire’s creative expression. She sees the processes of writing and image-making as part of the same continuum, with words and images in constant, energetic dialogue with each other.
In May this year, her poem titled ‘The Mystery Sonatas’ was awarded first place in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s International Poetry Competition.