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Having been brought up near Morecambe Bay in north west England, artist Ruth Claxton first responded to the invitation to create a temporary work for Weston-Super-Mare by reflecting on the divergent characteristics of the seaside town.

And My Eyes Danced (Temporary)

Location: Model Yacht Pond, Marine Parade

‘The seaside town is a space for fantasy where everything is slightly heightened and unreal,’ she suggests, ‘but only for a few months of the year. In season, the whole town seems to turn on and perform for the visitor and then settles back to being something slightly different when the tourists go home.’

In her gallery-based artworks, Claxton creates environments from clusters of coloured and mirrored surfaces encased in circular hoops which the audience may walk amongst. Repeated, framed glimpses of the viewer and reflections of the surrounding architecture create a mesmerising and disorientating experience.

In Weston, Claxton was drawn to the oval concrete form of the Model Yacht Pond, built in 1934, which lies on the southwest expanse of beach, near to the derelict Tropicana lido. At one remove from the frenetic activity surrounding Pier Square, the Weston Wheel and the Grand Pier, the Model Yacht Pond was originally one of two ponds on either side of the Grand Pier, which were designed to be filled naturally by the sea at high tide and used for sailing model boats.

Claxton’s temporary sculptural installation And My Eyes Danced, used the Model Yacht Pond as a frame and comprised a dynamic series of overlapping rings in three formations with circular glass panels inserted into different sections. The materials used were specially selected by the artist to utilise the changing light, weather and water level and to withstand the harsh conditions of a marine environment.

Claxton worked with Marine Engineer, James Khreibani, and fabricator, Richard Cresswell, to develop this complex sculptural form. By laminating the glass discs with a dichroic interlayer Claxton created a work which, despite its scale, resisted becoming fixed – ‘a slippery shapeshifter of a sculpture’, she describes, ‘which on different days will appear to rise above, float on and or sit beneath the surface of the water. Depending on your viewpoint and the prevailing conditions, the glass panels shifted in colour and surface, appearing as a reflective, synthetic sunset; yellow one moment and offering a transparent, turquoise view through to the watery depths of the pond the next.’

Ruth Claxton

Ruth Claxton was born in the UK in 1971 and lives and works in Birmingham, UK. Her most recent exhibitions include Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2010), John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2010), Spike Island, Bristol (2009), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008), Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (2008), Faye Fleming and Partner, Geneva (2009) and Gallery Loop, Seoul, Korea (2009).



With thanks to:

Richard Cresswell, R. Cresswell Designs
James Khreibani, EngCo Solutions Ltd
HDG Construction
Bob Smith, RSA Engineers

Ruth Claxton was supported by Birmingham City University Centre for Fine Art Research


Birmingham University