“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
Growing up in Kenya during the late 1950's and 1960's I remember going on safari (meaning journey in Swahili). We would set off early in the morning with 2 land rovers laden with big tents and supplies to the Athi River. Driving for hours into the bush, often along tracks barely visible, as night descended after setting up camp, my earliest memories are of lying in my bed in our tent listening to a night chorus of crickets, frogs and hyenas, with an occasional solo performance from baboons, big cats and elephants. Our tents lit by paraffin lamps would draw some lizards and insects towards the light and I would look on with fascination whilst feeling cocooned inside my mosquito net. Waking up in the morning to baboons sitting on top of the landrover, and my Father's exasperation due to his leather brief case been chewed up most likely by hyenas! We spent many years living in Narok that in those days was just a one street town with a few duka's on a dirt road! I loved watching Masai warriors in the market with their cattle, leaning on their spears chatting about the meaning of life. My love of nature and an intense curiosity for life began here surrounded by grassy plains, rolling hills, rivers and wildlife and colourful people within a diverse cultural landscape.
Since then I have always been in awe of the beauty in nature and the colourful diversity of culture, and eager to express the connections between nature and culture, and inner and outer transformations of life through art. Creating art is visual intimacy for me, it's like tasting the world with my eyes.
I am mostly self-taught, and the medium of my choice is mostly oils on canvas and copper. Through studying various painting techniques handed down through history, I admire the layered Flemish technique of the old masters as well as the use of shadows and lights in chiaroscuro used to achieve the illusion of a 3D world. When I paint, I always keep this in mind with the power of suggestion of sensuality, serenity and mystery. For me the whole process of creating art from conception to the final glaze is tranquillity of pure contemplation.
Each piece of art work is a journey in itself as in my work titled "The Treasury". To create this painting, I lived with the Bedouin in the village of Sayhun adjacent to the caves of Petra, Jordan, riding on my camel each day to paint. Battling with the dust, chatting to passers-by and friends about the meaning of life.
Clare Littleton spent her childhood growing up on the Masai Mara, Kenya, East Africa, and has developed a varied career and a deep understanding of community of culture and appreciation for nature and wildlife.
At the age of seven Clare travelled back and forth from Kenya to boarding school in England and later completed her education at the University of Wales graduating in environmental, social and cultural anthropology. Much of Clare’s work over the years has involved field research and travel to various parts of the world including Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, Jordan and Jamaica. Many years later Clare returned to Jordan to live with the Bedouin in the cave city of Petra where she continued to expand her knowledge of community of culture through the medium of art and photography.
Clare is now living her dream with passion painting full time. Currently settled during the pandemic in a most beautiful part of West Wales overlooking the Teifi River, surrounded by nature, Clare's work continues to evolve through compositions that entice the viewer into a world she shares through her captivating artistic style.
Littleton endeavours to reference distinct layers of human emotion in her figurative works that can be detected in the beautifully painted faces and postures of her models; indeed it is clearly possible to perceive an influence of Sandro Botticelli when considering the serene expressions found on the subjects. Every composition reflects a passion for life in its most organic form as Littleton celebrates the natural processes through her works. The artwork ‘The Kiss’ offers insight into the artist’s mind through the amorous couple depicted as well as in the tenderness of the expectant mother illustrated in ‘Lady Eleonore’. Littleton elegantly incorporates magical scenes into her figurative works; the figures she portrays are often presented in the foreground of a sweeping field or with blossoming flowers cascading through their hair. This symbolic detail evokes the primordial connection between man and nature which continues to inspire Littleton’s works, whilst suggesting an influence of Frida Kahlo who also had a sincere connection with nature and famously integrated leaves and flowers into her self portraits. Further analysis reveals a deeper link between the colour palettes utilised by Littleton and Khalo who both adopt bright and earthy hues in their works to enhance the organic semblance of their depictions.
Critique by Timothy Warrington