Clare Shenstone2017-12-05T13:08:03+00:00

Clare Shenstone

Clare Shenstone is an English painter who holds a MA degree from the Royal College of Art. Shenstone’s portraits exist in some of today’s most prominent public and private collections including The National Portrait Gallery and The Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury collection. Shenstone has been awarded the Brian Sinfield Fine Arts Award (2000) and the Public Choice Award, Hunting Art Prize (2001). Shenstone began her career as an artist, following her graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1979. Her portraits have since become renowned internationally, particularly those of Francis Bacon, her mentor and subject for many years.

“When I am painting, I’m not trying to produce an illustration… I can’t see the point of just copying things. I’m trying to produce something that will make a connection. And I hope by doing that I’m making the viewer look at the image and identify with it, because that is what communication is about.”

Clare Shenstone

I used to go to London Zoo, quite early in the morning, before it had opened to the public. Some of the Royal College students could go there for free on Tuesdays. Strictly speaking, it was only the Graphics students who were allowed to go there – I was Fine Art – but I was never the kind of person to worry about that sort of thing.

When I went to the zoo, I couldn’t bear seeing apes in cages, behind glass, and when you looked at the gorillas, there’d be this gorilla sitting there and the way he looked at you, the torture of him being there, with these people coming past him all the time and taking flash photographs of him. Horrible!

But it was there that I met an orangutan for the first time. This orangutan was at the back of her enclosure and I immediately wanted to draw her.

So, I would sit and draw her and they’d bring her some fruit so she’d come to the middle and have some food. Making contact with her took some time, but I would come and she knew that I was drawing. She knew that the way I was looking and the contact I was making was totally different to the normal human being, I was very aware of that, because she was interested.

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