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Big, bold and beautiful, Claudia Hocking’s contemporary installations certainly make an entrance. New to the Cornish art scene, she’s already carved a niche for dramatic diptychs, sardine shoals, and glowing mackerels painted on discarded surfboards – all inspired by Cornwall’s dramatic coastline and marine life.
“I like to make a statement with my art, and create a bit of theatre,” Claudia breezes. “My pieces tend to be big and textured, and I like to use block colour. It pulls people in close, and I like that – it creates a bit of drama.”
Perhaps that’s the influence of her surroundings at home, as much as her bubbly personality… her studio perched at the end of her garden overlooking the sea at Downderry in East Cornwall, Looe, bears witness to glassy, shimmering summer swells as well as intense and breath-taking winter storms. Add to that the fact that her husband spends many a day at sea – he comes from a seafaring background, landing a wealth of crab, lobster, John Dory and mackerel, to name a few. “He’s forever delivering fresh fish samples to my studio to help me with my work,” she laughs.
Indeed, Claudia has only been creating marine art on this scale for the last 18 months. “My career has bobbed and weaved since leaving art college in Buckinghamshire,” she acknowledges. “My paternal line is Cornish and I was brought up here from the age of 10. Following my art foundation course in Falmouth, I moved away to study textiles. I then did a stint as a graduate trainee at Harrods in London, and worked in Italy as an au pair for a while, but it wasn’t until I returned to Cornwall on holiday in my mid 20s and met my husband Rob that I really found my feet again and rediscovered my roots.”
Initially, Claudia established herself as a freelance card illustrator working for various charities and doing local Christmas markets whilst bringing up their three daughters. “I did this for a long while, but I’d always hankered to branch out at some point, and to produce art that reflects more my personality as well as produce art that was undeniably Cornish,” she says. “In fact, it’s only in the last 18 months that I’ve ‘gone big’. I’ll make quick, initial sketches with pastels, prior to up-scaling the imagery and using acrylics and inks on wood and canvas.”
Painting on old surf boards is Claudia’s latest adventure on her artistic journey. The idea was born from a commission earlier this year to produce a mackerel painting for the Seaton Beach Café. “They wanted something that would complement their location by the sea, and which could hold its own when hanging on a wall next to an old surfboard! As soon as it was installed on the wall, I could see that the two married together so well – it’s where I got my inspiration for my new signature pieces,” says Claudia.
And it would seem that mackerel lend themselves really well to this new media. “Creating layers of colour and different textures are central to what I try to achieve whatever material I paint with and on. It’s important for people to get up close and feel my art,” she enthuses. “But the surfboards are exceptionally tactile… I like the fact that the old wax residue adds a fantastic, unique quality. It helps bring the mackerel to life especially when their silver hues catch the light. And I love to think of the old boards when they were being used in the sea; it’s a nod to their personalities and former life in Cornwall!”
And so, as Claudia’s love of the sea and her artistic voyage continues, we call time on our lovely chat. Enthusiastic as she is about her art and fabulous Cornish produce, the family beckons for a day out to a part of the county not yet discovered. Her passion and zest for life is as infectious as her work!
Come and browse Claudia’s work which will be exhibited in store for the next 5 weeks or so. If you feel inspired to buy a piece of her art, please ask a member of the store’s team for assistance. You can also find out more online at claudiahocking.co.uk