Claire Layman is an established Australian artist. Her paintings have proved popular both in Australia and with overseas collectors. Her work is unique in combining vibrant abstract forms with materials usually found in sculpture – clays, thick acrylics and resins – giving them depth and remarkable texture. In the last two years, she has added the use of encaustic techniques.
“FIREBREAK” is her first exhibition in London.
“I love fire and water. They are exciting and alive. They can also be completely devastating, and fighting fires was part of my childhood.
In farming communities summer meant the threat of fire. The Mumballup Fire Brigade was an important part of summer. All locals were members. Meetings were at the Mumballup Pub, but no one took fires lightly. Prevention, in the form of firebreaks, was the main defence. And when a fire started it was about putting in out as quickly as possible.
Everyone turned up to fight every fire. Sure, there is self-interest involved. Let a fire get away and you might get burnt out yourself. You have to fight everyone else’s fire if you expect them to come and fight yours.
But it was about more than that. It was about self-reliance, local knowledge, fortitude and generosity. It was about making endless sandwiches to take to the fire front. It was about community.
Doing everything possible to prevent fires, and fighting them together when they did happen, was a large part of binding that community.
Painting some of these works directly on to fire hoses of that time have made it especially evocative for me. My father passed away three years ago. He was proud that is his 25-year tenure as Captain, the Mumballup Fire Brigade did not lose a single house or a life.”