In her work Barclay explores different craft and industrial processes, arranging objects in an intuitive and poetic way. Barclay assembles both common and precious materials into beautiful and menacing installations which often leave the viewer with a heightened sense of awareness.
Sewn leather, hand- printed fabric, machined metal and porcelain objects are integral media used in Barclays work. These materials are commonly viewed and accepted as possessing the aesthetic of quality and preciousness. By combining these materials, Barclay initiates a commentary between formal sculpture and objects imbued with implied functions.
Her work also addresses the contemporary issue of self-image, the attention we give to our bodies and how we are influenced by vanity, fashion and superficiality. Barclay's interplay between formal structures and emotive objects enables these groupings to become metaphors for the human emotional struggle of today.
In her inaugural show at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Barclay is inspired by the surrounding ambience of West London. She specifically investigates the fetishism of crafted leather and metal goods and grooming objects which are prevalent in the exclusive arcades of Mayfair. There is an implied ambiguity in the show's title Silver Gilt. It simultaneously refers to Barclay's preoccupation with surface structure and the guilt associated with the consumption of luxury goods.
Claire Barclay has exhibited throughout Europe and Australia. Recent solo exhibitions include Foul Play, Doggerfisher, Edinburgh in 2005; Half Light, Art Now, Tate Britain, London in 2004; Ideal Pursuits, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee in 2003; Homemaking, Project Space, Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Take to the Ground, The Showroom Gallery, London in 2000. Barclay represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in the exhibition Zenomap, Palazzo Guistinian-Lolin in 2003 and she is currently exhibiting in The British Art Show, BALTIC, Newcastle until 8 January 2006. This exhibition then tours to various venues in the UK. This year Barclay was a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award granted by the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Funding board.