'Lead Night Orchids'


A series of nine individual Lead Orchids, 2016, developed from paintings and drawings in the Night Orchids series, in lead on sheet lead with Venetian glass mosaic, and in lead-on-lead.

"The 'Lead Night Orchids', a series that has grown over the last five years, brilliantly combine sheet and raised leaded line, with sheets of tessera. Traditionally a byproduct of the glass process, this material was the impure residue that was no use for glass blowing. It was allowed to solidify into sheets, and then cut into small pieces – tesserae - for mosaïc. So, the leaded 'Night Orchids' are essentially about the interplay of these slabs of opaque marble-like glass with the lead line and sheet. In most of them, the orchid itself has been dissected and dissembled, but it still has the disturbing, heady ability to simulate human sexuality. There is nothing innocent about these flowers: the dark smokiness of the lead ground focuses us on the inherent sexuality, and carries us into a heady, decadent place, and the sepals and petals, while remaining of the plant kingdom, slide into the simulation of human genitalia. Alongside this, and like all flowers, the orchid also has the twilight feeling of hanging between life and death, between beauty and decay, and as such, it reflects a central theme in much of Clarke’s recent work: mortality." – author Professor Paul Greenhalgh writing in The Art of Light.