Clare McFarlane has a Masters and an Honours Degree in Fine Art from Curtin University, where she also completed a Graduate Diploma in Cultural Heritage. She has held four solo exhibitions in Western Australia and participated in many group shows. Her work can be found in numerous collections including the City of Perth, Cruthers, Curtin University, Artbank, Joondalup Hospital, Bureau of Statistics, and Alinta Gas.
Clare’s paintings reference the histories of scientific inquiry and the decorative arts to investigate Australian identity. “Whereas Australian identity is commonly represented in the masculine, my work offers a ‘feminine’ perspective” she states. Drawing on the designs of the William Morris Company (founded in the UK during the 1860s), she combines this lyrical Pre-Raphaelite patterning with the detailed depiction of birds, butterflies, insects and plants native to Australia, arranged so as to reference the collection of specimens for scientific inquiry. The appearance of these Australian elements “is sudden: arriving or emerging from a Victorian sense of beauty and nature – tamed and domesticated – in structured patterns.” Clare also looks to the mysteries of the southern night sky for inspiration, combining the seemingly random splendour of the constellations with the restrained elegance of Victorian pattern making. She observed that her paintings “represent a dichotomy between romantic beauty in the natural world and our understanding of it through scientific knowledge.”
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