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Claire Knights, Beach Creative

Claire Knights - Sculptor

After graduating from Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury, with 1st Class hons, in Fine Art, in 1992; I went on to become a fully fledged Type 1 diabetic which put an application for an MA at the Royal College on hold.  

At Japan's, international, 'Osaka Triennial' I pipped over 10,000 entries, from 91 different countries, to become the youngest artist to be honoured with Bronze Awards in both Painting, in 1993 and Sculpture, 1995.  I used my prize money to make artistic pilgrimages; traveling extensively throughout Japan, Korea, China and Tibet, studying Japanese gardens, architecture and culture with which I had long been fascinated and which had inspired my art work. This is when I first saw one of Hokusai's 'Big Waves' in the flesh.

I did some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure when I taught art in two Surrey Prisons in 1994.

1999 saw my greatest creation with the birth of my son.  Art was put on hold for a few years when, as a single parent, it was hard to find the head space for my own work so I became involved with community projects like an Alice in Wonderland Primary School Float, which won first prize at The black Cherry Fair, a Contemporary Totem Pole with a Preparatory School and as an Arts Facilitator for 'Creative Response' - Art for Vulnerable People.  

My work went more garden related in the 00's with group exhibitions at RHS Wisley Gardens, The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park and the beautiful Borde Hill Garden in Sussex.  My parents had always been keen gardeners and both were very creative and inspirational.  My mother created beautiful flower gardens, encouraged my obsession with making mud pies and plate gardens and my Father was a Master Builder who began his trade as a Joiner in a boat yard on the Thames.  It was no coincidence that later Sculptures, about impossibilities and paradoxes, used materials from the builders yard and construction site.

My next award was not until 2008, when I joined garden designer, Selina Botham, to make Sculpture for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2008. 'A Word in Your Shell-Like' consisted white, alginate, casts of my ears, and ear-like shells hanging in a tree - (a pop-up workshop at Glastonbury Festival was spontaneously formed and I had groups of people sanding and finishing my ears); Silver Birch garden screens (I like to think that they were the start of the show garden trend for using silver birch) enclosed the garden, and silver birch slithers provided visuals on a listening wall (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Interactive, percussion, sculptures made from copper were played on Press Day. We won an RHS Gold Medal and Best in Show in the small Gardens category. 

As a spin off from this we were able to submit a design for a Chelsea Show Garden which although accepted by Chelsea was never made. Based on Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' and the quote "All The World's A Stage" it consisted of a mobile stage, which had been made from an old Caravan for Woodnestock Music Festival in Woodnesborough. Under my art direction and the hard work of various members of the community of The Black Pig Pub in Staple, 'The Fabulous Faberge Little Rig Stage' was born and can now be seen in The Anchor Pub in Wingham which is now home to Woodnestock Festival, where I met the man who would eventually lure me back to East Kent and suggest mad ideas like "why don't you do a painting on the hockey pitch in Beacon Road.  Stuart Hume you must be mad!

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