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Clare Woods and Des Hughes: The Sleepers

[ Exhibition )

Oil painting by Clare Woods of an abstract female figure with dark skin and golden hair.

Clare Woods, Lady Midnight, 2016, oil on aluminium © The Artist

New paintings by Clare Woods and sculptures by Des Hughes created in response to our collection and the celebrated Arundel Tomb in Chichester Cathedral.

Bringing the work of Woods (b.1972) and Hughes (b.1970) together in the domestic rooms of the Queen Anne townhouse provided an opportunity to explore the creative relationship between an artistic couple. As the Gallery’s first commission to ask artists to create a dialogue with the permanent collection, the exhibition revealed the continuing relevance of sculptors and painters such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Graham Sutherland to contemporary artistic practice.

The exhibition also included a monumental painting by Woods called Lady Midnight (2015), which started with a found black and white photograph of a surrealist dancer She was drawn to the idea that ‘when you look at a bronze by Arp or Brancusi you have to move around it, spend time with it, you have to think about the weight in a way that is completely different to ‘flat’ imagery; a concept that poses questions and difficulties for a painter’. This was a major contemporary art commission for the stairwell of the 18th century townhouse and was on display until October.

Woods and Hughes first met as students at Bath School of Art in 1990 and have been partners for over 25 years, but up until 2015 they had never shared a studio space together. Both artists have an interest in sculpture, with Hughes exploring the materials, methods and traditions of sculpture often with a black sense of humour, focusing on brass and steel for this exhibition. Woods works as a painter, but she considers her paintings to be physical objects. She works flat on aluminium panels in oil and enamel, masking areas of paint to create layers and crisp linear forms.

A new monograph on Clare Woods published by ART/ BOOKS, including a contribution by Simon Martin, coincided with the opening of the exhibition and is available in the Pallant Bookshop.

Want to know more?

If you’re conducting research into this artist or another aspect of Modern British art and would like to use our library and archive, please contact Sarah Norris, Collections Manager on

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