The Sweetest Thing: We chat with Clare Longley

This is going to be one interesting experience.

Prue Stent, Clare Longley and Honey Long’s repertoire extends across photography, collage, sculpture, illustration and painting. That’s pretty impressive for three girls in their early twenties.

Known for their immersive works, the trio are teaming up for the first time this summer. Sugar Mountain, a summit of music and art, will see Prue, Clare and Honey present an explorative exhibition.

With their collective work being described as ‘sexual, surreal, sensual and strange,’ this is going to be one interesting experience.

We met up with Clare during her Sugar Mountain preparations to chat art, feminism and the festival.

How did you ladies first meet?

Prue and Honey have known each other since high school, and Prue and I have known each other for four years. We’ve never really worked together as a trio. When Pete from Sugar Mountain approached Prue to see if she wanted to do something, it was a natural thing for us to finally all do something together. 

You and Prue recently worked together on her photographic series, ‘Pink’…

Yeah, I did a bunch of the photos with her, although it was solely her project. The way we naturally always work is that it’s kind of just hanging out and taking photos together.

A lot of people say the art you ladies create is heavily feminist in style and message. Is that something you consciously try to put in your work?

I guess that comes up quite a bit. I think that [feminism] is one of the things that makes us friends, in a way, and influences our work a lot. We are all interested in the way females are existing and adapting to the world around us. I think this is really important to us – it naturally comes out in our work. It’s more of an investigation into the female body and relationships with other cultures and the environment. 

How did you become interested in the creative arts? 

Personally, it has always been something that I have grown up doing. My parents are both quite creative. Growing up I was going to exhibitions, making things and being quite physical, not only creatively, but just being in the world and learning about things. I guess speaking for Honey and Prue, it’s not too different. Prue has been taking photos since she was very young on disposable cameras, and things like that. I think for us, it’s a way of interpreting the world and processing it. Especially when trying to figure out what you think of the world around you and your place in it. It’s good to be able to share that.

What can punters at Sugar Mountain expect from your exhibition?

For Sugar Mountain we wanted to find a way to combine all our ideas together. Without giving too much away, it will be an exhibition involving photography, painting, collage and some sculptural elements. It’s to do with the nervous system and the way that your body isn’t just what’s external. It’s more to do with bodily functions – blushing when you are embarrassed, getting sweaty palms when you are nervous. It’s an exploration of the internal, I guess. 

Have you faced any challenges being a female in the creative industry?

I didn’t leave school that long ago and one thing that we discussed a lot was whether artists’ work is gendered or not. People think it’s not ideal if you can [tell the gender of the artist]. I guess mine, and also Honey and Prue’s work, can be quite gendered. That is a challenge, just because you make what comes naturally to you and you don’t want to fake it. I guess for all three of us, the female body and female form is a natural influence on our work.

I know it is kind of trendy to make feminist work at this point in time, but it is important, because you experience it. If being a female is a challenge, I don’t think that would be a negative thing for us, I think it would maybe be an inspiration.

Can we expect the three of you to collaborate again after Sugar Mountain?

Absolutely. I think we’ll continue to work together. Hopefully it continues to evolve and can be something that we keep doing together. We are also looking at re-using the work and perhaps having another exhibition, just so as many people as possible get to see it. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully (laughs). 

You can see Clare, Prue and Honey’s work at Sugar Mountain, Saturday January 23 2016.

Interview originally published in Fashion Journal issue 153.


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