Staying local for a self-initiated urban explorative project, Daniel Clarke, an illustration student at Camberwell College of Arts, focussed on the misconceived “Mugger’s Paradise” that is the Heygate estate in London’s Elephant Castle. Reductive, observational drawing and surface collections created during frequent visits to the doomed council estate made him familiar to the seven remaining residents still occupying the empty flats. From them, he came by the stories of former inhabitants and the estate’s history, which he made into a book, sitting next to his own careful, textured documentations.
The attention paid to the desolate architecture took the form of drawings, rubbings and collected surfaces which were then photocopied and manipulated into the flat-perspective collages of the buildings and imagined scenes of Heygate’s heyday. As a project we were drawn to Clarke’s simplistic yet thorough detailing and the overall aesthetic effect of such a personal and dedicated approach. Lovely stuff.
At the time of making/creating this project, who or what was your biggest influence?
I was slightly detached from my usual way of working. I realised I wasn’t going to find any inspiration within the four walls of my cramped, dingy bedroom, so I was spending a lot of my time outdoors exploring, looking for new inspiration.
Through doing this I found the most important part of the project – these were the stories I gathered from the residents of the estate. Without talking to these people I wouldn’t have had anything to go with, these people made the project work. Whilst these had a huge impact on the project, I was heavily influenced by the architecture of the estate – the different materials, surfaces and structures of the buildings which influenced the visual language of my illustrations.
What is the most valuable thing you have learnt at university to date?
The power of friends – being able to talk to my course-mates is the best. They’re in the same boat as I am, so who better to communicate with about my work? At the same time, studying at Camberwell I have the opportunity to get great feedback from some of my favourite practitioners which has definitely helped me push my work substantially over the past two and a half years.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t at art school?
I’d most likely be working with my old man as a painter/decorator, sanding down walls with hands too rough to even consider working as an illustrator.
Where are you making/creating most of your work?
Currently I produce most of my work at home – I live about 100 yards from college so that’s pretty handy. Plus I’m far too messy to work in the studio at uni as I’m sure I’d annoy half the class with the swarm of ink and photocopies that I seem to spread all around me. I always tell myself to take advantage of the printing facilities at college but I always find I have too much going on to get up there – hopefully this will change over the coming months!
What are you working on at the moment?
A project based on the short story Chronopolis by J.G Ballard. This is a course project set by our tutors for which I am creating an animation based on the city’s system of time. It should be completed soon so keep an eye out on my website to see the finished thing. I’ve also just finished a series of skateboards for the brand Blueprint Skateboards which you can see here I’m just about to get started on a new bunch which I’m excited about.
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