After graduating, Claire Milner travelled extensively, spending a year in Australia and several months in both Africa and South America. Claire subsequently worked as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator in London; during this time she was commissioned by many large corporations and publishing companies. At the same time she began creating her own works and taking part in group exhibitions. Her interest in portraiture began when she was commissioned to illustrate portraits of Chancellors Gordon Brown and Nigel Lawson, which in turn led to commissions of politicians, central European bankers and company CEOs such as Sir Terry Leahy, Sir Martin Sorrell and Lord Browne. She also researched portraiture in mosaics dating back to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras in a meticulous study of ancient techniques, the result of which was the creation of her own mosaics in a more contemporary Pop Art style. With this expertise, Claire has progressed to specialise in artwork exclusively made with SWAROVSKI® ELEMENTS and painting/mixed media images embellished with crystals. She brings her wealth of experience working in the design and illustration industry as well as her extensive technical knowledge as a mosaic artist to achieve her own instantly recognisable style.
Since deciding to concentrate solely on her career as a contemporary artist in 2009, Claire has created art for celebrity clients including Rihanna and the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Her 5ft x 5ft portrait of Marilyn Monroe is featured on the Official website of The Estate of Marilyn Monroe. Her Swarovski artwork has received global recognition, and her work is regularly published in books and magazines. Her artworks are held in private collections in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Trinidad, U.K. & the U.S.A. In 2011 Claire's business was chosen as a winner of a competition hosted by retail magnate and Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis and shortly after she was chosen as a winner of a competition hosted by one of Britain’s most successful businesswomen; Jacqueline Gold. In 2013 her work was chosen for five separate featured collections with Saatchi Art by Rebecca Wilson, director of the Saatchi Gallery London. Her work was featured by Swarovski alongside prestigious designers in Swarovski Elements Magazine and her portrait of Amy Winehouse appeared in an exhibition in London curated by the Amy Winehouse Foundation to mark what would have been the late singer's 30th birthday. In March 2014 Claire's Swarovski crystal portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will be exhibited with the Rebecca Hossack Gallery at the Hong Kong Art Fair.
I investigate my thoughts in painting/mixed media and Swarovski crystals. In this increasingly fast paced digital age I pay meticulous attention to detail, choosing tactile materials and searching for beauty and meaning in minute detail and the big picture simultaneously. The artwork is labour intensive and technical; each image is imbued with symbolism and references to literature and topical issues. Colour, texture and the duplicity of seeming and being are regular themes; exploring the differences between perceptions and preconceptions. The work questions our consumer driven world which places great emphasis on the importance of celebrity and superficiality; where people, animals and inanimate objects are valued more the higher they are in physical attractiveness.
My latest collection of works throws a light on the intolerable rate at which animal species are suffering and becoming extinct at the hand of man. In these works I draw focus to the expression, created as a Swarovski crystal mosaic, emblematic of the preciousness of the living animal. This medium morphs into mixed media and paint and very subtly depicts the tools of destruction. The works incorporate allegorical references; messages in the dead language of Latin - a symbolic warning - and literature including William Blake and Shakespeare written as graffiti. These artworks combine symbolism and strong messages to raise awareness of topical potential catastrophes whilst retaining an aesthetic appeal. The handprints and stencilled dots reference the birth of art in cave and rock paintings. In this series, in their relevant colours, they represent the hand of man in the destruction of the planet and its wildlife, but also symbolize the ancient practice of Reiki and the capacity to reverse this trajectory.
My technique in crystal artworks is an evolution of earlier studies in Greek, Roman and Byzantine mosaic. To create a portrait, the andamento or “flow” of the crystals will show the muscular structure of the face in the same way as an ancient mosaic. The technique of optically mixing colours, used by the artists of the pointillist movement is critical to these works. Each image contains thousands of crystals, dynamically refracting in a rainbow spectrum, all applied by hand. I use only Swarovski, synonymous with high fashion and luxury, the highest quality crystals which constantly change mood depending on the lighting conditions, an extraordinary effect that no other medium can convey. An artwork in this medium is an investment that has an intrinsic as well as an artistic value. My paintings also incorporate found objects; gold and silver leaf, and include commentary, quotes and slogans. The final splashes can appear quite violent and intense or simply droplets, depending on the meaning. Whatever the subject matter or medium, I hope the viewer can return to my work again and again and have a new experience each time.
Amy Winehouse Foundation, London, UK
Anglian Water Plc, Cambridge, UK
Cambridge Tourist Board, Cambridge, UK
Caspian Publishing (Portraits of Lord Browne, Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Terry Leahy)
Caspian Publishing (Portraits of Gordon Brown and Nigel Lawson)
Caspian Publishing (Portrait of politician Anne McGuire)
Caspian Publishing (Portraits of eight central European bankers)
English Tourism Council, London
Paul A Hill & Co, UK
Professor Iain Stewart for University of Plymouth (Mosaic of hydrothermal vents)
Rihanna, Beverly Hills, L.A. (Swarovski Marilyn portrait)
Royal Society of Chemistry, London, UK
William Reed Publishing
SELECTED GALLERY & MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS & ART FAIRS
2014 AAF, Hong Kong (Rebecca Hossack Gallery)
2013 Proud Gallery, London, Amy Winehouse Exhibition "For You I Was A Flame"
2012 Great North Art Show
2009 London Fashion Week, Platform, Hatton Garden, London
2009 Music of the Eye, Corinium Museum, Cirencester
2008 Waterways Exhibition, Canal Museum, London
2008 Planet Earth Exhibition, in conjunction with UNESCO & IUGS, Opus Mosaic Gallery, Exeter
2007 Facades, Wakefield Art Gallery, West Yorkshire
2006 Symbols of Faith, York Minster, York
2005 Wilderness, The Makers Guild of Wales, Cardiff
2005 The Elements, Museum in the Park, Stroud