Clair Walton has lived with HIV since the mid 1980s. Now in her mid fifties, her art practice emerges out of the secrecy and silence during the early years of HIV/AIDS and her own diagnosis. She has a particular interest in the unheard voices of women, and the silences surrounding the UK infected blood scandal (where 1243 haemophiliacs received contaminated blood products and some infected their wives/partners). She explores the silencing, silenced, silences, and the ultimate silence of death.
Before being diagnosed HIV she decided to forgo the opportunity to go to art school in the late 1970s and instead embarked on a career in archive conservation. She has held many senior positions and has been responsible for the care of internationally significant historical material i.e. Shakespeare’s First Folio. The upheaval and interruptions of living with HIV culminated in a return to her art practice - for it was whilst undergoing a conservation masters degree at The Royal College of Art (based at the V&A) she fell seriously ill. It was during her recovery she began to articulate her experience through her own art practice. Informed by her background in archives and conservation, she has an interest in employing the archive as a vehicle in her practice by manipulating the concepts of time and place to bridge the gap where silence remains.
She currently spends her time between archives, art and activism by running her own archive conservation business, making art, and being an activist in pursuing truth and justice for women infected with HIV via blood products.
Clair Walton’s work exposes the vulnerability and uncertainty of human existence, and the power of the human spirit to prevail in difficult and fragile circumstances - reflecting the hopes, courage and instincts that are held onto in moments of adversity.
BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art (First Class) Birmingham School of Art
MA Degree in Fine Art (Commendation) Birmingham School of Art
B-Art-eR (co-curator) Birmingham 2010
New Art West Midlands 2013