Clare Thornton Memorial

Many of you will have known Clare Thornton who sadly passed away earlier this month following a long illness. Theatre maker and Theatre Bristol Artist Support Associate, Tom Marshman, has written the following tribute to her. Before her death, Clare set aside funds to establish a memorial residency opportunity, and a crowdfunding campaign is currently ongoing to raise additional funds to match Clare’s own contribution.

Untitled Performance Stills (2010)

We remember Clare Thornton, who worked with and alongside many of Bristol’s performance community. She was the most generous of artists who made collaboration the heart of everything that she did.

She was always ready to have a good chat and this was a talent, which was firmly embedded within her own arts practice. She was most certainly an inspiration to me, particularly in how I now place establishing conversation as integral to how a projects kicks off. She taught me so much about how engagement work can be genuinely engaging!

I worked with her on a wide range of projects when she was in Bristol and lived with her on City Road. It was inspiring to live with her, as she was always ready with helpful ideas on how to shape a project at every stage. She was endlessly supportive and understanding.

Together with Paul Clarke we formed Performance Re-enactment Society, a playful take on historical re-enactment groups. Instead of re-enacting battles, we were interested in re-making past shows, in cover versions of artworks, along with collecting and archiving people’s memories of performances that inspired them. The accompanying photo is Clare’s contribution to Untitled Performance Stills (2010), which we made with Hugo Glendinning for Plymouth Arts Centre’s The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow (2010), a recreation of Silke Mansholt’s, In Memorium Nature (2007), from Clare’s memory.

I also really admired Clare’s solo practice, which was very diverse yet always had so much visual clarity. She was the most inspiring and engaging of people, full of curiosity and had such an infectious way of talking about things that you couldn’t help but pick up her ‘Clareisms’, which now live on!

Clare wanted to impact and support the future development of artist-led culture with KARST, the contemporary art space and studio in Plymouth where she was based, so she set up the Clare Thornton memorial residency, which is the best tribute and an ideal way to remember her.

You can support this by visiting the crowdfunder:

Written by Tom Marshman, April 2019