Under the Influence…

November 19, 2007


One of the bits of this blog that gets most visits is the page called ‘Looking at…..’ 

In it I cite the artists who I’m currently influenced by, or at least, artists who I’m keen to look at and learn from. 

I’m often asked who I’m influenced by and, despite the blog page, it’s a question I find difficult to answer.   I’m can’t say I’m conciously aware of being influenced by anyone, though of course this is utter nonsense as we’re all influenced by others and  inevitably ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. The problem is it’s so hard to be aware of that influence.

However I am aware of finding certain artists ‘enabling’.  By ‘enabling’ I mean that I probably wouldn’t work as I do without their example.   For instance I owe a lot to Richard Long and his stone lines and circles…..

long-cr10.jpg Richard Long

However, I’m not following in his path (no pun on his work intended) but rather forging my own, since Long’s concerns, aims and intentions are completely different from mine.  But does this mean I’m influenced by Long?  Of course it does – though subtly and indirectly, and hence the difficulty.

Similarly Andy Goldsworthy often gives me the confidence to make certain types of work though any similarities are purely coincidental  (See previous posting ‘Shadows Past’)

In my newly proposed ‘Metamorphosis’ piece (see previous postings) where slate flakes will be spread on the floor in the form of a giant shadow I do feel that there is a danger some folk will see my work as a poor man’s version of a Tony Cragg ‘spread’……. 

 cragg-spread-r15.jpg Tony Cragg

I only know Cragg’s work from books and the web, but I like what I see.  Though I’ve never looked to him for ‘ideas’ or ‘inspiration’ I’d nevertheless say he’s another candidate for my personal collection of  artists I find ‘enabling’. 

There is nothing new under the sun – look hard enough and someone, somewhere will have made something similar to you. I often feel that at some point in his life Bruce Nauman has made work that pre-figures some aspect of just about everyone else working at present.  Perhaps it’s a ‘zeitgeist’ thing?


So am I influenced by Long, Goldsworthy and Cragg?  The answer is ‘yes’,  although I’ve always developed my own work independently, finding my own path via my own working processes.


Artists like Cragg often make social comment in their work, which I never do. For me the big question  (actually I think it’s the only question) is the one Gaugin asked: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we Going? 

Until I know the answer I’ll just get on with making what I can as best as I can.  What more can one hope to do?


11 Responses to “Under the Influence…”

  1. Maggie Says:

    Hi Clyde
    I admit to the same difficulties when asked that question about influences. However you have influenced me too… our recent conversations about shadows and your work, made me look at shadows with a fresh perspective. Have just blogged about it and photograph is on my blog. I think the important thing is to maintain your integrity and individuality and you do that in abundance Clyde.
    Best wishes

  2. clydeolliver Says:

    Hi Maggie
    I don’t quite know what to say – but thanks anyway for your kind comments!
    Best wishes

  3. Moira Says:

    Hi Clyde! Glad to see that you’re well and truly back in blogland. Sorry that you didn’t get the expected Scottish spoils but loved you’re little sketches all the same.
    PS love the little “three stitch” slate piece.

  4. Jane Says:

    Hi Clyde,

    I love “Welsh Quilt II”. It’s really beautiful, even from a photograph. Do you like the New Zealand sculptor Martin Hill? His work is meant to be temporary so there’s only photographs to enjoy. Luckily your work is permanent. What material are the stitches made from? I did see them at The Knitting and Stitching show in the Ally Pally (was that really 2003?) and it looked like a type of rope but I’m not sure

    Best wishes for your blog


  5. clydeolliver Says:

    Hello Jane
    I mostly use linen thread as it is good and strong, though in some pieces I use agricultural (baler) twine and sometimes rope, which is perhaps what you remember from 2003.
    I’m sorry to say I don’t know the work of Martin Hill, but will look out for him.
    Thanks for your comment

  6. alison Says:

    Your comments on influence are of the kind that are always on my mind, too. I think we are always influenced by people whose work we admire and look forward to seeing, even if we can’t put our finger on exactly how that influence may be lurking in our own backgrounds. Actually since I learned of your owrk a couple of years ago, I would cite you as one of mine, along with Constance Howard, Dorothy Caldwell, and Nancy Crow. I hope I have the chance to see some of it in the flesh one day.

  7. clydeolliver Says:

    Thanks Alison for your kind and thoughtful comments.

  8. Enid Says:

    My sister went to the Extreme embroidery exhibition in New York and was amazed to see the work there, not really having conceived of textiles as being ‘fine art’she emailed to tell me of its success. When looking at the exhibitors list saw that GB was represented by your Slate work, which delighted me. Hope it was successful for you, and you enjoyed NY

  9. clydeolliver Says:

    Hi Enid
    Extreme Embroidery has been a great success, though unfortunately I haven’t been able to travel to New York this time.
    I’m glad your sister enjoyed the show, and thanks for commenting!

  10. Hello Clyde!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I’ve been interested in stones all my life, although I live in an unpromising area for standing stones (East Anglia)and instead focus on the pebbles on the beaches!
    The last entry in your blog was November. Is there more tucked away somewhere else? I enjoyed seeing how the ideas developed.

  11. clydeolliver Says:

    Hi Amanda
    Glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. I had to give it a rest owing to sheer pressures of work (it’s very time consuming). However I see that folk are still visiting the site, so perhaps I’ll write just a little bit more before closing the whole project in a month or two – we’ll have to see…..

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