Meet abstract landscape painter Claire Oxley

From an early age Claire Oxley realised colours and music crossed over for her in unusual ways. Today, her work is influenced by the East Anglian countryside, where the rhythms, pulses, and cycles of nature inform her joyous application of colour to the canvas.

a series of miniature paintings by Claire

Q: Hello Claire, it’s lovely to meet you. You’re based in Norfolk, has the county always been home?

A: I was born in Norwich, and grew up a little way out, in a village called New Buckenham, going to school in Norwich.

After my foundation year I studied at the universities of Lancaster and Oxford (Art and Music, and Musicology respectively), and then taught for many years in Lancashire and Surrey, before returning to Norfolk. The county has a way of drawing people back!

Q: Can you tell us more about your time at Norwich School of Art? How did this inform your practice?

A: I was very lucky to do what was known as a Foundation Course – a year where students could try lots of different disciplines not ordinarily offered as part of A levels at school.

But I always returned to ‘Fine Art’ painting, and that’s what I’ve continued with throughout my teaching and practice. After that, I took a joint honours in Art and Music at Lancaster University, before reading for my Master’s in Musicology at Oxford. 

Q: Seasons, skies, seas and moons inform your work, as well as local flora. Could you tell us more about your process?

A: I photograph landscapes in East Anglia a lot, and these form the basis for my works. Initially I have an idea for a piece, and start by layering paint, letting it dry between layers, usually keeping the colours very ‘clean’, but at a certain point I pay less attention to the starting point and let the painting tell me what it needs.

This is often done without thinking too much about it (in fact, this is essential!), but by responding to what’s going on. In this way, I don’t feel that I finish paintings as much as resolve – or balance – them. 

‘It slowly dawned on me as a child that not everyone thinks of their friends and family members as colours, or structures music visually, but the experiences of my senses are often ‘crossed over’, and this is very exciting.’

Claire’s painting’s ready to leave the studio

Q: You include a quote by Wassily Kandinsky on your website. Like Kandinsky, you are a synesthete. Could you tell us more about how you experience sounds and colour?

A: It took me a while to work out that I have a condition called synaesthesia. It slowly dawned on me as a child that not everyone thinks of their friends and family members as colours, or structures music visually, but the experiences of my senses are often ‘crossed over’, and this is very exciting.

Music inspires my art hugely. Currently I am working on a body of paintings that are based on composers who have worked in the region, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, and Thomas Morley. In this I play with the vast spectrum of abstraction, responding to the music in a more-or-less intuitive fashion.

Q: Your paintings feel alive with movement. What do you hope to convey in your work?

A: The landscape in East Anglia has terrific skies, colours, patterns – this is perhaps obvious – but for me in addition it’s the music that I experience with it – and I can’t quite explain that – but it’s something to do with the rhythms, pulses, and cycles of seasons and times.

It’s an agricultural area, and a county that’s very much connected to its physical attributes. And then there’s the sea – something to which I am very drawn.

Q: Who are the artists that inspire you the most? 

A: This is a hard question. I suspect that my work follows a tradition of Modernist painters such as Matisse, van Gogh, Klee, Gilman (a distant relative), Diebenkorn, Nash and Ravilious, the surface textures of Cy Twombly, and the musical textures of the composer Ravel.

Mondrian’s progressive abstraction of trees perhaps best sums up the way in which I can select a more-or-less representational or abstraction of landscapes.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you?

A: A Folk Song Suite is the exhibition of music that responds to composers from the region – that opens in March 2023. After that, it’s fairs and gallery appearances across East Anglia for the rest of the year!

Related stories

spotlight Meet painter and printmaker David Price

The Margate-based artist talks to curator Becca Pelly-Fry about his fascination with brash, colourful ‘non-art’, and the edition he’s made for our Curated Editions collection, New Mythologies.

Suggested filters

spotlight Ele Pack’s new beginnings and emotion-filled abstracts

Upon the release of our latest collection with artist Ele pack, we caught up with her to discuss her recent relocation to Derbyshire, and the new direction of her work.

Suggested filters

spotlight Meet abstract landscape painter Claire Oxley

We sit down with her to to discuss her journey through music and colour

spotlight Meet Manchester light installation artist Liz West

We caught up with the celebrated artist to discuss her fascinating artistic practice and the newly-available limited-edition prints of her imaginative sculptural drawings.

spotlight Meet Scottish artist Ron Lawson

Learn about the inspiration behind his distinct monochrome landscapes and his new collection of prints.

spotlight La journée de la poterie á Vallauris, 1985

Translated from French as, ‘A special day of pottery in Vallauris, 11th August 1985; a big party’, this incredibly rare poster was created by French actor and artist Jean Marais. We take a look at how the field of ceramics and his relationship with Jean Cocteau influenced his design.

spotlight Exhibitions to see this spring

Discover our top picks, brought to you by many of our long-standing museum and art gallery partners including the Tate, Royal Academy and The National Gallery.

spotlight Meet Willie Christie

We catch up with photographer Willie Christie to discuss his remarkable career and his limited edition prints.

spotlight The rare Visual Aid charity silkscreen designed by 104 leading British artists

Join us as we delve deeper into the significance of the rare silkscreen print featuring original artwork tiles produced by rock stars of the British art world David Hockney, Frank Bowling, Howard Hodgkin, and Bridget Riley to name a few.  

spotlight Rare: David Hockney’s 1972 Threepenny Opera poster

This extremely rare promotional theatre poster was designed by the Bradford artist in 1972. Learn more about its creation and the subversive characters it depicts.

spotlight David Hockney’s collectible exhibition posters

Discover the collectible exhibition posters Hockney designed for Tate, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Opera and more.

spotlight ‘I love you so’, 1958, by Andy Warhol

Long before he created silkscreens of movie stars and soup cans that catapulted him onto the world stage, Warhol drew many whimsical illustrations for prestigious New York magazines. Learn more about his lesser-known but much-loved ‘I love you so’ artwork.

spotlight Picasso’s love affair with linocuts and lithography at Imprimerie Arnéra

When the famed Spanish artist moved from Paris to Provence in the 1940s, he met talented printmaker Hidalgo Arnéra. Together, they pushed the boundaries of the medium, turning it into a true art form.

spotlight Meet London artist and fashion designer Blue Farrier

We catch up with her to discuss her unique artistic practice and the new signed limited edition prints she’s produced with us.

spotlight Miró’s lithographic evolution at the acclaimed Atelier Mourlot

On Joan Miró's frequent visits to Paris in the 1930s, he developed a close friendship with master printmaker Fernand Mourlot, and became a permanent fixture at the world-renowned lithographic studio in Paris. 

Subscribe to our newsletter
Be the first to hear about our new collections, limited edition launches, and enjoy artist interviews.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.

Contact us: customer care
Email us
01273 511 942
Mon-Thurs, 9 am - 5 pm Fri 9 am - 2 pm

All art prints and images on this website are copyright protected and belong to their respective owners. All rights reserved.