Ruth Claxton is an artist who sometimes makes sculptures, installations and drawings and sometimes makes projects, organisations and infrastructure which supports and centres artists.
Her large scale, site responsive installations and public sculptures often use reflective and mirrored surfaces to create complex, interconnecting visual worlds. Referencing display systems and architecture, and drawing on languages of art, craft, and design these works often consist of a series of evolving components that coalesce for a moment in a particular space and then move on. The relationship between object and surface, an exploration of hierarchies of display and attempts to choreograph and orchestrate ‘looking’ are key, alongside a general interest in the digital mediation of contemporary life. More recently she has been trying to make ‘fugitive’ objects, able to render themselves and ‘hold’ ‘support’ or ‘become’ surface, in an attempt to produce sculptures and installations that are activated by a viewer’s physical presence.
Her work has been presented nationally and internationally by galleries and projects including Ikon Gallery, Site Santa Fe, Spike Island, Whitechapel Gallery, Situations and the Guangzhou Triennial and she has work in the Arts Council Collection. She is a founding Director of Eastside Projects where she works alongside Gavin Wade to lead the organisation. She has been instrumental in the design and development of programmes including Extra Ordinary People and The Syllabus and has co-curated projects including Sculpture Show (2009), Achaintre, Barker, Channer (2012), Samara Scott: Silks (2015), Birmingham Show (2015), Production Show (2016-18) and mix rice: Migrating Flavours (2018).
In 2014 she initiated research that led to the Birmingham Production Space proposal (2015), which outlined an ambitious proposition for a new, large scale, national centre for the production of art and design. Many of these ideas have been realised through STEAMhouse, a new centre for cross sector, interdisciplinary collaborative and creative innovation, developed in partnership with Birmingham City University and funded by ERDF and Arts Council England, which opened in Birmingham in 2018. As STEAMhouse Creative Director she leads the Open Route which supports artists and other creative makers to test and make new work and develop their practice and career.