Leon Clowes United Kingdom
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I am an older queer working class transdisciplinary artist in recovery. Exploration of lived trauma is at the core of my practice.

Placing lived family, queer and abuse-based traumatic experience in the heart of my work, I seek exchange and interaction with the participant-voyeur-audience. I'm aiming to find humanity in horror, humour in the mundane, and joy in melancholy.

Through 'Nan Kids' I've started developing 'Nan-terventions' which is a performative exploration of social mores. Following Brechtian principles, it's a 'showing what needs to be shown' as shame dies on exposure.

My practice uses uncomfortable expositions of my own sexual and alcoholic transgressions, schizophrenics channelling my absent father, and blunt explanations about my horrifying conception. By doing this I'm seeking connection and conversation, it's a neediness and vulnerability that is seeking appeasement. And I'm not out to shock; it is to be open, to encourage discussion, and seek resolution.

I'm told constantly by people who have experienced my artworks that I am brave and courageous, and I am humbled and warmed by this.

So I use whatever the means is to tell the message. It is often story, and I wonder if I could try calling myself a conceptual storyteller, it seems to fit.

My recent projects are:

- 'SECRETS: The Last Five Days Of Sandra' is a multi-form (installation, performance, spoken word, audio, book) piece in collaboration with actor Andrea Edwards, photographer Kelly O'Brien and sound designer Gerry O'Brien. By exploring the reveal of my father's identity at my mother's deathbed, the aim is to explore the shock and non-linearity of familial traumatic incidence. This work was commissioned by Britten Pears Arts and developed through a Snape Residency via PRS Foundation for New Music funding.

- 'Nan Kids' is a series of audio sound-word portraits of people raised in kinship care, and a performance installation that takes place in any given setting, so far, galleries, cafes, bars, a church garden and university classroom. Through the contrast domestic rural craft actions as difficult real life stories are heard, audiences have told me of the hypnotic fascination of the work demonstrates a cognitive dissonance at play.

- 'Recovery: the shadows & the light' is a collaboration visual exhibition with Emma B. Hewitt, as we explore our individual sides of our personal restorative journeys, sharing our spiritual and emotional paths. My pieces explore mindfulness through watercolour captures of angel feathers; documentation of an ongoing walking arts practice, and 'sites of shame' reflecting on alcohol and drug induced moments of personal inventory.

Projects and exhibitions


Nan Kids

09/07/2021 — ongoing

NAN KIDS is a series of socially engaged performance installations (‘Nan-terventions’). It opens a book of hidden life stories of people, like myself, who had to be raised in kinship care families.

Framed in an ‘cosy’ grandparent living room assembled over the residency, these ‘sound-word portraits’ of trauma invite exchange...

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Deptford X and SPILL, Lewisham, Greenwich and Ipswich Details
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