• Visual Space

Get to know - Jennifer Smith, the founder of CloverMill Artist Residency


What’s your background?

After school I spent 1 year doing an art portfolio preparation course. From that I applied to Limerick School of Art and Design and was accepted into the painting programme. After receiving my Degree I actually stopped painting completely for about 8 years. During that time I travelled alot. I came to The Netheralnds in 2011 after meeting my husband in Australia. Those first few months I had a lot of time on my hands and I started to paint again in a small little shed at the bottom of the garden. I started internships in a couple of galleries in Rotterdam but I realised it wasnt what I wanted to do. In 2012 I made the decision to focus on my paintings and got my first studio.

How has your practice changed over time?

When I first stated painting again I was working with oil paint. I was also painting mostly birds and some horses. It took a few months before the figure emerged and eventaully took over. I stopped using oil paint when I got pregnant with my first daughter. That brought about the biggest change in my paintings. I realised that I much prefer working with acrylic. I am very impatient when I work and like to paint fast. Ink has also increasingly become a signature in my practise. In terms of style I would say it has continued to become more abstract and the ideas behind my paintings more evident.

The focus of your work is evidently the female nude. What’s integral to you whilst painting the female figure?

My paintings focus on the female gaze and also a vogerustic gaze. I approach these ideas in different ways. Sometimes the figures directly challenge, hold or confront these ideas. Other times they are more playful, scarastic or seductive. At times there is a direct abandonment of focus on a classical and traditional male gaze. I am also conscious of the representation of the female nude in art history and current representaions of beauty in contemporary society. My work is quite visceral and different emotions and personal experiences also move through the paintings.

You are the founder of CloverMill Artist Residency. Tell us more about this great initiative!

CloverMill works on the idea of collaboration. I really wanted to create a space with a focus on artists. A place to create work and a space to create exhibitions. Artists come and live and work here on the grounds of an old water windmill for a 2 week residency. We provide each artist with onsite private accomadation, 24 hour access to studio space and a Gallery space for an end of the residency exhibition. We also collaborate with curators and galleries. As an artist myself I know how expensive residencies can be. It is really important to me that we provide our residency free of charge. Lack of funding and cost of rental has stopped so many projects happening. I am so excited to see what kind of shows will be created without these financial limitations on artists and curators.

What is your dream project?

Right now Clovermill Artist Residency is my dream project. Unfortuantely it is very likley our first residency will have to be postponed due to Covid regualtions. I have had this idea of Clovermill for many years. Intially I was going to launch Clovermill last year but held off with the hope this year would be better. I feel like I have been waiting forever for it to happen so to finally get the first artists here would be a dream come true. .

What do you think is the future of art in an increasingly digitalised world?

Painting has long been declared dead and yet evidently it remains. I feel there is a place and space for everything. Social media and the digitalised world have made art much more accesible and connectable. It has been of huge significance getting through this pandemic. It has also shown the need for people to be able to go visit shows and see real exhibitions, so I believe we will still value that, much more than ever before. I do think that digital art will increasingly find its space . It will lead to a whole new art movement. I welcome that although it is not something for me.