Obscure Secure is a project initiated by artists Claudia Böse, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley. They started their collaborative work in 2012 initially to share ideas around process.
A meeting with curator Emma Roodhouse in 2013 gave the the three artists an opportunity to explore work made by women in the collection at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. A period of research culminated in an exhibition at the Wolsey Gallery, Christchurch Mansion (September 2014- January 2015) of twentieth century women artists alongside their own work made in response during the research process. A series of discussion events took place during the exhibition organised by the artists to open out, share and expand their thinking.
During the research for Obscure Secure at Christchurch Mansion they came across a reference to Mary Potter (1900-1981) and were all struck by her paintings and their relevance to contemporary painting practice. Although Potter had significant success during her lifetime and is represented in many national collections, she is lesser known now. This interest in Mary Potter developed to become Red Studio Enquiry, a research and development project (2014- 2018) in which the artists spent a month in residence (March-April 2017) in the former home and studio of Mary Potter followed by a symposium / discussion event in September 2017.
Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley are currently working on the archive of Kathleen Walne (1915-2011), an artist included in Ipswich Borough Council’s collection.
Claudia Böse constructs paintings through process, led by daily life and history. Decisions about when and how she uses paint are strongly guided by her empathy for work which has been created by other women painters. She has taught extensively in higher education and exhibits as part of Contemporary British Painting. She is currently the recipient of Something Useful Project’s residency at Gujarat University in India.
Hayley Field paints in response to observations, memories and events. Her work emerges through a prolonged process and considerable re-working, often surfacing isolated figures and shapes. Her collaborative practice has allowed her to share her interest in process through an exploration of other women artists practice. She has worked extensively in participatory arts.
Jacqueline Utley mostly makes small scale figurative paintings – her most recent paintings work with narrative and evolve from a multiple of references and sources these include , women’s lives, biographical, feminism, the everyday and non-hierarchal space. Alongside a practice based research enquiry looking at women painters and their lack of representation in art history.
The name Obscure Secure was taken from one of The Hawstead Panels at Christchurch Mansion, most available writing about the panels say they were probably painted by Lady Drury in 1610. The panel ‘Obscure Secure’ has an image of a bear in a cave with the text beneath it. We decided to use this title because the words and image resonated with working with collections, where work is often hidden but kept safe.