Clare Iles

Collection d’Encombrants

Rue de la Motte, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue de la Motte, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue de la République, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue de la République, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue Marguerite Dutilloy, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue Marguerite Dutilloy, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue Madame Armand-Dupuis, Sacy-le-Petit

Rue Madame Armand Dupuis, Sacy-le-Petit

A Collection of “Encombrants”

Cardboard boxes full of out-of-date intimate secrets are piling up round the village… On top of one pile lies a fat fluffy frog with one eye hanging out and skin worn to shreds by too much dragging around, kissing and hugging. Piles squashed up against fences. Old empty fridges, chipped washbasins, eviscerated sofas. Pieces of intimate plumbing - now deserted and forlorn. Machines for washing our traces and eradicating impurities turned into leftovers to be disposed of.

Clare arrived in Sacy-le-Petit on the collecting day of “les encombrants” (bulky objects). Scraps, bits and pieces, rubbish .The once clean and neat village is now invaded by a huge mess. Usually, the quiet lanes are frozen in time. The houses don’t let their inner life show. The gates are closed. Not a movement breaks the silence. Today, gates are opening. Belongings are tipped out on to the pavement. Clare is discovering a past of private domestic interiors dumped on the public domain. A couch and a coffee table lying next to each other recreate a cosy little world in the open air.

“Encombrant” means encumbering. Because of the size or maybe the weight? Not only that. The sentimental value of these objects has to be re-assessed before they are allowed to sink into oblivion. How to get rid of what encumbers you? How to dispose of things we lived with, which were the extensions of our body, when they too have a memory, a meaning and a story? Clare has infiltrated this process of parting with things. A gift from someone? Off to the fleamarket? Or into the bin? The way you get rid of something is significant: the act seals the farewell and reveals the extent of the intimacy with the object as well as with the would-be rescuer.

Clare asks herself questions about our over-consuming society, while ferreting about among its leftovers. Puzzled by this strange habit of exposing one’s privacy on the streets, the artist from Essex intervenes in the ritual. She arranges the objects in situ. She erects ephemeral sculptures which are caught by the camera’s eye. This is intuitive recycling. Clare plays with form and colour to give these leftovers a fresh artistic value. The inhabitants rush out to put the “disturbed” objects back in place. The mess is meticulous. The tidiness is thought out. Though close to the walls of houses, the arrangement of things symbolises transition. The performance reveals their value. The squeaky clean shelf is telling us about its secret wish for a new life.

These worthless scraps make space and time their own and favour exchanges from display to display, house to house. The gleaners collect affection and memories. The cart - an image from the past - becomes a font. As they are placed in it, handled and assessed, the things come back to life. The cart carries them to a new home. Clare -a foreigner- has been adopted by adopting the habits and the objects. A man remembers the cart which once belonged to Gaillard, the Château’s former gardener. He invites her to his house to look at his own handmade cart. The carts become the outside connection between two interiors. The scraps ride through the village and move into their new abode at the Château. The studio is in the barn, a waiting and cooling room for memories. Clare is working on her finds. She arranges them, piles them up and paints them in colours one step removed from reality. She is sculpting a new cart in a house to which objects from an earlier château were transferred 200 years ago.

Encumbrance, disposal, reallocation. These words are not only about objects but about those objects’ effect on us. It isn’t so much the things themselves but what they know of us that Clare explores.

Previous Work

Clare Iles
Bowden Street

Back of Snooker Club
Bowden Street, Sheffield, 2003

Hodgson Street

Delivery Entrance
Hodgson Street, Sheffield, 2003

Clare Iles E-mail Selected Exhibitions

Collection d’Encombrants

, Château de Sacy, Sacy-Le-Petit, France Cuckoo farm, Colchester

Salthouse 04, crossing the line

, North Norfolk Firstsite @the minories art gallery, Colchester - Developing ideas of the


; Assembling objects outside and attaching / fixing them to take them into the gallery space. The cut, Maltings, Halesworth, Suffolk - Exhibiting digital images and assembled objects.
S1 Artspace - Alternative action plan temporary public art for the Devonshire quarter, Sheffield - sculpture / digital images were created with discarded objects found within the industrial Devonshire quarter and then exhibited on the warehouse panelling by printing on adhesive vinyl.
Harlow Library, Essex -

A Shanty Street stall

. This included images from Harlow, other places in Essex and outside Essex. This is part of Artfresh that is collaboration between Firstsite and Essex county council; it is also a touring exhibition of work from 12 artists Essex libraries throughout the year and consists of 12 artists. Each artist has a solo exhibition in an Essex Library. East International, Norwich Gallery - Digital images created by assembling discarded objects found within Norwich housing estates. This formed an installation of a

shanty street stall

. I won part of the East award (an encouragement award) of £1000.


, Stroud House Gallery - Five Digital images of assembled discarded objects at lay-bys, housing estates, gasworks, by railway lines, by a skip and a house.


, Essex County Council and Firstsite @ Minories art gallery, Colchester - Touring exhibition of 12 artists work to libraries in Essex. At each library I created an image/s from within that area.

Over the river

, Wolsey art gallery, Christchurch mansions, Ipswich and Firstsite @ Minories art gallery, Colchester - Exhibited digital images.

East Anglian Open

, Norwich arts centre, Norwich - Exhibited 6 digital images. Artists’ Workshops
Firstsite @ Minories art gallery - Workshops created in response to my exhibition of the “market”.
Sanctuary Housing association, Ipswich - The aim was to create workshops for children from the council estates using the discarded objects around. St.Joseph, St. Albans, Charsfield, Beaconhill Schools in Ipswich Colchester Institute, Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex - I gave a talk to fine art degree students on how I am surviving as an artist
Little Grove Field, Hare Street primary school, Harlow - Nine-hour workshop with a group of six aged nine. Firstsite gallery, Colchester - I created a workshop for 8 -11 year olds during the exhibition

Over the river

. Miscellaneous
Green Island Garden, Colchester, Essex - Studio and creating work to exhibit in woodland area whilst garden is open to the public.
Artist in Residence at St. Josephs School sponsored by St. Joseph’s school and BT.
Mistley Maltings, Manningtree, Essex. Essex County Council - Commissioned to create an artwork a 30ft keep net in the malting exhibition area as part of its redevelopment that is seen from the road and station. Residencies
Château de Sacy, Sacy-le-Petit, France
St. Joseph’s School, Ipswich Education & Awards
MA Fine Art, Norwich School of Art and Design
1st BA Hons Art & Design, specialising Fine Art, Colchester Art College
BA Studio Art and History of Art, APU, Cambridge. 1 yr.
British Council Travel Award
Arts Council of England Grant
East award £1000
AHRB bursary award for full-time MA studies