Artworks and research by a textiles artist and academic from The Northern School of Art are being showcased at two major exhibitions in the next few months.

Claire Baker, who lectures at the Hartlepool campus on the School’s BA (Hons) Textiles & Surface Design degree and is also a practising embroidery artist, is staging a solo exhibition, ‘Place, Home, Loss and Legacy’, at Hartlepool Art Gallery and is also one of the artists featuring as part of Bowes Museum’s prestigious #Untitled10 2019 exhibition.

In ‘Place, Home, Loss and Legacy’, which runs from Saturday 28 September to Saturday 2 November at the town centre gallery, Claire is displaying a range of materials to provide a comprehensive insight, for the first time, into research she has carried out in the Chernobyl exclusion zone over the last five years.

Included are details of her work exploring the embroidery heritage of the rebel grandmas, the Babushkas of Chernobyl, a community of women that defied the authorities and continue to live inside the radioactive Dead Zone surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, in the Ukraine.

The display of textiles, photography and objects, includes textiles rescued from abandoned buildings in Chernobyl alongside Claire’s own embroidery created in response to her experiences, as well as portraits by Claire of the Babushkas represented as religious icons.

“They are an amazing group of women that I revere,” said Claire, who has travelled extensively in the region and has met and worked closely with the Babushkas on numerous occasions.

Claire has spoken about her work in Chernobyl at a number of events in the Ukraine and Russia and has recently also been invited to present her work at a conference in Siberia.

“The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is not really talked about in Russia so there is a lot of interest in my work,” Claire added.

As part of the #Untitled10 2019 exhibition, which will be on public display from 11 October 2019 until 28 February 2020 at Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, County Durham, Claire is also focusing on lost craftsmanship, memory and place with an emphasis on the traditional and historical influences of textile craft and the positive intervention of modern technology.

Her work will reflect the lace and embroidery in the Museum’s collection and she will be displaying pieces that have been inspired by the museum’s collection of vestments and textiles from the Poor Clares’ order, who left their convent in Darlington in 2007 after 150 years in the town.

“I’m paying homage to the lace-making skills illustrated by pieces in the nuns’ specialist archives and showing my appreciation of the artistry involved.” Claire added. “It’s something I could never do.”

Claire, who is from Stockton-on-Tees, is about to embark on a PhD archiving the lost textiles of Chernobyl, teaches at The Northern School of Art’s Hartlepool degree and masters level campus.

An alumna of the School herself, Claire has successfully managed to turn a lifelong passion for textiles into a thriving second career.

“I went back to study when my children were young and the travelling that my job entailed was no longer practical,” she explained.

Claire, had a successful career in the hospitality industry under her belt, including running a successful snooker club and being an assistant manager at a nightclub in Manchester, before heading back to education.

“My passion for what started out as a hobby grew,” she said. “Embroidery and textiles were something that I loved, I never intended to make a career out of it but here I am embarking on a doctorate with two exhibitions about to launch and a trip to Siberia on the cards!”

‘Place, Home, Loss and Legacy’ runs from Saturday 28 September to Saturday 2 November and entry is free. Hartlepool Art Gallery is in Church Square, TS24 7EQ and is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.

#Untitled10 2019 will open at The Bowes Museum, Newgate, Barnard Castle DL12 8NP on 11 October 2019 and run through until 28 February, 2020. Entry fees apply.

The Northern School of Art is the only specialist provider of creative courses in the North East with a rating of Gold in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework which means its students receive some of the highest quality teaching in the UK.

In 2019, the independent survey of student satisfaction, the National Student Satisfaction Survey (NSS), reported that 92% students were satisfied overall with their experience at the School, the highest score of all similar arts institutions across the UK and an increase from 90% in 2018, against a backdrop of a decline in student satisfaction in almost half of the UK’s universities and colleges.

To find out more about the School’s BA (Hons) in Textiles & Surface Design and the wide range of creative degree courses on offer visit or attend an Open Day to see the School’s facilities and speak to staff and students face to face.

The next Open Day at the Hartlepool campus for degree-level and masters’ courses takes place on Wednesday 23 October from 15:00 – 19:00. An Open Day for post 16 courses at the Middlesbrough campus is on Saturday 16 November 2019 between 10:00 – 14:00.

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