Gone Astray by Clare Strand

Clare Strand’s (b 1973) Gone Astray project is described on her own website (link below). The project (in two parts) was a part of the output from a year-long residency at the The London University Of The Arts (2002/3).

Strand explains her inspiration for the project:

The title of the series is taken from a Charles Dickens text, Gone Astray 1853 which is an account of a young child lost in the City of London. A story filled of references to anxiety and vulnerability and to people leading double lives.

source: clarestrand.co.uk
source: clarestrand.co.uk

The two parts of the project are portraits and details. Portraits show people who appear to have been pulled from the street in everyday clothes, but photographed against a traditional C19th painted mural thatwould have been used for street portraits. The subjects are posed as if they are going about their daily business, some showing signs of anxiety referenced by the title. The subjects’ gaze is not engaged with the photographer, mostly looking down or away. When viewing the photographs, this creates a visual irony; care has been taken to set up a traditional painted mural, against which subjects would traditionally be carefully posed. However, Strand’s subjects are portrayed as disinterested in the photographer.

The second part of the project, Details, shows (as its title suggests) details. This time they are photographed outside the studio, on the street using a harsh flashlight to highlight the details. The ambient light is closed down, keeping the backgrounds to the details shadowing and dark. Our eyes are drawn to the details, highlighted in the chiaroscuro.

source: clarestrand.co.uk
source: clarestrand.co.uk

For my own practice, the two main aspects of interest in Strand’s work are the visual irony created by the mismatch of background and subjects in portraits and the use of flash to highlight details and cut ambient light in details.


Clare Strand [website]. Gone Astray. Available from: http://www.clarestrand.co.uk/works/?id=100 [accessed 2.9.16]

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