Claire McGinlay; Photographed by Laura Edith Roxby, 2019
Claire McGinlay, Photographed by Laura Edith Roxby, 2019

“It’s interesting that the final idea in your head is never what you actually produce.”


Claire Carden McGinlay




Claire Mcginlay; Photographed by Laura Edith Roxby; 2019
Claire Mcginlay, Photographed by Laura Edith Roxby, 2019

Who are you? What do you do?

I’m Claire Mcginlay; 25; and graduated from Glasgow School of Art last year. It’s taken so much experimentation and working through crazy bouts of self-doubt to realise my style. But, I explore the uncanny dynamics between the social and physical urban landscape. I use this context to then explore the relationship between painting and photography with reference to medium specificity.

Where are you from?

Glasgow; Scotland

Your Style in 3 words?

Raw, Industrial, Uncanny

Your Weakness? Your Strength?

Overthinking everything. Too many ideas, always wanting to do everything at once. I’ve been told I’m really empathetic; I love chatting to people and hearing their story.

Claire McGinlay, Reflection, 2018
Claire McGinlay, Reflection, 2018

What makes you different?

I’ve started focussing on current issues that I feel aren’t being covered to the extent they should be in the media. I’d say that’s what I’m passionate about – just how we live our lives, our social landscape. I suppose that’s what makes my work different.

When did you decide to become an artist?

It really scares me how easily this could not have been my life. I never had the confidence in school to think I could be an artist or even apply to art school. I was just a bit of an invisible student. Not the best but not the worst at anything. I remember people being really shocked that I was going for it. I would get “Really? You?” a lot. And they were right, I had never really shown any academic interest in art. But I loved photography! So, I suppose that’s where it started. Then one day something just clicked, and I understood how to draw and paint. I just, for some strange reason, could see my approach to drawing and painting from a whole new perspective. Then my art teacher convinced me to apply to a portfolio course. And I am so grateful to that art department for seeing that small talent and giving me the confidence to apply.

Claire McGinlay; Southblock; 2018
Claire McGinlay, Southblock, 2018

What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?

I find it funny that every new body of work I make now, I always go through the same spiral of emotions. The beginning is full of excitement and endless possibility; then I fall into the hole of self-doubt, no confidence and wanting to bin everything ever made. But I’ve done it so many times now that I can recognise these feelings and I know I just have to put my head down and take everything a small step at a time. Then, finally things start to take shape, and I wonder what all the stress and fuss was for. I can be such a drama queen in that developing stage – but it teaches you to have a sense of humour. It’s interesting that the final idea in your head is never what you actually produce. The creative process holds so much power to the final work. I also read once that the first three hours of a painting are always the hardest. That’s really helped me out. At the start of a new painting things never go smoothly for me, and it’s always good to keep this in the back of my mind and just push through.

A few words about your favourite creation

I made this series of screen-prints looking at the uncanny relationship between objects, identity and domestic spaces. My work tends to be really raw in terms of material, I don’t tend to use much colour. But these screen prints are so vibrant and strange – they’re just very pleasing to look at. So, visually they’re my favourite.

Claire McGinlay; High Rise; 2018
Claire McGinlay, High Rise, 2018

Someone else’s work who inspire you

Justin Mortimer and Wendelin Wohlgemuth’s painting style really inspires my work just now. I seen Wohlgemuth’s new solo show in Paris in November and was really intrigued by his wet and loose application of the paint. I find both they’re approaches to utilising photography as a primary source to their paintings so striking. And they both work with such vivid and lucid imagery I always have that itch to paint after looking at their work.

A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on

I’m dying to get started on a new story I discovered last year. It focuses on an abuse scandal that effected a huge amount of children in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland during the 60’s to late 80’s. I want to create 2 paintings in the style of theatre backdrops. I’ve become really interested in theatre studies and its power of storytelling.

More Important the Career Is

Having a laugh with friends and family.

Claire McGinlay, Uncanny Domestic Space, 2018
Claire McGinlay, Uncanny Domestic Space, 2018

2019: Where are We Going

I’ve just landed a pretty big commission in Glasgow so I’ll be working on that for the next six months. I was in Marseille at the end of last year looking at the relationship between Scotland and Marseille’s post-industrial landscape. I feel like this was a real turning point in my approach to painting and photography. So, I’d really like to take this year to just develop and refine my style and technique.

When the going gets tough


“Put your brain in your lunchbox and go to work”

– just don’t overthink, power through and get the job done. Or Walk away – do something else for a bit and come back to it with a fresh head. Oh, and talk to people, get help and advice, vent all that frustration out.

Your City’s Favourite Spots

Shawlands and Strathbungo are my favourite spots in Glasgow just now. Glad Café is my favourite place to chill and get some work done, always great comedy events and live music on. There’s so much going on in the Southside, especially with events like Southside Fringe coming up in May. Favourite gallery is Tramway. A little biased seeing as I done my portfolio here but I have such an affection to the place. Always great exhibitions on, and workshops for more interaction into the ideas surrounding the works. They put a real emphasis on highlighting Glasgow as a leading cultural city in Scotland.

Do you have a vision?

I suppose just to keep my art work relevant to issues surrounding the urban social landscape.

What would you do if you could change the world

Slow down life’s pace. It’s so easy to have a chip on your shoulder. But I’d just like to make people realise it doesn’t take much to be happy. It’s more effort to hold a grudge and be jealous of other people’s success than to just be a nice guy and get on with your life. So, yeah, I’d just force people to find that healthy balance between work and play. And, just have a sense of humour, don’t take life too seriously.

Tell us about your future plans.

I definitely want to do my masters in a few years. But want to make sure I really know my own style and who I am as an artist before I apply. So, I’m taking a few years to really refine my context and approach to painting – hopefully do a few residencies too. I have a few short stories I’m bursting to write as well. But I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. One thing at a time.

Favourite Song

Cosmo Sheldrake – Egg and Soldiers