Clifford Rainey is a British artist whose work has been exhibited internationally for 35 years. Principally a sculptor who employs cast glass and drawing as primary methodologies, his work is interdisciplinary, incorporating a wide spectrum of materials and processes.
Born in 1984 in Northern Ireland in the near aftermath of the Second World War, Rainey was brought up to believe that there was such a thing as fighting for a just cause; that war itself, as demonstrated by Britain’s salvation, is honorable. His beliefs have been changed by both the battles he experienced at home— he was raised in Belfast at the time of the Troubles—and the chain of conflicts that connect his childhood years to the present. Korea, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia and Iraq—to name only a few— altered his sense of what war could accomplish, and the cost it exacted on those least able to pay the price. His series, War Boy embodies his conviction that peace has come through negotiation, not violence, to be lasting and meaningful.
Throughout his career,Rainey’s work has been characterized by a combination of wit, beauty and a profound mastery of materials and technique. For nearly three decades, his explorations of the figure— both in drawings and sculpture— have continued to be inventive and surprising.
Glass is a difficult material to master. Part of what is so extraordinary about Rainey’s graceful forms is that they make his use of glass seem straightforward and simple, if not inevitable. In the body of work that is the subject of this exhibition, his subject is the torso of a young boy of nine or ten. Truncated arms raised, this youth’s body turns subtly in one direction while his legs shift in another, creating a fluid but dynamic movement.
The series, “Boys” both reflects on a bygone era of innocence (only half a century ago) and casts a yearning glance backwards at the idealism of boyhood: the dreams children have of quelling their dreams, changing the world and achieving greatness. As much as the content of these pieces is autobiographical, it is also metaphorical in its intent to address issues Rainey has long found compelling. These include the bitter sadness of war, particularly conflict that comes out of religious difference; the artist’s concern for the environment and our role in its degradation, and magical importance of education.
Rainey is a passionate traveler and his work is full of references to the things he has seen and experienced. Celtic mythologies, classical Greek architecture, the blue of the Turkish Aegean, Globalization and the iconic American Coca-Cola bottle, the red of the African earth, and the human figure combined with cultural diversity all intermingle to provide sculptural imagery charged with emotion.
Rainey’s work has been exhibited internationally including: The Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Kunstmuseum in Dusseldorf, Germany, The Millennium Museum in Beijing, China, and the Museo de Arts Contemporaneo in Monterrey, Mexico.
His work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums including: The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, The DeYoung Museum, San Francisco, California, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Art and Design, New York, The Fine Arts Museum of Boston, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Canada.
He has realized a number of public art commissions including: The Lime Street Railway Station in Liverpool, England, the Jeddah Monument in Saudi Arabia, and the 911 Communication Center in San Francisco.
Rainey has always balanced his commitment to studio practice with his desire to share knowledge. He has lectured extensively around the world and was a lecturer at The Royal College of Art in London for 7 years. He is presently a Professor of Fine Art and Chair of the Glass Program at The California College of the Arts.
He is a recipient of the Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award, Chicago, and the 2009 UrbanGlass Outstanding Achievement Award, New York.
Clifford Rainey was born in Whitehead, County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1948. He received a Master of Arts degree from the Royal College of Art, London, 1973. He Currently resides in Napa, California, and is a member of the Chelsea Arts Club in London.
Information for this article was found online and has also taken information from an article by
Maria Porges, writer and artist living in Oakland, California.