Clare Lyons (b.1993) is a visual artist and photographer working between Dublin and Belfast, currently pursuing an MFA in Photography at Belfast School of Art in Ulster University. Clare’s practice finds its concern in the tactile nature of the photographic image. Emphasising the materiality of the photograph, she often explores themes of memory, trauma and her personal struggles with mental illness. Her research includes topics such as emotional trauma and the resulting repression and suppression of memory, and more recently the significance in revisiting the family archive in establishing one’s sense of self in the face of such experiences. Visually, she typically takes the photographic image away from its original form in an attempt to tease out these difficult topics. Clare is a 2019-2020 recipient of the Universities Ireland North/South Postgraduate Scholarship, and since 2021 has been a studio artist at the Emerging Artist Hub in Flax Art Studios, Belfast.
every saturday the child must go, removed from one life and placed into another.
a forced relationship and a feigned connection.
there are only trees here: the bleak forested landscapes of the housing estates they walked, the only
witnesses to this time.
no recreation and minimal ef ort.
the rest of the week, living as someone else. someone longing for another’s name.
a welcome relationship and true connection. the one eventually chosen.
for years, using hands to make sense of what happened. talking and making, attempting to heal,
attempting to understand. the link between craft and catharsis grew deeply ingrained and entangled
and then one day, a conversation. the abscission, the severance.
just like that, leaving one life behind, but forever haunted.
Every Saturday (1993-present)
The work to date looks at the relationship I had with my biological father, in light of the discovery
that I have two Birth Certificates on file in the Irish Civil Registry System.
Using ephemera from the landscapes where we spent time together, on court ordered Saturdays for the
first ten years of my life, I create new documents and assemblages which demonstrate the desire to
regain control; over my own sense of self, and over a time when I felt I had none. This childlike
crafting reflects cathartic processes introduced to me from an early age through therapy and
counselling, processes of working through trauma by creating and making.
Along with this, I have revisited my family archive. In these documents, the other half of my life is
recorded. My family and I. My mother and I. My Dad and I. While this archive is completely devoid
of any trace of my biological father’s physical presence, and my own memory incapable of recalling
his form, I have unearthed visual clues and triggers in the photographs which allude to his haunting
presence in my life. Through this reflective process of revisiting and re-appropriating both
photographs and documents, I weave a narrative that finally speaks for this little girl, my younger self,
who was desperate to align herself with one identity, one family, and one Dad.
Despite being born out of what has felt like unresolved trauma and a sense of conflicting identities,
the project has in many ways become a celebration. Not only of my own personal resilience in the
face of my experiences but also of the Dad I chose and the love he had for me which has never