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Annabel Blue

Claire Barrow , Xtreme Sports Mud 1, 2018


By Annabel Blue

Claire Barrow has become a pillar of London’s creative community over the last decade. After debuting her designs at London Fashion Week in 2012, Barrow went on to successfully launch Xtreme Sports, a subsidiary to her eponymous label that crossed over her art practice and love of design. Following this, she went on to diversify her practice, working with musicians to the likes of Bladee, and commercial clients including Marc Jacobs. Barrow’s focus now rests predominantly with her personal art practice, honing in on painting and sculpture as a means for deeper creative expression.

Overarching ideas within Barrow's art navigate themes of queer sex, rave culture, youthful boredom and dreams. Discussing her sub-label Xtreme Sports, Barrow tells me where it all began. “I started doing the collections as a way of casting a satirical eye on the fashion streetwear trend, using ‘sports’ loosely as I made things like thongs, earrings and bags as well as hoodies and caps.”

The shift away from fashion was an intuitive move for Barrow. “What feels right, right now, is to explore what I’m capable of as an artist, rather than worrying about producing clothes,” she says, “I have [a lot] of ideas I want to execute and am really into painting and making different things at the moment.”

Left: Claire barrow, Paintings on Card, 4; Right: Claire Barrow, Paintings on Card, 2

Barrow’s exhibition Pipe (2022), is an attempt to map out the dream world she’s been visiting since her childhood. “I grew up on a standard housing estate in the North East of England, in a town called Yarm. There’s a big pylon next to our house, outside my bedroom window, humming loudly when it rains and dominating the sky.” Often in her dreams, the same streets, shopping centres, and trains appear regularly. Pipe, Barrow says, was strongly inspired by a recurring lucid dream, “I got it into my head this pylon was the reason I was lucid dreaming all the time as a teenager and perhaps a source of power to expand my imagination.”

The idea for her exhibition Pipe came to her over the course of a few years. “I came up with Pipe so that the eye can travel around, to see if any of it makes sense or relates to real life in some way.” She elaborates, “The 90s pastel toy colours are used as a way of showing it’s a synthetic space where only imagination and play is concerned.”

Barrow has a series of projects in the works that we can look forward to seeing this year. “I have a self-published book of drawings coming out soon,” She adds, “I have a group show in Berlin coming up and I have done print design for Heaven by Marc Jacobs, with two collections coming out this year.” One of her current focuses, however, is working on her new digital space, “A 3D fantasy art gallery where you can navigate your way around the rooms [that] are themed for each project,” she shares.

After meeting Barrow, it’s clear to me that though her works feel subjective and otherworldly, they remain innately human and universal in their makeup. With visual allusions of inner desires, anxiety and dreams—Barrow draws her audience in with a sense of deep connection and human transcendence.


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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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