Cliff studied BA Communication Design at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art, graduating first class with honours, before studying for a Masters in Print at the Royal College of Art, where he was the Tony Snowdon Scholar for 2018-2020. He also holds a BSc (Hons) in Economics and Politics from the University of Bristol. He is a previous winner of the Jill Todd Photo Award, and has been a finalist for both the Association of Photographers Award and the Aesthetica Art Prize. He has exhibited work at a variety of galleries including the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Streetlevel Photoworks in Glasgow, Southwark Park Galleries in London and Spike Island in Bristol. His practice is multi-disciplinary, taking in drawing, printmaking, photography, film and installation.
I like telling stories.
I like being from two cultures, but not really belonging to either. I like having my own experience of the immigrant story.
I worry the experiences I grew up with will disappear into history if I do not make them into stories. I like to release my stories into the world to challenge dominant notions of identity.
I made a series of prints based on my parents’ experience of immigration.
I like that stories are based on memory. I like to explore the unreliability of memory. I am sure the things we remember never existed in the way we think they did.
I like to think about the consequences of basing our identity on something so unreliable.
And on place.
I like to explore the relationship between memory and place.
I like to wander around the areas I now find myself in and compare them to ‘home’. Did the place I recall as ‘home’ ever really exist?
I like borrowing from others for my stories. If you have a split identity, you have to borrow to fill the gaps.
I like the directness of drawing as a way to get the stories out of my head. I worry that tradition is inclined to not consider drawings ‘proper’ art. I use printmaking to give them more ‘weight’.
I like photography. As with stories, you decide what to tell and what to leave out of the frame.
I like to consider whether photography is a friend or a foe to memory.
I worry I place too much emphasis on my stories. I worry this stops me fully engaging with the present.
And I wonder whether one day I can find a way to escape my stories altogether.
“To have a critical consciousness you must first have a sense of what you really are historically, although your history is a result of a huge jumble of traces left inside you.”
– Edward Said, paraphrasing Antonio Gramsci
“My work is my way of yelling to my ancestors and my past that I have not forgotten you; I have not forgotten you, I have not abandoned you and I am trying to find you.”
– Curtis Talwst Santiago
“what we are seeking … through our religious accumulation of personal accounts, documents, images and all the ‘visible signs of what used to be’, is what is different about us now; and ‘within the spectacle of this difference the sudden flash of an unfindable identity. No longer a genesis, but the deciphering of what we are in the light of what we are no longer’.”
– Marc Auge, quoting Pierre Nora
“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.”
– Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
“…I regularly set off to explore the outlying districts of the city… to walk through the empty Sunday streets taking hundreds of banlieu-photographs, as I called them, pictures which in their very emptiness, as I realised only later, reflected my orphaned frame of mind.”
– W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz
I am looking for collaboration and/or funding opportunities to continue to realise projects currently in development. If you are a gallery wishing to have a discussion, or if you have any suggestions for funding possibilities, please get in touch.
- MA Fine Art (Print), Royal College of Art, 2020
- BA Communication Design, Glasgow School of Art, 2014
- Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, Central St Martins College of Art and Design, 2010
- BSc Economics and Politics, University of Bristol, 2004
- Print Showcase, Royal College of Art, London (2019)
- Against the Grain, Southwark Park Galleries, London (2020)
- Hockney Gallery, London (2019)
- Test Space, Spike Island, Bristol (2016)
- Jill Todd Photographic Award, Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries (2015)
- AOP Photography Awards, London (2014)
- Open, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2014)
- Jill Todd Photographic Award, Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow (2014)
- Black Cube Collective Annual Show, Edinburgh (2014)
- GSAComDes14, Rochelle School, London (2014)
- Glasgow School of Art Degree Show, Glasgow (2014)
- Central Station Daily Showcase (2014)
- Filmpoem Film Festival, Dunbar (2013)
- Halfcut Student Film Festival, St Andrews (2013)
- Blisters: The Directors Cut, Print Club London (2012)
- Tony Snowdon Scholar, The Snowdon Trust (2018)
- One to Watch -Aesthetica Art Magazine: Future Now (2015)
- Finalist, Association of Photographers Award – Open Award Single Image (2015)
- Winner, The ‘Jill Todd Photographic Award’ Award (2014)
- Art and Craft Workshop Leader, Dementia Ward, Beech House Care Home, Thornbury (2017-2018)