Clara is new artist in residence at Rydal Mount

A new artist in residence has been appointed to work at William Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount next year.

Clara Li-Dunne is more familiar than most with Wordsworth, his life and work, and the beautiful house near Ambleside, having worked there as a guide for the past nine years.

Clara, originally from Hong Kong, has a degree in fine art and is a qualified teacher.

Her aim is to capture the romantic atmosphere at Rydal Mount’s house and garden where Wordsworth nurtured his poetic works and published a great many masterpieces. 

Clara became interested in ‘camera-less photography’ while studying for her BA (Hons) and MA in Fine Art in the 1990s, and was inspired to develop her current practice in painting.

‘I was always fascinated by how nature evolves in its own time; and also the unnoticeable mutation within nature,’ she says. ‘The creations of the images of abstract landscape were from my memories of colours and shapes while out walking, hiking or cycling.’

She uses pigment powders, graphite and sand to build up layers of the mediums like the formation in nature.  ‘A subtle change of the perspective caused by the refraction of light between the colours symbolises the mutation of nature. I also photograph shapes and forms created by natural light to create a new landscape.’

Most of her works are on Chinese Hsuan paper, with some on canvas. Earlier this year she made a wreath from flowers in the gardens at Rydal which was laid in poets’ corner at Westminster Abbey during a special anniversary service.

Clara follows in the footsteps of Helen Johnson, from Alston, who has been artist in residence at Rydal this year. A former head teacher who is now a full-time artist, Helen produced pieces of work on five themes which match the writing and ideas of Wordsworth: spirituality, family and relationships, emotions, nature, and excursions.

Rydal Mount gardener Helen Green captured at work in this portrait by previous artist in residence Helen Johnson

Curator at Rydal Mount Emily Heath said that Clara’s appointment was an exciting move for all involved. ‘We want to have the chance to celebrate Wordsworth’s 250th birthday next year after we had to cancel so many events to mark the occasion in this anniversary year. Clara’s art is really beautiful and she has some fascinating ideas. And of course, she is a true expert on Wordsworth and his work.’