Leon Clowes

Leon Clowes, ‘nesting’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop
Leon Clowes, ‘nesting’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop
Leon Clowes, ‘nesting’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop

nesting (2023)

Installation with moving image and assorted ephemera, 9min 51secs

“In healing and of hurting, I repress because I repeat, and forget because I repeat, as, when days of future past are present, it is secrets that make us sick. Shame only dies on exposure.”

Through confessional actions of self-compassion, Clowes’ current expressive preoccupations are small live performances, explorations of recorded acoustic instruments and slowly unfolding still life as moving image. 

Building on recent autoethnographic performances hosted at Cafe Oto, London and Contact, Manchester, nesting is a continuation of Leon Clowes transdisciplinary praxis, comprising documentation of a repeated performance and related ephemera. The soundtrack accompanying the piece is composed by Clowes through a radical editing process creating new sound worlds arising from the artist’s piano improvisations with violinist Louise Walters. 

In nesting, the hand is the actor of love and violence – it inflicts and yet is also tender in its touch. Through the motif of continual bandage wrapping, the work connotes the spiralling out of control during active addiction and the perpetually revolving and evolving process of becoming. nesting serves to remind us that the work of recovery never finishes.


Violin by Louise Walters

Filming and art direction by Zack Mennell

Props, camera, and site courtesy of Greta Sharp

Leon Clowes is an older disabled white working-class queer transdisciplinary artist navigating lived grief and loss in self-compassionate ways. 

Their first remerging work (‘Nan Kids’ at SPILL, Deptford X and Wandsworth arts festivals, 2021-22) was featured on BBC1 news and resulted in a BBC Sounds podcast, foregrounding the hidden his/her-stories of people raised in kinship care. 

Leon’s recent transdisciplinary artworks have featured in, and been commissioned by, Frieze Art Fair, Cafe Oto, Queer Art Projects, Disability Arts Online, Margate Pride/Crate, Squish Rotterdam, Queer Contemporaries, Datscha Radio Berlin, Britten Pears Arts and Exploding Cinema. 

Leon won a scholarship for PhD study at London College of Music conducting research into his self-compassionate autoethnographic trauma-inspired performance practice. Together with their supervisor Dr Cathy Sloan, and working curatorially with international groups and artists, Leon is using lived experience to help establish the national Addiction Recovery Arts Network.