Claire Milner’s visual vocabulary draws widely from many areas including classical literature, art history, fashion, science and the natural world. Working in collections with art historical references, her paintings simultaneously explore the role of the artist as a witness to her own time in history. Her experience in the advertising and design industry and study of Roman and Byzantine mosaics brings an added dimension towards informing her evolving collections, creating allegories of our time in a symbiosis of ancient and contemporary techniques. Prevalent themes focus on topical issues such as socio-political power disparities, migration, identity and the position of female artists in the canon of art history. Her special focus relates to the environment, our place within it and encroachment upon it, often juxtaposing abundance and loss. The effects of humanity are implicit within her paintings, even when the human figure is absent or takes a secondary precedence. The process involves traditional painting techniques combined with crystal mosaics involving rigorous methodologies rooted in the historical skills of an ancient art form, referencing portraiture and animals in mosaics dating back to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, yet vibrantly contemporary in a medium synonymous with high fashion and sustainable luxury.
After graduating, Claire Milner travelled extensively, in Australia, Africa and South America. These travels had a great impact as she witnessed firsthand the generosity of those who have the least in life. When Claire returned to the UK she was inspired to create ‘Mother and Child’ which was exhibited in Cambridge. During this time she was approached by the founder of CamFed, to create five similar artworks for the charity which helps fight poverty in Africa by educating and empowering girls. Claire subsequently worked as a graphic designer and illustrator in London; during this time she was commissioned by many large corporations and publishing companies. At the same time she began creating her own works and taking part in group exhibitions. Her interest in portraiture began when she was commissioned to illustrate portraits of British Chancellors Gordon Brown and Nigel Lawson, which in turn led to commissions of politicians, central European bankers and company CEOs such as Sir Terry Leahy, Sir Martin Sorrell and Lord Browne. She has researched portraiture in mosaics dating back to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras in a meticulous study of ancient techniques, and brings her wealth of experience working in the design and illustration industry as well as her extensive technical knowledge as a mosaic artist to achieve her own instantly recognisable style. Her large scale crystal mosaic portrait of Marilyn in 65,000 Swarovski Elements commissioned for, and in the private collection of Rihanna, was featured on the official website of The Estate of Marilyn Monroe and her work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Her portrait of Amy Winehouse appeared in an exhibition curated by the Amy Winehouse Foundation to mark what would have been the late singer's 30th birthday.
Claire Milner's artworks are held in private collections around the world. She has created art for environmentalists, conservation organisations, celebrities, large corporations and advertising agencies. Her work has been displayed in institutional and museum exhibitions in the UK including: Ripon Cathedral, York Minster, Corinium Museum, Canal Museum, Pontefract Museum, Museum in the Park, as well as installations in Harrods and Whiteley's. Her paintings have been featured internationally in the media including The BBC, BLOUIN ARTINFO, Channel News Asia, Elle, Forbes, Huffington Post Arts, Save Virunga, The Telegraph, The Times, Vogue Paris and many others and described as "metaphors of our time" in examining the effects of humans on each other and on other species.
Passionate about the environment and the threats facing endangered species, Claire’s work has raised thousands of pounds for conservation. In 2015 'Burning Bright' from the collection entitled 'True Value', created with 32,000 Swarovski crystals representing ten times the number of tigers left in the wild was exhibited at Hotel Café Royal, auctioned at The Savoy Hotel, London, and sold to an art collector in Germany in aid of Save Wild Tigers, The Born Free Foundation and The Environmental Investigation Agency. In 2016 Claire's crystal mosaic portrait of an elephant poaching victim was sold to a collector in New York in aid of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. In November 2017 Claire's painting entitled 'The Unknown' commissioned by actress and animal activist Virginia McKenna was auctioned in aid of the Born Free Foundation and sold to actress and activist Joanna Lumley.