Cleary's practice is an investigation into the boundaries that exist between spatial entities. Involving an exploration of those entities in their ambiguous states, the in-between, on the threshold of transformation. She engages in a process-based practice that embraces common materials and textiles. Emphasis is placed on the creation of immersive spaces that recognize the importance of the viewer's role. A focus is placed on the in-between space and its relation to the viewer's experience of space as a real-time phenomenon. Cleary's work as a whole considers the physical environment in relation to the observer’s movement within it and she has a specific interest in the everyday space, in particular that of the domestic space. Her ongoing investigation into how the residue of a trauma can remain in a space long after that event has occurred is an important concept within her work. Cleary works with the belief that space has the ability to absorb events, traumatic or otherwise, and with each onslaught of such an event, that space is changed permanently. In particular her focus has been on the domestic space and the hidden traumas within. The domestic space holds a sinister subtext in her eyes. Cleary draws the viewer into her disturbing domestic circumference. She wants the viewer to assess the work and question the reasoning behind it. Her seemingly unconnected pieces act as a collective metaphor for trauma, the physical trauma itself has passed but the memory of it continues to persist.
Much of her work holds cinematic reference; her pieces become hybrid objects through their mish mash of domestic memoirs that transcends into the surrounding space. These pieces allude to an unresolved trauma and their filmic traits become indicative of the minds ability to create alternative realities that can be crucial to its survival. Her work often emulates a desire to break through and overcome the immediate environment. She puts forward the notion that the term ‘haunting’ may be an appropriate terminology to describe a traumatic event that occurred in a certain place on a certain date. The shock of that incident may leave behind a trace where ultimately that place where that disturbance primarily occurred becomes scarred and as a result absorbs that negative energy. The residue left by that damaging event begins to seep into the structure of that place, thus altering it to the extent where that space would now move forward in time transformed.
Discarded materials that already possess a recognizable function, and hold an alternative history have added an important element to her practice. Their transformation from humble origins into cinematic devices that frame space or suggest implied spaces exposes a tension that exists between the objects previous existence and its transformed state. Cleary's work aims to remove the traditional boundaries inherent in cinema by an expansion of the diegetic space beyond the screen, in the creation of alternative realities centered on the domestic space. By using the elements of cinema such as light, projection and sound to create works that re-frame the space, and in doing so, removes the boundary of the screen, allowing the viewer to become immersed in a domestic diegesis. Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky has been a large influence on Cleary's work. Tarkovsky had the ability to see beauty in the everyday and transform that into a cinematic experience. Tarkovsky’s aesthetic heightens viewer participation by drawing attention to the space beyond the screen.
Cleary's work is grounded in the theories of Henri Bergson, and his philosophy on the “virtual”, the movement between the present and the past, as the present becomes past. Her work recognizes the movement between Analogue and Digital technology, and the inevitable obsolescence that accompanies a fast paced society that continues to endure change and exist in a constant state of flux.
Other interests within her practice include our changing social environment where advancing technology emits heavy influence on our everyday lives. An ongoing concern between the everyday space and the online space emerges and the conflict between both serves as an inspiration in her work. Technology penetrates the very core of her work, inter-connectivity is important in not just bringing the physical pieces of work together but in its invitation to the viewer, in its objective to make the viewer an integral part of that environment. Ubiquitous technologies have ultimately inserted themselves into our everyday experience becoming almost invisible. Our changing social environment adapts to new technologies on an ongoing basis and this advancing technology emits heavy influence on our everyday lives. Cleary questions the current state of our everyday in reference to these technological changes, we must ask ourselves, are we as connected as we think or have we isolated ourselves within ourselves? The irony of which is in the past these technologies would have ensured a connection with the wider environment but today because of our complete reliance on technology we may have put in place a means to reproduce this isolation with the creation of a cyber solitary establishing a contemporary cultural withdrawal.
work to date empowers a move towards the next phase of her life. It is clear that her life and her artistic practice remain very much entwined and so far she has been unable to draw a distinction between them. In retrospect her work itself imparts more of an honest disclosure over any verbal statement that she has made on it to date.