Sunday, 22 March 2015

Secret Revealed (RCA Secret 2015)

As this year's RCA Secret has now been and gone, it's safe to reveal which pieces were mine. Although, to anyone who's familiar with my recent work, or drawing styles in general, it probably wasn't too difficult to spot my entries.

This year I submitted 3D postcards; as I've often done in previous RCA Secrets. This time they were in the form of hand-made plywood boxes, covered in black ink line drawings.

The drawings are based upon the ones that I made for my current on-going sculpture/drawing, 'Tattooed Tumour Box'.

All the drawings are a mixture of objects and bits of random materials (that I collect for potential use in my sculptures), morphed together with forms that I just make up.

These first three postcards are the ones that appeared in the London RCA Secret show, whilst the fourth one appeared in the RCA Secret Dubai.

Here, to give an all round view, I've Photoshopped together the five illustrated sides of one of the four postcards.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

RCA Secret – London and Dubai

Seeming to come round faster and faster every year, this year's RCA Secret (or to give it its more recent, sponsorship name - 'Stewarts Law RCA Secret') is almost upon us.

For anyone who doesn't know what the RCA Secret is, it's basically an annual exhibition of postcard-sized artworks, the sales of which, go to help support students of the Royal College of Art in London, UK. What's the 'secret' part of it I hear you ask... well, I was just about to get to that. The postcards all get displayed anonymously at the RCA's Battersea exhibition space in the Dyson Building (and on-line), then go on sale nine days later; and it's only after the postcards have been sold that the identity of the responsible artists (sorry, that sounds a bit like an oxymoron – maybe I should have said 'artists responsible') are revealed. Or just click here for the official description of what the show's all about, and how to register to buy.

I've exhibited work in the RCA Secret's annual postcard exhibitions for over ten years (I think – not quite sure when I first entered), and most years I've done something a little different from the previous year's submissions. Sometimes I do drawings, sometimes I'll show paintings, and occasionally I submit 3D work. As it's a secret I'm not even allowed to give a clue as to what this year's work might be (heaven forbid that I should reveal anything before the 21st March), so here's some images of my postcards from previous RCA Secrets.

Most years I make three postcard-sized works for the show but this year I've made an extra piece as RCA Secret is going international, with RCA Secret Dubai. As well as going to the College’s Scholarship Fund, helping talented students at formative stages in their careers, sales from this second RCA Secret show (which runs from 18th to 21st March) will also contribute to establishing and running RCA courses in Dubai, which will in turn nurture emerging local Dubai talent.

Back here in London, the RCA Secret exhibition opens to the public on the 12th March, with the sale itself taking place on Saturday 21st March (8am-6pm). If you want to guarantee getting at least one of your top twenty postcards then I suggest getting in the queue very early (some hardcore souls start queueing the night, or days, before the doors open for the sale) or win one of the first fifty places in the queue via the RCA Secret raffle.

Royal College of Art, Battersea
Dyson Building, 1 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN

Exhibition 12–20 March, 11am–6pm
Late opening Thursday 19 March until 9pm
Sale Saturday 21 March, 8am–6pm (exhibition closed to visitors)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Emerging UK Artists You Should Know

I'd like to thank journalist, Holly Howe (@Hollytorious) for including me in her article, Emerging UK Artists You Should Know.

Of the other artists in the Complex article, it's great to see so many I know personally. The featured artists are - this year's Turner Prize winner, Duncan Campbell - painter/scribbler, Stephen Anthony Davids (who's gallery, F-Art, I once exhibited in) - painter/sculptor, Jonathan Paul Davies (who I affectionately call Begbie, after an accidental bottle throwing incident at a private view in a Fitzrovia gallery) - photographer, Nigel Grimmer - printmaker/Victorian image splicing wizard, Dan Hillier, who's work you'll probably recognise from the cover of Royal Blood’s Mercury-nominated and No.1 début album – street art/fine art crossover, Steve More - fine art photographer, Suzanne Moxhay - painter, Al Saralis - and finally, the mysterious graffiti artist, Stik.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

New Money

I'm not normally one for New Year's resolutions but there are a few projects that I want to get started on in 2015 so maybe cracking on with them can be my NYR. One of them is an idea that I've had for a while, and that's the creation of my own currency – well, sort of...

What I would like to do is produce a large edition of double-side prints in the form of a banknote, but to my own design, and my own currency – the 'Chig' (taken from the nickname that I've had since childhood).

So far I've looked into existing currency for a bit of inspiration, and instead of launching straight into my own design I've decided to play around with what's already out there in order to get a better feel for the medium. As you can see, I've had a bit of fun painting on currency left over from some of my previous trips abroad. To see more of my customised currency check out my Oodles of Doodles blog.

In order for me to get this project off the ground there are a few challenges that need to be met – some of which I've already started looking into. As well as signing and numbering each note individually I'd like to get them produced to as high a standard as possible, so that they have an authentic banknote feel. This would involve more than one printing technique (with one employing a raised ink), watermarks, metal thread, possibly holograms, and all printed on the same cotton/linen paper that banknotes are traditionally printed on. And it's this last one that looks like being the biggest stumbling block. Unless you happen to be one of the few organisations in the world that actually prints money legally, then getting hold of the right kind of paper looks to be next to impossible.

I've spoken to a friend who is probably the top artist book binder working today, and she told me that she knows of a few people who still have the right sort of paper but they are book binders who just happen to have small quantities left over from decades ago, when it was still just about publicly available. The obvious reason that it's so hard to get hold of is that it would be very useful to counterfeiters – which led me onto a particular line of enquiry that nearly got me into trouble, and probably on a watched list. I went onto what can only be described as a forgery forum and ended up chatting to some very obvious law enforcement people, posing as counterfeiters looking to recruit gullible young, would-be counterfeiters. Needless to say, the experience wasn't particularly fruitful, although I did learn some interesting facts about the most successful counterfeiting techniques – the details of which are probably best not shared.

An important part of this project is realising my own limitations. As my computer graphic skills are pretty poor I think it best that I find a talented graphic artist with the ability to translate my drawings into the intricate background line work needed to give the final images their banknote-like look. So if you know of anyone out there that might be interested, get in touch.

Then we come to the all important element of the project – funding! One area that I'm considering is crowd funding, although this seems to be a bit of a mine field in itself. If I do go down this route then a friend, horror film-maker, Andy 'Zombie' Edwards, has kindly offered to shoot the promotional video for it, but even so, raising awareness of the project is probably as big a task as the project itself.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blast From The Past

Rummaging through some half-forgotten boxes that I had in storage I recently came across one of my old sketchbooks from twenty years ago. I opened it with some trepidation, fearing that what I'd find inside might be a bit cringe-worthy, but I was relieved to see that some of the pages weren't too bad. Here's a few examples of what I found. To see more check out the latest posting on my Oodles of Doodles blog – a blog that I've shamefully neglected of late.

These first two are of Lisa Kelly; still a very close friend, even after all these years of knowing me.

Here are a couple of drawings of details from a wire maquette, Pelvis, that I made for a sculpture that never came to be.

 And who hasn't crucified their Action Man doll at least once? No... just me then? Right!... moving on...

To mark my brief foray into stone carving we have a scrappy painting/working drawing for my take on the theme of 'Mother and Child', followed by a photo of the resultant carving.

Regarding the next three pages, I think that I had a thing for puppets and body bags.

Next we have something a little more traditional - a life drawing!

And we end with something light and fluffy – a drawing of a stuffed toy monkey.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

My 'Complex' Interview

Here's the article written by journalist, Holly Howe, who recently interviewed me for Complex.

Interview: Sculptor Wayne Chisnall Discusses His New Exhibition, "Dreams of Being Batman".

Tentacle Touch Teddy by Wayne Chisnall

If you walk through the graffiti-filled archways under Waterloo Station in London, you’ll find the Vaults Gallery, home to a new exhibition of Wayne Chisnall’s work. Titled "Dreams of Being Batman," the show features over 30 works from the British artist, ranging from sculptures from the late '90s to new assemblages made for this show.

Born in Shropshire, UK in 1968, Wayne started his art career illustrating gaming magazines, before moving into the world of fine art. His work has been exhibited at the Royal British Society of Sculptors and the V&A Museum as well as in galleries around the world and has appeared on television shows including BBC 2's The Culture Show, Channel 4 News, and Channel 4 Four Rooms. He has also been known to do the odd bit of design work, most recently for the interior of the new Ping Pong restaurant in Wembley, London.

We sat down with Wayne to ask him about his art, his inspiration, and how he ended up working with John Malkovich.

Dreams of Being Batman by Wayne Chisnall

Where does the title of the exhibition come from?
"Dreams of Being Batman" is taken from the title of one of my earliest sculptures (above). It had to do with childhood perceptions of adulthood. I was focusing on childhood hero figures. In dreams things aren’t quite what they seem, hence the head and the horns aren’t quite a Batman head but a dream version of it.

And it’s your head in the work?
It’s sort of a self-portrait, and Batman was one of my favorite superheroes, but with most of my sculptures, there’s never just one meaning. Also I was the only one stupid enough to sit still to have my head cast. I nearly lost my own ears as it was really difficult to remove the cast when it set.
The show has a mix of sculpture and painting, which do you prefer?

I enjoy both, but I probably prefer sculpture. I had been an illustrator previously, but when I moved into sculpture almost 20 years ago, everything seemed to click. It was as if I found my true voice.

You seem to use an assortment of really weird materials. Where do you find them?
Everywhere! I find things on the street or in skips [dumpsters]. I always keep an eye out for unusual materials wherever I go. I’m often spied down the back streets with a big bag over my shoulder.

Baby Kit by Wayne Chisnall
Baby kit (above) reminds me of the model kits that were around when I was a child, but none of them looked like that!
Yeah, when you look at it you eventually realize that all the pieces don’t make up a whole doll, which references an anomaly I noticed in some children’s dolls. In some, the individual body parts might actually be based upon elements of a child from different age ranges with even a few adult proportions thrown in.

Of course, you don’t just work as an artist. Tell us about your script with John Malkovich?
There was a script writing competition where John Malkovich wrote the opening scenes and was looking for a follow-on script, and he chose mine. What I wasn’t expecting was that it then got turned into a short animated film, which was great as a lot of my work is influenced by animation and film.

"Dreams of Being Batman" runs until Nov. 29 in London's Vault Gallery.

Book Tower II (Nostalgia For a Childhood That Wasn't Mine) by Wayne Chisnall

Toy Tower by Wayne Chisnall
The City (remains) and Crutch And Tumour Box by Wayne Chisnall
Orifice Tower by Wayne Chisnall
At Any Time by Wayne Chisnall

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

London Live feature on 'Dreams of Being Batman'

On the afternoon of/prior to the opening night (not sure that that makes grammatical sense but I'm guessing that you get my meaning) of my current solo show, Dreams of Being Batman, I was filmed by London Live, and asked questions about the work that I'm exhibiting. Click here for the resulting two minute feature – fortunately not as cringeworthy as I was dreading. 

Take a peak into Frankenstein's Orifice Box

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tattooed Tumour Box – Progress Report #2

I must admit that as I missed finishing Tattooed Tumour Box in time for submission for this year's Jerwood Drawing Prize (and now have nearly a year to get it ready for next year's open), and have been occupied with completing new work for my current solo show, Dreams of Being Batman, progress on TTB has slowed down somewhat.

However, here's the most recently 'tattooed' section of the semi-assembled structure, along with the original drawing that I came up with for said section. As I mentioned in the previous progress report, all the drawings are based upon found objects and materials that I've been collecting for potential use in my sculptures. Even though I have a pretty vast collection of material oddities it still takes me a long time to sift through it all and select pieces that I think will work well together in a drawing. Obviously I take a bit of artistic licence with the sketches (altering scale, and morphing elements here and there, or just plain make stuff up) but I like to keep a lot of the elements proportionally accurate.

To prove that I haven't forgotten TTB, here's a new piece, 'At Any Time', that I finished just in time to get framed-up and exhibited in my current show. As you can see, it's based upon the drawing above, and is painted on a sign that I found in the street. Yes, I did really find the sign in the street (among a pile of rubbish from someone's flat clearance, by the look of it), and not screwed to a sign post.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Cool Hunting's Article

Here's an article about my current exhibition, published in Cool Hunting, and written by the charming Cajsa Carlson, whom I met on the opening night of the show.

Wayne Chisnall: Dreams of Being Batman

Found materials, superheroes and more in the sculptor's new London exhibition 


by Cajsa Carlson in Culture on 10 November 2014



Newly minted London exhibition space The Vaults Gallery is located deep in the underground tunnels below the gigantic Waterloo Station. To enter, pass the skateboarders and street artists tagging the walls of Leake Street, also known as The Tunnel, an authorized graffiti area started by iconic street artist Banksy in 2008. The gallery itself can be found on one side of the colorful, chaotic underpass, below a sign stating “Art & ting.” This subterranean space is the perfect location for artist Wayne Chisnall’s exhibition “Dreams of Being Batman." We caught up with the artist about his darkly humorous work inspired by “disrupted home life, macabre literature, comics, film, animation and organic and geometric forms.”

Among the pieces on show is the eponymous “Dreams of Being Batman," a sculpture of the Dark Knight's mask with elongated ears. Much of Chisnall’s work draws on childhood perceptions about adulthood, and Batman was his favorite hero growing up. “I made the sculpture white and floating for it to be dreamlike and ephemeral—it has to do with memory and how fallible it is,” Chisnall says. “Childhood fears, passions and experiences can shape the people we become in adulthood and a lot of the themes in my work hark back to these early influences.”


Another standout piece is the Nail Box, made from found wood and nails, including two nails from London landmark St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the artist worked on a project. After spending four years collecting the nails, Chisnall then waxed them all individually to give the piece a coherent look. A majority of Chisnall’s sculptures, like Book Tower II (a literal tower of books), are made from repurposed materials, many from the Victoria & Albert Museum where he works part-time as a museum technician. These materials have started to find their way into Chisnall's 2D work as well. His latest work “The Koople," for example, is a naked couple (with tentacle-like limbs) painted on a door found in a dumpster outside Chisnall’s studio.

DreamsOfBeingBatman-02a.jpg DreamsOfBeingBatman-02b.jpg

“There's something authentic about found materials. There's a history to them; evident through aging or signs of wear. I also enjoy working with forms and objects that people are already familiar with, or can identify with," Chisnall tells CH. "That way, when I cut something up and rework it into something new, I'm playing with something that is already loaded with meaning. It's like taking a well-known quote and restructuring it so that it says something new, or reverses the original sentiment.”


The underground space and Chisnall’s sometimes macabre, fun sculptures, such as a pillar of hair on wheels, combine to create a slightly uncanny yet humorous exhibition that encapsulates the uncertain space between childhood and adult life.

“Dreams of Being Batman” is on view through 29 November 2014 at The Vaults Gallery.

Images by Cajsa Carlson

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Remember, Remember, The 5th of November.

As this year's Bonfire Night falls mid-week, and most of the firework displays will be on Friday or Saturday night, I'd like to offer you an alternative 5th November evening event.

In a fortunate instance of synchronicity I've been offered a solo show at a gallery space that I've enviously had my eye on since it opened, earlier this year. The venue is The Vaults Gallery, beneath Waterloo Station. It's the latest addition to the atmospheric, 30,000 sqft, underground, multi-disciplinary art space that is The Vaults - which I previously knew of through the amazing interactive theatre and art events that have been hosted there.

The exhibition, Dreams of Being Batman (title taken from one of the sculptures in the show - see image below), runs from 6 - 29 November, and in it I'll be exhibiting a selection of new and earlier work; sculptures, paintings, prints, and drawings. If you'd like to have a sneak peek before the public opening then please join us on Wednesday 5th November, from 6-9pm, for the private view. Feel free to bring along friends, and to pass on this invite to anyone that you think might be interested in coming along.

Click here for maps and directions.


Here's the gallery description of the show:

Dreams of Being Batman draws together the artist’s recurring investigations into childhood, memory, and containment with the inevitability of decay. 

Chisnall's assemblages evoke a dreamlike melancholia that at times borders on the nightmarish. Visitors are invited to peer inside the artist's box sculptures, each a type of Wunderkammer, inhabited by familiar and forgotten curiosities. One is prompted to reflect upon the tensions between man's natural desire for mobility and his growing urge to possess that arise in an increasingly capitalist driven society. 

Dreams of Being Batman presents a selection of works, some raw and intensely textural, others kitsch and unnervingly creepy. 

The exhibition will feature Chisnall's celebrated assemblage installations alongside lesser seen works on paper. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Adam and Eve it...

October has proved to be another hectic month, art-wise. And I'm not just talking about all the art fairs, satellite shows, and art parties that made up Frieze Week – probably the busiest week in the London art calender. No, aside from all of the arty frivolities that one feels obliged to join in with (oh... what a hard life), I've been offered a solo show at The Vaults Gallery under Waterloo Station (opening night - Wednesday 5th November, 6-9pm), which I'm busily preparing for, and I've just got back from a six day trip to Moscow where I've been installing the Jameel Prize exhibition at the New Manege.

Like many artists, I also work part-time for one of the big art institutions. In my case it's as an art handler/technician for the Victoria and Albert Museum here in London. One of the perks of working for the VandA is that I not only get to handle some of the world's greatest artworks and treasures, but I'm also able to work on the installs and de-installs of the museum's international touring exhibitions.

Luckily, on my last day in Moscow, I managed to find a few hours to go exploring the city's art galleries and amazing architecture. Here's a photo of me crossing the Moskva River with the stunning Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in the background.

Now that I'm back in London I'm busily assembling everything ready for my own show, Dreams of Being Batman (taken from the title of one of my early sculptures). This includes finishing off new work, getting it framed, packing everything ready for transport, and collecting pieces that have been on loan to various galleries and companies. Yesterday I popped down to Brighton to collect my Planetoid 210 sculpture from Henri Gomez of Dynamite Gallery (look out for the gallery's re-launch at a new venue in January). 'Planetoid 210' is the poster-boy my new show, so it seemed pretty important that I definitely got him back in time. The exhibition will be a selection of new and old work; sculptures, paintings, prints, and drawings.

One of the pieces that I've just finished in time for inclusion in the show is a painting called 'The Koople'. It's based upon a couple, Margarita and Osage, who appeared in a video interview by the nudist activist, Gypsy Taub. I don't know if it was because of the vulnerability of the couple's nudity but I was quite taken with their sincerity and openness, as if the act of removing clothes had also stripped away any conversational pretence.

In my painting of the couple I've modified their arms and turned them into tentacles – an element that crops up in much of my work. Maybe it was a mixture of the nudity and the garden setting but when I watched the video I thought of Adam and Eve. So when I came to doing my contemporary take on humanity's 'mum and dad', instead of adding a serpent to the picture I allowed their altered arms to take on the role of the metaphor for original sin.

As you can see in the photos, I'm still working with found materials; the same sort of found materials that I often use in my sculptures. In this case I've painted on one of the doors that I rescued from the skip outside my last studio.

As is often the way when making art, you'll get part way through the process and hit a point where you have to make a decision to either stop, carry on on the path that you originally intended, or take the work in a different direction. This image of the unfinished painting shows the point (before I added the black line-work) at which I was tempted to stop, purely because I liked the simplicity of the image – where there's just enough elements for the viewer to work out what it is. But then I reasoned that I can simply paint another version later, without the black line-work. Maybe it could even work as a screen print.

Invite to Dreams of Being Batman exhibition.