Monday, 14 September 2020

Two Small Paintings

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I find it creatively refreshing to flit between different artistic mediums every so often. So whilst I was waiting for the resin to dry on the latest sculpture that I'm working on, I thought I'd have a break and do a couple of small oil paintings.


'Bow Tie Man Crying', 2020, small oil painting by Wayne Chisnall

As you can see, they're quite different. The first one is more of a quick, cartoonish oil sketch, that I did to get myself back into the flow of painting again.

The second one, which I've titled 'The Monster' is painted over an earlier painting - one that had turned out unsuccessful because, at the time, I'd probably been too tired or lacked enough enthusiasm to put any real effort into it. I call it 'The Monster' because I've recently re-read Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', and whilst painting it I was trying to envisage a version of the monster that didn't resemble the iconic one that Boris Karloff played in James Whale's 1931 classic horror movie, 'Frankenstein'.


'The Monster', 2020, small oil painting by Wayne Chisnall

On the whole I don't have a favourite colour, but when it comes to oil painting, I do love a bit of red.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

'Unlockdown' at University Centre, Telford

The first piece from the 'Unlockdown' art collaboration project between myself and ceramics artist, Sharon Griffin, is now on display at the UniversityCentre, on the 3rd floor of Telford Town Centre's Southwater One building. 


Sculpture from 'Unlockdown' art collaboration, exhibited at University Centre, Telford

Sharon and I plan to create a body of work that we can exhibit/tour around the country. We've already had our sculptural work accepted for a prestigious exhibition that will be taking place next year - details of which we should be able to reveal next month.

Sharon Griffin with sculpture from 'Unlockdown' art collaboration

As Sharon and myself are both Shropshire-born artists, who use a lot of locally sourced materials in our work, we thought that we'd have our series of Unlockdown exhibitions kick off in Shropshire. The University Centre is the first venue but we're already looking at other spaces in the area in which to exhibit.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Small Paintings Update

Back in mid-January of this year I came up with the idea of setting myself the ridiculously ambitious challenge of trying to paint 1000 small oil paintings in a year. My initial thoughts behind the project were that I'd knock out a load of quick oil sketches as a way or generating a few new ideas and trying out different painting techniques. Although the majority of the paintings didn't turn out to be quite as quick or sketchy as I'd initially intended, I was, for the first few weeks, still on schedule for my target.


'Hollow Dog Warrior', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

However, I soon realised how all-consuming a twelve month painting challenge of this scale would be, and that putting that amount of pressure on myself would take a lot of the fun out of painting. Also, it wouldn't allow me any free time for working on my sculptural projects - and I've always found that taking a break from one medium and switching to another for a while keeps me motivated and helps generate new ideas.


'Meaty Hair', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

Around a hundred paintings into the challenge I switched over to sculpture, with the intention of switching back after a month or two. However, it was around this time that I was invited by the ceramics artist, Sharon Griffin, to collaborate with her on a sculpture project (which we have named Unlockdown). And it is this project that has taken up most of my free time over the last few months - so much so that I've just realised that I only got round to posting photos from the first half of the hundred paintings that I produced. So here are a few more from the second half of the, as yet to be continued, series - and I'll try and remember to post more photos over the coming weeks.


'Schrodinger's Match', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

Apart from two or three, all of the paintings in this 2020 series are painted directly to the painting's surface with brush and oil paint, rather than being penciled in beforehand. I really like the immediacy of this approach. You can often end up with a piece that has a vibrancy that you might not have got if you were being more considered and calculated.

'Wide Mouthed Hollow Dog', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

The mini oil paintings/oil sketches that I've produced so far are mostly painted on small, wall mountable, plywood or chipboard plaques (recycled form pieces of  Victoria and Albert Museum packing crates), or on old book covers and recycled pieces of primed mount board (recycled from the V&A museum's Paper Conservation Department and from their Picture Framing Dept.).


'Clown Nipple', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

I've already sold some of the pieces from this new series. Apart from works in my Taster Menu series I don't usually sell original artwork for less than £500 but as some of these pieces are very small and quickly executed I've put up a few for as low as £200. For info on the prices and dimensions of any of the mini oil paintings I'm currently posting about please feel free to get in contact ( Some of my collectors prefer to pay in monthly instalments, so that's always an option if you're interested. To see all of the paintings in the project, as I paint them, check out my Instagram page.


'Hollow Dog Carcass', oil on board by UK artist, Wayne Chisnall

I'm also taking part in the Artist Support Pledge on Instagram (where any of my posts that have #artistsupportpledge in the text will be offering artwork for £200 or under). The initiative was set up by the artist, Matthew Burrows, and now has hundreds, if not thousands of artists taking part. Check out the pledge as there are some great artists involved (and surprisingly, some reasonably well known up-and-coming names in the artist world) - all offering prints and original artwork for £200 and under. So now is the time to pick up some art bargains.


Here's what Matthew has to say about the initiative:

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many artists have found themselves without work, teaching, technical support and gallery work. Exhibitions and sales have disappeared. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this stress I have instigated the ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE #artistsupportpledge The concept is a simple one. Artists post images of their work, on Instigram which they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping). Anyone can buy the work. Every time an artist reaches £1000 of sales, they pledge to spend £200 on another artist/s work.

To make a pledge, post your work with the #artistsupportpledge and follow the # to see everyone else's work. Keep updated on new opportunities and announcements @artistsupportpledge Repost and tell your friends, colleagues and collectors. Let generosity be infectious."

Sunday, 9 August 2020

'Meet Your Maker' - BBC Shropshire Radio Interview

Last week (3rd Aug. 2020) I had the pleasure of being interviewed by DJ, Jim Hawkins, for the 'Meet Your maker' feature, on his BBC Shropshire Radio mid-morning show. I will admit that I was initially a little apprehensive about chatting live on radio, but Jim's engaging interview style made it a relaxing and fun experience. 

'Meet Your Maker' is a regular feature on the show where Jim interviews artists and makers who are based in Shropshire, and asks them about their practice. To hear the actual interview you can click here and scroll along to the 2 hour, 8 minutes, 30 second mark (2:08:30).

Czech animator, Jan Svankmajer
Czech artist, film-maker and stop-frame animator, Jan Svankmajer

The interview lasted about 20 minutes and in it we talked about lots of things - including my relocation from London back to Shropshire, some of my influences (one of them being the Czech animator, Jan Švankmajer), the changes to London's creative scenes, my switching from being primarily a painter and printmaker, to a sculptor, and the life-size sculpture ('And When I'm a Man, I'll Think As a Man') of myself as a giant Airfix-style model kit

Life-size model kit sculpture, 'And When I'm a Man, I'll Think As a Man', and artist (for scale), Wayne Chisnall

We also discussed my unlikely, and brief, foray into script writing, when I wrote a script (via a Sony scriptwriting competition) with the American actor, John Malkovich - which was turned into the animated short film, 'Snow Angel'


I also took the opportunity to mention my current collaboration project with local artist, Sharon Griffin - although I forgot to mention the name of our project, which is 'Unlokdown'. Sharon and I have just created an Instagram page for the project - although, at the moment there isn't much on it, but I assure you that we'll add to it as the work grows. 


Artist, Wayne Chisnall, in his Shropshire workshop, working on a piece from the 'Unlockdown' collaboration


One of my artworks that Jim brought up on the show was a piece called 'Evil Masked Zombie Pebble' which was one of the wall-mountable wooden plaques (actually there are a few versions, but in different colours) that I created for a pop-up event at the A Plus A Gallery, that was on during the 2015 Venice Biennale. The event was one of artist flea markets attached to American artist, Rob Pruitt - although, in typical style, I forgot Rob Pruitt's name when I was chatting on Jim's show. 

'Evil Masked Zombie Pebble (red)', acrylic on plywood wall plaque, created for 2015 Venice Biennale event by artist, Wayne Chisnall

Thursday, 30 July 2020

From Leaving London To Lockdown Collaboration

Below is the newly published article that I wrote for Artquest.

To deliberately misquote Groove Armada, “Goodbye Nightclub, Hello Country”. Back in my 30s, I thought London and I would be married for life. But then as the years progressed, our relationship became more strained, and suddenly we began talking about our D.I.V.O.R.C.E.


Four years ago, I finally made the tough decision to leave the capital and after a 17-year stint living in London, I relocated my studio practice back to my home county of Shropshire. As much as I still love London, and try to get back at least once a month to see friends and get my culture fix (although obviously the pandemic has put pay to that for now), a sufficient number of small factors had mounted up to the extent that I clearly had to re-evaluate my situation. One of the reasons was that after 15 years of working as a technician at the Victoria  & Albert Museum (it's amazing how many artists and musicians work as museum technicians), a substantial amount of my colleagues had moved on, so sadly the atmosphere of a fun working environment had changed. However, as is probably the main gripe of most current London-based artists, I found that the glut of affordable art studios had long since disappeared, and this was my main reason for relocating.

'Orifice Tower' by British artist, Wayne Chisnall

When I first moved to London's East End there were plenty of large, cheap, although definitely not luxurious, spaces for artists to take over. I spent many eventful years living and making art in old shops and warehouses (which brings me to my big tip for any artist wanting to make work while still getting a decent night's sleep – never share a warehouse with three unemployed DJs). But that was a long time ago. Now, with the gentrification of the East End, an ever increasing number of hipsters moving into the area (willing to pay exorbitant rents), and developers knocking down artists' studio spaces and putting up high-end apartment blocks in their place, any studio spaces that artists are now able to find tend to be either too small, extortionately priced, and/or not fit for purpose.


When I left Shropshire in the mid-nineties I didn't think that I'd ever move back, but surprisingly it's worked out well for my art practice. I now live alone (for the first time in my life – and I'm loving the freedom it affords me) in a very ordinary-looking house in a small semi-rural town. I use the house itself as a live/work space with bedrooms converted into studios and the garage, conservatories, and sheds serve as workshops and storage areas. And having a garden allows me the luxury of space to work on messier or larger scale sculptures whenever I need to. Also, living in the Midlands, with a nearby train station, affords me reasonable access to pretty much anywhere in the country. Being a sculptor whose main medium is found materials, I'm a bit of a hoarder (anyone who knows me would laugh at the term 'a bit of'), so when I first moved back to Shropshire I turned to Ebay as a way of reducing my 'hoard'. It turned out that this, coupled with a few hours a week working as a carer for a disabled friend, proved enough to pay the bills and allowed me a lot more time to concentrate on making art than when I'd been living in London.


As the practice of being an artist involves long periods of solitary work, I have found, as I'm sure many other artists have, that lockdown hasn't affected my daily routine that greatly. While it would be lovely to still occasionally meet up with friends in person and have greater travel freedom, I've now embraced the benefits of online social interaction in a way that I probably wouldn't have if the coronavirus hadn't struck. Before the pandemic I'd never even heard of Zoom. Now I use it to chat with other artists and friends, join online social gatherings, and have even been interviewed by the head of a college art and design so that his students can start a project based upon my work.


Now through a mixture of online social interaction and carefully maintained social distancing, I am engaged in an exciting new art collaboration project called 'Unlockdown'. This started around month or two ago when I was approached by the talented and prolific artist, Sharon Griffin (@sharongriffinart on Instagram), about us collaborating on a sculptural project together. After hearing her proposal I immediately said yes. Before we physically started on the project we had one of those lovely, several hours-long, joyfully meandering conversations about creativity and the themes that influence our work – themes such as identity, memory, growth, containment, the resonance of found materials, the self... all the usual good stuff. Even though the project is still in its infancy, some of the elements of our initial conversation have already bled into what we have produced so far.


'Unlockdown' (piece No. 1), art collaboration between artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall

Although not exactly an ‘exquisite corpse’ in its truest form, 'Unlockdown' does share some of the same elements. What we have undertaken is to produce a series of experimental sculptures whereby Sharon kicks off the creation of each new sculpture by giving me a clay bust of a relatively androgynous-looking figure, taken from a plaster cast mould that she made from her original sculpture. I then alter the bust in some way, before returning it to Sharon. She then performs her alchemy by applying some of her glazes (created from her own recipes, using locally sourced geological ingredients – apparently the variety of geological conditions in Shropshire are unmatched within the British Isles or, within such a relatively small area, probably anywhere else in the world), and fires the piece. Following that, she hands the piece back to me for next stage, in which I integrate it with other manipulated materials.


I will say that at each stage of the handover, we are observing the correct and responsible levels of social distancing that these COVID-19 times demand.


Even though the starting point for each piece in the collaboration, i.e. a clay bust, is close to identical, every time Sharon hands it over to me she doesn't know what it's going to look like when I give it her back. And likewise, I don't know what it's going to look like after the glazing and firing process (and any other alterations that Sharon might have made pre-firing). This is one of the many exciting elements of the collaborative process. Another is the verbal interaction. I had forgotten just how exciting it could be to talk to another artist about art – and how two creative minds can both feed off and boost one another.


Although Sharon works predominantly in clay and I work in... well, pretty much anything I can get my grubby hands on, we have a lot of things in common – a love of nature and the earth, and of manipulating materials. We share many similar views, we're both from the same part of Shropshire, and both have similarly odd family backgrounds. Luckily we also have enough temperamental differences to hopefully keep one another in check and to be able to maintain a balanced view of the project.


'Is Margaret Free' (the exchange), collaboartion project between artists, Wayne Chisnall & Calum F Kerr

I'm very excited to see where our collaboration takes us. This is only the second time that I've collaborated with another artist. The other time was a 12-year-long project with the performance artist, Calum F. Kerr. Calum and I have yet to exhibit anything from our collaboration but, considering our joint enthusiasm for 'Unlockdown' and Sharon's exuberant drive, I'm pretty sure that the fruits of this collaboration will not have to wait too long to find a viewing public. We're already applying for a stand at next year's Collect art fair at Somerset House, and are looking into crowdfunding so that we can afford to pitch the project to even more open calls and fairs. We view our collaboration as an ongoing project that will develop alongside our individual practices, and we'll just let the body of work within 'Unlockdown' keep growing until it finds its own path.


This work by Wayne Chisnall and first published on Artquest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Burning Crosses & Crucifying Birds

In preparation for some upcoming sculptures I've been doing some small experimental pieces so that I can test out the visual effects of various combinations of resin, hair and fire on wood. 
Burnt Cross Test Pieces/Maquettes, 2020, by artist, Wayne Chisnall

I had started off the test procedure by building small wooden frame structures to work from but soon realised that this was too time consuming and unnecessary so instead opted for simple cross structures.

'Crucified Bird' (Burnt Cross Test Piece/Maquette), 2020, by artist, Wayne Chisnall

This proved a much better option as I was able to knock-up (the English, as opposed to the American, usage of the phrase) loads of test structures and try out a wider variety of hair and resin mixtures - as well as other materials, as is evident with the 'Crucified Bird' piece. I will state at this point, that I never kill animals for use in my artwork. The bird in this piece was a gift from a neighbour's cat, and well and truly dead before it go to me.

Burnt Cross Test Pieces/Maquettes, 2020, by artist, Wayne Chisnall

Because of the rather toxic fumes and smoke given off by the burning of resin, I conducted my experiments outdoors, in my garden - all the time, trying not to dwell on the rather negative connotations of burning crosses in gardens.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

'Unlockdown' Collaboration, Piece 1 (Completed)

A tad more complex than I'd originally intended; this first piece in the collaboration project (now titled 'Unlockdown') between myself and the talented artist, Sharon Griffin, is finally complete. Whilst documenting the sculpture I was surprised at how drastically its outline changed when photographed from different viewpoints. So here are a few pics of it, from those different viewpoints.

1st sculpture from 2020 collaboration project between British artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall

My earlier posts about our collaboration cover the nature of the project and how it works. I was tempted to simply cut and paste in those details from an earlier post about our project but as I'd already done that at least once before I thought it best not to, to keep from going over old ground. If you are interested however, please feel free to check out any of my earlier Collaboration posts.

1st sculpture from 2020 collaboration project between British artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall

Throughout many of the project discussions that Sharon and I had, one of the themes that kept coming up concerned the notion of 'the self'. I don't know if it was with this in mind, or whether I just started reading more into the work as it developed, but I came to view the piece's external framework (and internal to an extent, as the oak battens penetrate the body of the central ceramic figure, locking it in place) as a form of cage. This provoked me to consider the potential loss or imprisonment of the self, through the cages that we build around ourselves; similar to how we conform to, and are restricted by, the stories of our own lives. Stories we tell ourselves and stories told about us.

1st sculpture (detail) from 2020 collaboration project between British artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall

1st sculpture from 2020 collaboration project between British artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall

One of the things I love about art (more so with sculpture) is the slow reveal of extra layers of meaning that frequently occurs during the creation process. I never truly know if these ideas are always unconsciously there, or whether it's a meaning that I impose upon the work because of the way its developing, and the visual suggestions it presents. Either way, the ideas and notions that are thrown up often go on to inform further work and future lines of enquiry.  

1st sculpture from 2020 collaboration project between British artists, Sharon Griffin & Wayne Chisnall