Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Yesterday saw D. Dominick Lombardi's article, Repurposing With a Passion, appear in the Arts and Culture section of the Pulitzer Prize winning, digital media enterprise, the Huffington Post. The article is about recycled materials in art, and in it Lombardi asks a number of artists from around the world these four questions -
1. What sorts of materials do you recycle in your art, and where do you find them?
2. What specific incident or realization, if any, brought you to incorporate discarded materials in the making of your art?
3. What message do you hope to send to the viewers of your art in terms of esthetics and ecology?
4. Do you have a political or philosophical agenda?
Below is the section of the article that features my response to the questions asked, but to see the full article click here.
From his studio in London, England, Wayne Chisnall creates art that references such things as structure, time and Modernism as they pass through a very contemporary mindset that focuses on humor, transience, functionality and futility. There is also the presence of popular culture in his thinking, as he addresses the differences between reality and perception, and how that affects the needs, wants and even the formation of the human psyche.
Mr. Chisnall's responses:
"Although I have used plastic toys (which I collected from regular visits to car-boot sales, long before I knew what I was going to do with them) in one of my sculptures I am normally drawn to materials that I feel have a certain 'resonance'. These are usually organic materials that have either interacted in some way with the environment or with people. The materials vary according to the individual project but I generally use anything from wood, metal, glass, human hair, insects to bones and teeth."
"As I prefer to use existing materials as opposed to freshly manufactured ones I tend to find my materials from all around me. This can become a slight problem however as I have a tendency to hoard more stuff than I will ever use."
"The rusty nails and screws that I used to complete my Nail Box sculpture where mostly just picked up off the ground and collected over a four year period. Although most of the nails were found here in London, a good portion of them were also collected whilst I was travelling round Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Europe, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Mexico and the US. A couple of them even came from inside the dome of Saint Paul's Cathedral, when I was working there on a project."
"One of the most abundant sources of materials for me over the last decade has been the skip where I work. I'm fortunate enough to work part-time at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and with it being the biggest, if not the oldest, design museum in the world it produces an interesting array of waste materials (old and new)."
"The work of animators such as the Brothers Quay and Jan Švankmajer inspires me. As a child I grew up in awe of their dark animated short films and was hypnotized by the way in which they imbued tatty old bits of detritus with life. I don't know if this is where I gained my love of old things or if it just reaffirmed my passion for them, but either way, when I moved from 2D to 3D and started employing the use of found materials in my work, I felt that I was finally being true to myself as an artist."
"Through my art, I hope to show that there's a richness and beauty to be found in old and used objects that isn't evident in newly manufactured goods. By using materials that already show signs of their own personal histories I hope to build narratives where much of the story telling is already in place. Used objects tend to have an evident patina which we can all comprehend and by building with ready-loaded materials we can communicate with the viewer at an already engaged level."
Monday, 7 July 2014
As you can see from this recent photos from my studio, my tattooed Tumour Box sculpture is progressing nicely. Most of the additional box sections have already been constructed (unless I deceide to let the piece grow totally out of control) but until I come up with the rest of the requisite drawings and transpose them to the sculpture's, now multifaceted, surface I can't actually start gluing any of the parts together.
First I have to construct every section, work out how it will all eventually fit together, come up with a separate drawing for each section (working out how each drawing will flow over the various planes and fit in with all the drawings covering the rest of the piece), transfer each drawing to its relevant section, and only then will I get to the fun bit of sticking it all together.
One of the difficulties of constructing the individual sections in the first place is that until the sections that go before them are actually glued in place to the main body of the sculpture, it's hard to work out the dimensions for these later sections. But I suppose that the challenge is part of the fun - at least it keeps the grey matter ticking.
Saturday, 28 June 2014
I'm a firm believer in achieving that which I'm told 'is not possible'. My latest achievement (and even I was having doubts about this one) was the finding of a cheap, spacious, artists studio in East London. Not only in East London, but a three minute walk from my flat in Bethnal Green. Sweet!
Nowadays I usually manage to hang onto a studio space for about 12 months before receiving the notice to quite. With the building itself will usually have quite existing two to three months later. But this time I'm hoping that I've managed to break that cycle. My new work space is built under a railway arch, with actual trains running overhead. So little chance of the developers getting their grubby mitts on this space (although if they can, I'm sure that they will).
As you can see from this photo, on the desk front, I'm with Albert Einstein - “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
Friday, 20 June 2014
I'm currently on a new drawing/sculptural piece called 'Tattooed Tumour Box'. At the moment it's little more than a wooden cube, but it will eventually have more box structures 'growing' out of it (not unlike my Crutch and Tumour Box sculpture), and be covered in a series of my morphed components sketches – all meshed together to form one fully enveloping drawing.
I had initially planned to have it ready to enter for this year's Jerwood Drawing Prize (deadline now expired), but I soon realised that coming up with the drawings alone, never mind the rest of the box structures, will probably take me a few more weeks.
The drawing element that I've already transposed to the initial cube section is taken from my Morphed Components graphite ink, screen print. And like the drawing that the print was originally based upon, this second drawing, soon to be transposed to the sculpture, is also a rendering of found objects (albeit exaggerated, and morphed together) that I've collected for possible use in future sculptures.
Friday, 30 May 2014
In anticipation of a glorious Summer, I've had my Swirly Skull design screen printed onto a small number of colourful cotton tote bags – five of each colour.
Apart from one white on red, all the designs are printed in black. The colours of the bags are - pink, rose (light pink), violet, yellow, orange, forget-me-not (bright blue), green, grey, and red. Here are a few of them but you can see the full range by clicking on the Available Prints and Bags box at the top left-hand corner of this page. If you'd like one then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are £8 each (plus a little bit for postage).
But if these are all a bit too colourful for your liking then I still a few of the unbleached, Earth Positive, carbon neutral, 100% organic cotton plain weave, 120 g/3.5 oz, tote shopping bags left. They too have my Swirly Skull design screen printed on the one side, and are roughly 42 x 38 cm (not counting the handles). I'm selling them at £10 (UK pounds sterling) each. If you would like one, drop me an line at email@example.com and we'll sort something out.
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
I've recently been in the process of moving from my current 3D studio in Dalston, to a larger (and much closer to home) one in Bethnal Green. So whilst all the materials and equipment that I normally use for making sculptures have been boxed up ready for the move, I've been working on some paintings in my 2D studio.
For a while now I've been tinkering with the idea of doing some 2D and 3D cross-over pieces. One line of enquiry that I'm eager to pursue is a series of painted tower and box sculptures; either brightly painted in single colours, with possible tonal variations, or with intricate designs, like tattoos. However, whilst sorting through my store of old wood, I rediscovered some sections of early twentieth century packing crates that I'd been collecting. Because of their characteristic patinas, stains, and old labels, I like to use them in the construction of my box and tower structures. But this time I thought that I'd use some of the plywood to paint on. In this first one, 'Tentacle Touch Teddy', I made a start on the cross over process by depicting an image of one of my wheeled, orifice boxes on the surface of the very material that I normally use to construct the sculptures themselves. There's also something very satisfying about painting on a rough, and untreated mid-tone surface (and working with its existing idiosyncrasies), as opposed to a pristine white one.
For this second piece, which is more of a quick painterly sketch, I was fascinated by the woman's almost disproportionately long torso; a detail I then accentuated by making it a fraction longer. Apart from the black marker lines I chose not to add any dark shading to the piece, and instead let the actual colour of the plywood fill in for shadow.
With this third painting, which I'm trying to fight the urge to call 'Octopussy', I wanted to use a flat Pop Art/cartoon style to create more of a contrast between the paint and the plywood's natural surface. I also wanted to come up with a contemporary take on the traditional Shunga prints of Japan. And in keeping with the Japanese theme, I incorporated the octopus tentacle (now a heavily eroticised image in much of the material that comes out of Japan), but subverted its presence by having the woman use it for her own masturbatory purposes, as opposed to the usual phallus metaphor that has the tip end of the tentacle exploring and attempting to penetrate.
Sunday, 23 March 2014
Yesterday saw this year's RCA Secret postcards go on sale. I had thought about popping along to the exhibition in the morning but then I was kindly invited by a journalist friend, Miss Holly Howe, to the Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art preview and brunch. And I'm not ashamed to say that I was a little seduced by the art, champaign, and truffle nibbles. It was then decided that the north side of the river probably held too many entertaining distractions (distractions that were to include a quick run round the Saatchi Gallery on the King's Road, watching the amazing Gravity in 3D at Soho House, and finally, drinks with friends in Clerkenwell) so we didn't venture to RCA's site in Battersea after all.
All I'll say is that I hope that all of you who queued for so long, managed to get at least one of your favourite postcards from your list.
So, now that the secret's out, regarding who made which postcard, I can reveal which from the show were mine. No great surprise, I'm sure, for anyone that knows any of my cards from previous years. This year however, I decided to give the sculptures and drawings a miss, and go for watercolours.
One of these three pieces was bought by a rather intrepid Mister Nick Lane, who (after failing to get my one sculptural postcard from last year – see image from previous post) spent a night camped out in the queue with the rest of the crazy gang. He assures me that despite the cold, it was a fun experience. I'll just have to take your word for that Nick.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Tomorrow sees the opening of this year's RCA Secret, or more correctly, the Stewarts Law RCA Secret, newly re-named in honour of the show's sponsor, the law firm Stewarts Law.
For those who don't know what the RCA Secret is, here's a brief run-down (lazily lifted from the RCA's own site):
“Stewarts Law RCA Secret is an exhibition and sale of original postcard-sized artworks, by internationally acclaimed artists plus up-and coming graduates from the Royal College of Art. It's your chance to get your hands on original works of art for a tiny price.
This year we’ll be presenting 2900 works by over 1,100 artists. We’ll be revealing the full lineup of artists when the exhibition opens on 13 March as well as images of all the postcards.
With generous contributions of new work from hundreds of artists and designers, Stewarts Law RCA Secret continues to help emerging artists at a formative stage in their careers.
Exhibition open: Thursday 13 March to Friday 21 March 2014, 11am-6pm daily (late opening until 9pm on 20 March only)
Sale open: Saturday 22 March 2014, 8am-6pm.
ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART BATTERSEA
Dyson Building, 1 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN
Ever wondered if you could spot a Paula Rego at 20 paces? How about a David Bailey? Each postcard in Stewarts Law RCA Secret is signed only on the back, so Collectors don't know the identity of the artists until they have made their purchases.
Proceeds to Royal College of Art Fine Art Student Award Fund.
You must have a Collector's Number to purchase a card at Stewarts Law RCA Secret. Register HERE to get one.”
As with previous years, I will be participating in the show. Here's an image of one of my entries from last year; my most 3D RCA Secret postcard yet. For anyone that knows my work (and if you don't, then this image is a bit of a clue), I don't think that this year's pieces will be too difficult to spot. But if you do need another clue then all I'll say is 'watercolours'.
Now, I'm off to find me a sponsor. Next time you encounter me I hope to be going by the name The Tesco Wayne Chisnall.
Thursday, 13 February 2014
Last month I was paid a visit, in my Dalston studio, by the very talented, and keen-eyed photographer, Oliver Goodrich. One of his current projects involves the documenting of artists, designers and general creative types etc. in their working environments. And when he asked if I would like to take part I had to say yes. I mean, what self-respecting, self-obsessed ego maniac would say no to the chance of free photos of themselves, shot by an accomplished photographer?
When Oliver sent me his selection of photos from the day's shoot I was impressed with the results. It was hard to whittle them down to just the three that you see here (and I probably left out the best ones, but isn't that always the way? Whenever I look at people's image selections I always think why did they choose those images – these other ones are much better), but posting more would appear a little too self indulgent. And I'm trying to keep up appearances.
As weird as it can feel, having someone point a camera at you for hours on end, the shoot was pretty relaxed. During the whole proceedings we chatted, joked, I worked (and occasionally pretended to be working), and I went through some of the hoards of materials that I use in my sculptures. In this second photo you see me showing Oliver an elastic band ball that I made in my childhood. I don't consider it a piece of artwork or anything like that, but I do love the way that the outer layers have perished over time. And it also highlights how reluctant I am to throw anything away. Who knows – maybe it will make an appearance in one of my sculptures, one day. Sometimes, I wonder if I became an artist just so that I'd have an excuse to hoard crap.
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Thank you to everyone that kindly voted for my entry in the up-coming Curious Art-Pie Show. As a result, my Orifice Tower sculpture is now one of the exhibits in the show's rather splendid-looking line-up.
As you can see from the flyer, the exhibition's opening party starts at 6PM on Thursday 6th Feb. So feel free to come along and join us, but please remember to RSVP first at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new gallery address (they've just relocated a couple of doors along from their previous address) is 173 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8QP, just a few minute's walk from Old Street tube station.
Art-Pie, London based bloggers collective bringing you street and modern art encounters straight on your screen, has been sponsored by Curious Duke Gallery.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Here's a short promo for next month's Curious Art-Pie Show, in which I'll be exhibiting my Orifice Tower sculpture. But be warned - before watching it (especially if you're at work), you may want to turn down the volume on your computer.
Saturday, 4 January 2014
Last year I was approached by Becki McGuinness to produce an illustration for her book, Coping With The Big C, which is a collection of poems written by cancer fighters, survivors, and those who support them.
Although having been diagnosed with osteosarcoma (an aggressive bone cancer) at an early age, Becki did not allow the disease to hold her back, or define her. She has been involved with the Princes Trust, performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, written articles, and works with various charities. But to find out more about this amazing young woman, what she's been through, and what she's currently up to check out Becki's blog (www.copingwiththebigc.blogspot.com) or follow her on Twitter. And if you'd like to help Becki further her message then please vote for her blog at this link to the UK Blog Awards.
The brief that Becki set for the illustration was pretty specific. And from the drawing that I produced you can see that, even with all the horrendous things Becki has had to go through, she still has a pretty wicked sense of humour.
Friday, 13 December 2013
For the last month and a half, I've working on designs for the new Ping Pong restaurant, next to Wembley Stadium, North London. For anyone that doesn't know much about Ping Pong, they're an international restaurant chain that specialise in Dim sum. And for this project I've been working in conjunction with Andy Martin Architects who have done an amazing job on the look and feel of the building.
After numerous ideas and sketches (some of them a bit more out there than others) we settled upon a 1930's Shanghai influence for my mural design, as this tied in with the over-all vibe of the restaurant. My approach to the mural was to paint it in such a way that it looks as though the design has been up on the wall for years, and faded, and flaking off in places. This was easier to achieve in the flat areas of colour, such as the stylised, blue and white, cloud element, but a bit trickier with the tonal areas of the figure. But I'm very happy with how it turned out.
As well as the mural, I also hand-painted five large wall panels for the ladies and gents. The original designs for these were quite adventurous but in the end we realised that something a little more toned-down would work best in these areas. So I came up with a subtler image that was a sort of contemporary take on a fairly traditional oriental flower and stem design.
The piece that I most enjoyed working on during this project is a massive, 20 metre-long light box that hangs from the ceiling, in the centre of the restaurant. For this I came up with a predominantly aquatic themed design, incorporating drawings of jellyfish, octopuses, fish, seaweed, and weird forms, morphing together. This is the part of the project into which I feel I was able to inject more of my own style, and therefore really go to town on it.
Unfortunately the light box had not been installed by the time that I finished the mural so I don't have any photos of it yet. In fact, when I return in the New Year (to complete another mural for a private dinning area that has been built on-site), that will be the first time that I get to see the fully constructed light box. But until I go back and take some photos, here's a preliminary drawing that I made for one element of the piece, just to give you a feel for it. The actual light box design is quite brightly coloured, so that's another thing that I'm eagerly anticipating seeing.
Monday, 9 December 2013
I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been voting for my entry in the up-coming Curious Art-Pie Show, which, amazingly, has now put my piece in the top three most voted for. The artwork that I've entered is my 2m tall, piece, Orifice Tower. The organisers of the show told me that it is the only sculptural entry so far. So hopefully that should stand in its favour – I think!
So if any of you kind souls out there wouldn't mind casting a vote my way (or even spreading the word) I'd be a very happy bunny. I'm sure that all of you are pretty computer-savvy, but for any fellow Luddites out there, in order to vote, you have to click on the yellow stars (1 star BAD, 10 stars GOOD) at the top left-hand side of the page of whoever it is that you want to vote for (yes, it took me quite some time before I realised this).
The closing date for casting votes is 31st December but to find out more about the show, here's some details that I lifted from the organisers' website -
Art-Pie, London based bloggers collective bringing you street and modern art encounters straight on your screen, has been sponsored by Curious Duke Gallery (CDG) and are asking you, the public, to vote in a top 50 of artists in our open submission competition for unrepresented artists to win a chance to exhibit their work in The Curious Art-Pie Show in February 2014, in CDG’s East London space.
All submissions will be live online under artists entries, giving you the chance to cast your discerning vote on these creative talents by the 31/12/2013. Your carefully chosen top 50 will then be whittled down to 20 by our panel of industry insiders, culminating in the line up for The Curious Art-Pie Show. Showcasing from 6th – 12th February 2014 in Curious Duke Gallery’s 300 year old building, we look forward to seeing you there (and your choices)!
Let the fun begin!
Sunday, 1 December 2013
I've been so busy the last month and a half, working on designs for the interior of the new Ping Pong restaurant in Wembley that I've not had much time for any blog updates of late. But I'll just give a quick mention of the group show, White Out, in which I'll be exhibiting my most recent screen print, Morphed Components.
The exhibition/event, curated by internationally renowned artist, Jill Rock, and featuring over 20 artists and performers, takes place at Hoxton's Hundred Years Gallery. Running from the 3rd December to the 9th January, the exhibition hosts a glorious array of artwork, poetry, film, music and performance art. Hopefully I'll have finished the Ping Pong design work in time to make it to the opening night on Thursday.
Here's the events schedule:
Opening: Thursday December 5th. 6:30; CYCLOPS - performance by Jo Roberts and KMAT, plus Grassy Noel’s Journey In White, Jill Rock and Nicky Heinen’s Be Not Afeared, and Giles Leaman Solo performance
Saturday December 7th. 7:00 – 10:30: Films by Robert Robertson, Nicky Scott Francis, Mervyn Diese
Sunday December 8th. 3pm – 6pm an afternoon of improvisation with Will Miles (flute), Matt Scott (accordion), Gabriel Keen (piano) and Ivor Kallin (viola)
Saturday 14th. 7.30 – 10.30: Jaime Valtierra programmed improvised event: ‘The Waiting’ with Eve Tenenbaum, Sofia Figurido, Eloise Carles, Grassy Noel, Jill Rock, Nicky Heinen, Yuri Pirondi, Ines Von Bonhorst, Cos Chapman
Sunday 15th. 3pm – 6pm; improvisation by Bitten By A Monkey with Steven Myers, Dylan Bates, Roland Bates…..
Saturday 21st 7:00 – 10:30 : Saturnalia – a night of mis-rule Sunday 22nd Gilgamesh 3pm – 6pm- interpretation by Richard Cardew, reading by Jill Rock accompanied by Nicky Heinen
Saturday January 4th and Sunday January 5th; post coital poetry bash
Friday, 8 November 2013
The trailer for Monster has been out for a while now but at the time I absent mindedly forgot to give it a mention. So here it is.
As you may remember from some of my earlier posts, Monster is one of the nine short films that make up the movie, Blaze of Gory. In the trailer we see actress Sandra Wer as psychopathic killer and arsonist, Stacey, and in the background, a few of the 15 paintings that I created for the film.
Monster is about a young girl locked away in a high-security mental hospital for a series of brutal crimes and is based on the writings of Blaize-Alix Szanto, who wrote a series of very disturbing stories between the ages of 12 and 15. The cast includes scream-queen Victoria Broom, and ex-Coronation Street legend Martin Hancock. The film's director is Andy Edwards, whose previous horror anthology feature, the chilling triptych "Three's A Shroud", won the British Horror Award at the British Horror Film Festival 2012.
To see stills from the set of Monster check out Paranoid Android Films on Facebook.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
It's been a couple of years since I first exhibited my sculptures at Scream; back when they were still located in their original Mayfair gallery. And now you can find my prints amongst the those of an impressive collection of artists, on the online gallery, Scream Editions.
The site sells limited edition prints by a wide range of international artists. Both up and coming, and established. Amongst the more established are names such as Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, Joan Miro, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sir Peter Blake, and Gavin Turk.
But I was also pleased to see the names of a few of my friends amongst the list of Scream Editions artists. Friends who's work I'm pleased to be able to truthfully say that I'm impressed with. Fantastic artists like Remi Rough, David Shillinglaw, and L G White.
Saturday, 2 November 2013
You may have noticed (or maybe not) that I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front of late. No, I've not been on holiday. A lot of my creative energy, over the last few weeks, has been diverted away from my personal projects, as I focus on a commercial one. I've been approached to produce some designs for the interior of one of the London branches of a well-known restaurant chain. Sometimes it's hard to sum up the same amount of enthusiasm for commercial work as it is for one's one projects but I must say, now I've got my teeth stuck into this one, I'm really enjoying it. I can't say too much about it at the moment, and here's a lot of hard work ahead, but once things start to take shape I'll post some photos of the end result.
In the meantime, here's an early sketch to give you a feel of where it's going. It's an idea for one side of a very large, four sided light box structure, that is intended to hang from the ceiling of the restaurant.
Sunday, 29 September 2013
This Friday (4th October) we'll be having a private view from 5-9pm so please feel free to pop along, check out the artwork, meet the artists, and join us for a drink. If you don't know where Candid is, it's at 3 Torrens Street, directly behind Angel Tube Station. But here's a map.
In all the rush of getting ready for last month's trip I didn't manage to thank those freaky folks at Skull-A-Day for mentioning my Swirly Skull tote bags, on their wonderfully addictive site. So now I'd like to send them a double thank you as they've just featured my recent Skull Tower painting.
For anyone that hasn't checked out their site then the blog's name pretty much says it all (resisting the urge to say that bloody awful 'what it says on the tin' phrase). Every day they feature a different skull image; be it a painting, drawing, sculpture or whatever. My favourites are the simulacra skulls, where people have submitted photos of everyday objects that bear skull-like markings. They're a bit like those photos where people claim to see the face of Jesus in a taco, or Mother Teresa in a Chelsea Bun. Although to be fare, pretty much all Chelsea bun's look a lot like Mother Teresa's face.
So if you're anything like me, and have had a life-long passion for anything skull-related, then this is definitely the site for you.
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
I'm finally back from my short but hectic around the world trip (taking in Dubai, Melbourne, Tasmania, Hong Kong, Alaska, New York and Virginia, before touching back down in London – all in 25 days), so I suppose I had better post some up-dates on what my artwork has been up to in my absence.
The inaugural We Are Art People exhibition (a group show in which I exhibited two sculptures and two prints) at the Naked Eye Gallery in Hove, East Sussex went so well that it got extended. And I'm looking forward to finding out how the special, one night only event on the 5th September, at Lounge Lover went. It was a sort of pre-launch of Laissez Fare Art. It was also the second time that I've exhibited along side Tessa Farmer who's work I unexpectedly came across at MONA, my now favourite museum, in Tasmania. MONA is what you'd expect a Bond villain's secret base to look like if he'd suddenly decided to give up his plans for world domination and convert it into a museum of strange and macabre art. Right up my street!
Thursday, 22 August 2013
Typical! I haven't had a new exhibition open for a couple of months, then I plan three weeks away from London (I'll actually be de-installing and couriering the Victoria and Albert Museum's touring Hollywood Costume exhibition, which will be taking me to Dubai, Melbourne, Hong Kong, New York and Virginia) and suddenly I get offered four exhibitions that take place during the time frame that I'll be away.
Needless to say, I won't be able to exhibit in all four shows, but I will be showing in two of them. The first one will be the inaugural We Are Art People exhibition at the Naked Eye Gallery in Hove (next to Brighton), East Sussex, from the 30th August to the 1st September. As I won't be around to deliver or collect my work I've had to massively down-scale what I'll be exhibiting, but I will still be showing a couple of screen prints and two small sculptures.
The second show will be a special, one night only event on the 5th September, at Lounge Lover in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London – to celebrate the launch of Laissez Fare Art. Entitled 'A Twisted Summer Night's Dream', the evening will have a loose fairytale theme, with sculptural/installation artworks, actors reciting lines from the bard's similarly titled play, and different scented rooms (courtesy of Etat Libre d'Orange Perfumes). Amongst the confirmed artists is the rather wonderful Tessa Farmer who's sinister 'fairies' are something else. Me? Well, I will be exhibiting my 'Sleeping Beauty Box' sculpture.
As for the two exhibitions that I won't be able to show in – one of them is 'Art at the Crypt: Alterations', curated by artist Ellie Geary. This show also opens on the 5th September, and takes place in the crypt at St. Giles Church, Camberwell. Luckily the show is to be the first in an on-going series of art exhibitions at the venue (which I hear also plays host to one of the best jazz clubs in London) so at least I'll be able to exhibit at one of their future shows.
The other one that I was invited to show in is an exhibition called Fifty By Fifty at the Nancy Victor Gallery in Fitzrovia, London (where I had my first solo show). This one looks amazing so I'm a bit gutted that I only got the call to exhibit a couple of days before heading off to Australia. Although, saying that – I've been working like crazy for the past few weeks, finishing off various design projects before flying off, so I wouldn't have had time to start and complete anything new for Fifty By Fifty anyway.
But if you are in London whilst any of these shows are on please pop along and let me know how they went.
Saturday, 10 August 2013
Here's my recent Art Book Guy interview with the very engaging art collector, writer, and full-time broadcast journalist, Michael K. Corbin.
WAYNE CHISNALL: ORGANIC STRUCTURES
I saw Wayne Chisnall’s work online www.waynechisnall.blogspot.com and found it very intriguing. This British artist sculpts and paints with a somewhat dark yet humorous insight. He’s also a cool dude. Here’s our chat…
MICHAEL: Hey Wayne, First off, your wood sculptural work is very intriguing. The pieces are mechanical and organic at the same time. Some look robotic and somewhat human. What inspires you to create these works?
WAYNE: Hi there, Michael. I've always been fascinated by the pure functionality of organic structures and the elegant forms that nature throws up. As a youngster, I would endlessly draw and paint vines and root systems, trying to authentically capture the flow and form of something that has grown rather than been man-made. And when I moved from being a 2D artist to a 3D one, I suppose that this love of the organic crept into my sculptural work. Even though a lot of my work incorporates very geometric structures (boxes and towers etc.), I like to construct them with an organic aesthetic or at least incorporate organic elements. And there are times that I might deliberately leave out anything that has the flow of an organic structure because I like the visual dichotomy of a piece with a rectilinear, 'boxy' look, but that mimics a mechanism from nature. A prime example of this would be my 'Crutch and Tumour Box' sculpture which is inspired by the rogue cell-producing properties of a cancerous mass and has a mutated, yet still geometric, appearance. Apart from some of my earlier fiberglass pieces and my more recent Pharos Cyclops sculptures, I hadn't seen myself as a figurative sculptor, even though a lot of my work will incorporate small elements from the figure; maybe an eye here, or some teeth there etc. But saying that, because of my anthropomorphic side, I do tend to imbue, or at least imagine, some of my works with human personality traits. And I guess that some of my artist friends must share similar sensibilities as one of them saw my 'Orifice Tower' sculpture at a recently exhibition and said that she saw it as a humorous self portrait. I love it when people see stuff in my work that I didn't. Just because I'm the creator of my work, I don't believe that mine should be the definitive explanation or interpretation of it.
MICHAEL: Most of us take wood for granted and don't think much about it. Yet you work with it all of the time. What have you learned about wood as a result?
WAYNE: Oddly enough, I was dreaming about pieces of wood this morning. If you hadn't asked me that question, I'm sure that I would have soon forgotten about it. It wasn't a very interesting dream. From what I can vaguely remember, I was anxiously trying to find a small strip of wood for a certain job. Wood is such a beautiful and versatile material. I don't have any traditional carpentry skills, but after working with the material for so long, you tend to develop a feel for its strengths and weaknesses and how far you can push it. Some of my wooden structures might look a little ramshackle in construction, but if you look closely, you'll notice that the vast majority of the joints are interlocked in a way that, even without having been glued, they are strongly held together. I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to the little details in my work; lots of my wooden sculptures will contain box structures with internal passageways or details that are hidden from view. But I enjoy the fact that I know that they are there, even if no-one can see them. Yet it's not just the feel and versatility of wood that I love. It's the appearance and the patina that can from old wood over years of interaction with people or the environment. I find it hard to walk past an old bit of wood and not drag it back to my studio for potential use. As a result, my studio is starting to fill up with piles of wood and other found materials – to the point where my work space is now being encroached upon.
MICHAEL: So you work with wood that you find on the street. Do you get it from anywhere else?
WAYNE: I work part-time at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and have managed to source quite a bit of wonderful-looking old wood from there; mostly the backboards of old frames and early/mid 20th Century packing crates that were destined for the skip. With wood like this, you get a real feel of its personal history – the dust, stains, evidence of wear, old labels, archaic styles of handwriting etc.
MICHAEL: I find it so interesting that you also work in a great museum. That explains the elaborate and intricate nature of your work. What's it like for you to be around all of that great work of the past and yet create cool contemporary work of your own?
WAYNE: The V and A is a unique place to work. A lot of people forget that it's a museum of design (probably the biggest one in the world), so its collection and exhibitions cover both ancient and modern items. And it's with the museum's contemporary collections and exhibitions that I most enjoy working. Although I get to handle some of the most amazing treasures and objects, both from the V&A's collection and lent by museums and collections from all around the world (one of my highlights having been getting to hold a couple of da Vinci sketchbooks), I don't think that the museum environment influences my work as much as you might think. Obviously, the recycled materials (from the museum) that I use in my work have a bearing on the visual appearance of my sculptures, and some of the knowledge that I've picked up regarding the archival nature of certain materials has influenced what I will and won't use in my work, but in general, my influences lie outside of the museum's collection. I'm probably just as likely to find inspiration in a piece of debris that I find lying in the street as I am from anything by the great masters.
MICHAEL: Your work also seems to have a diabolical, mad hatter vibe to it (in a good way). The end result of your sculptures and paintings make me think you've just emerged from your foggy laboratory where you've just completed your latest concoction of disparate items that mean nothing alone, but when combined with other things, they make one wicked stew. HAHAHAHA!
WAYNE: Thank you, that means a lot to me. I'm a firm believer in trying to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – although you still have to choose your parts carefully. I sometimes wonder what people must think when they visit my flat or my studio for the first time. I'm just so used to massing odd items and materials that I collect, for use in my work, that I no-longer question it. It's only when your guests have left that you suddenly think 'oh, maybe that birdcage full of bones, the pile of dismembered dolls, the human skull and all those drawers labeled 'insects, teeth, hair, and dead things' might seem a bit of an odd thing for a normal human being to have in their living space.’ I remember once having a friend come to visit and he stayed overnight in a spare room that I was using as a temporary work space. He said that he didn't sleep a wink because it was like trying to sleep in a museum of the macabre. But I think he was exaggerating.
MICHAEL: You can find out if he was exaggerating by inviting him back. Somehow, I think he did not sleep a wink. LOL. You know, whenever I chat with artists who work with found objects, it always reminds me that everything retains a sense of nobility even after it has been discarded. This is especially true of human beings, No?
WAYNE: That's interesting. I'd not really thought about it as a sense of nobility before. But I totally get where you're coming from. I find these bits of detritus and can't help but see them as having an essence that they've somehow picked up along the way – either through age and interaction with their environments or through human contact. I suppose that this resonance is more obviously felt with natural materials; especially something like bone or hair.
MICHAEL: What's with the doll heads and skulls? I'm choosing to believe this is more about fun and not your "dark side."
WAYNE: Maybe it's a bit of both. I've been told that I have a dark sense of humour. But I think that that's a very normal English trait anyway. The doll parts were originally leftover pieces from a doll version of the life-size model kit sculpture, 'And When I'm a Man,’ that I made of myself. But I have been collecting more doll parts for two new sculptures that were intended for the windows of a restored Anglican chapel in Nunhead Cemetery, in South London. The project was due for installation this September, however the curator was unsure of how the more conservative residents of the area, might view the subject matter, so I've decided to pull out of the project rather than submit a watered-down version. When I was selected for the project, I was asked to chose an existing stained glass window as an inspiration for my installation. I chose Herod's 'Massacre of the Innocents.’ Ironically, all the historical stained glass windows (in old churches and cathedrals throughout Europe), depicting this biblical subject, tend to be incredibly graphic and violent, whereas my piece would have had none of that. As for the human skull - it's to be the crowning glory of a new tower sculpture that I'm planning; not too dissimilar to my recent Orifice Tower piece, but hopefully even more intricate and detailed. I'm actually working on a 2D piece at the moment that was intended to be a large working drawing in preparation for the sculpture, but I got a bit carried away and it's now become a painting. I came by the skull through quite a nice piece of serendipity. A researcher for Channel 4 asked me if I'd be interested in letting them feature one of my sculptures on the latest series of their TV show, ‘Four Rooms.’ I said yes and when I was in the green room of their studio, I got chatting to an antiques dealer who also had a piece in the show. We both got talking about what we do and I mentioned that I'd been looking for a real human skull for one of my sculptural projects. He told me that he had one that he'd picked up from a medical auction and promised to send me pictures of it once he got home. True to his word, he did. However, when I saw it, I realised that its upper and lower jaws were missing, which meant that it wouldn't be suitable for what I had planned. But as is often the case with interesting finds, the image of the skull took root in my mind and the idea for Skull Tower germinated. But I'm still on the lookout for a complete human skull for the original project, so if any of your readers out there know of one, please let me know. Sorry – thought I'd just get that in, because you never know...
MICHAEL: How is the sculpting process different from painting for you? I know that they're both about expression, but how do you determine which you will do on any given day?
WAYNE: My flitting between 2D and 3D works is usually dependent upon when a deadline for one project or other is coming up or simply because of what I feel like working on next. If I've been working for a long time on sculptural pieces, I sometimes feels like having a break by switching to something 2D. Nowadays, most of my time is divided between sculpting and drawing. I think that when I first discovered my love of sculpting, I lost some of my interest in the painterly aspect of painting and a lot of my proceeding paintings became quite graphic and less tonal – probably little more than coloured drawings.
MICHAEL: Finally Wayne, what's the point of art? Don't we have more important things to talk about like healthcare and the homeless? What difference does art make in today's world?
WAYNE: I think that art is the most and least important thing in the world. As an optimistic nihilist, I realise that everything is impermanent and ultimately pointless unless seen as something that should just be enjoyed for what it is and for the brief time that it exists. So I say do what makes you happy or fulfilled. For me, that is art. I can't say what difference art makes in today's world, but I'm not sure that I'd like to live in a world without it. Some years ago, a friend once asked me something similar. He asked, “What's the point in art?” Oddly enough, he now has quite a collection of my work; most of it up on his living room wall.
MICHAEL: Mission accomplished! Thanks Wayne, this has been great. Check out Wayne Chisnall at www.waynechisnall.blogspot.com.