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.
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 (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.