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.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Norito Interview

A few weeks ago a couple of the lovely folks from Norito popped round to my studio to interview me. Well, I say interview – it was mostly me just gabbering away, trying not to loose my train of thought, and gesticulating like a crazy person.

In this video snippet from our chat I'm mostly talking about one of my current projects, 'Tattooed Tumour Box'. A transcript of the full interview and pictures of more of my work can be found here. The oil paintings behind me, in the video, aren't mine by the way. They're by the wonderful artist, Yuko Nabeta, with whom I share a studio.

In case you didn't know, Norito is a global entertainment organisation that was established to promote arts and entertainment and to provide an inside look into the lifestyles of people from different creative fields.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

'Scenes of Mild Peril' – The Scaramanga Six

Okay, there's no confirmed release date yet but those northern music monkeys, The Scaramanga Six are at it again. Never ones to rest on their laurels, their latest creative outpouring comes in the form of 'Scenes of Mild Peril', a fourteen track , live-in-session CD/DVD. This two-disc package includes four brand new songs, and features my sculpture, 'Nail Box'. Ahh! Bless his spiky little heart... now he's on an album cover he thinks he's a rock star.

Trying to describe this gloriously eccentric rock, pop quartet (possibly quintet – it's hard to keep track), I found my inner muso tragically still born, so instead shamelessly lifted the following info (alas, I'll never make it into journo heaven) from the Scaramanga's own site.

 'The Scaramanga Six is the brainchild of headstrong siblings Paul and Steven Morricone. Not in any way like your conventional mindless rock-star filth, The Morricone brothers appear more like a pair of polite and softly-spoken, yet viciously intense and sadistic nightclub bouncers. Raised in the Westcountry seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare on an education of Stranglers records (by elder brothers) and Tony Bennett records (by their Mum), the young Morricone twins discovered there was much fun to be had in crooning and shouting in equal measures. The Scaramanga Six was finally realised in the dark & drizzly backdrop of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where the band still lurk to this very day.' 

Cover photo courtesy of photographer, Rosie Mayell.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

'Sum of Their Parts' Ends Tomorrow

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow (7th September) is the last day you'll be able to catch the upcycling show, 'Sum of Their Parts' at the #Hashtag Gallery in Toronto, Canada. So if you're in the area then please feel free to pop along and check out the work.

I have two small sculptures, 'Despairoscope' and 'Spider Box', along with a few screen prints in the exhibition but there is also some amazing work being shown by the likes of Flavio Falena (Italy), Ben Frost (Australia/Canada), Melissa Moffat (Canada), My Dog Sighs (UK), Aaron Rinas (Canada), Jason Rowland (USA), What Have I Done Now (UK), and the co-curators, Johnny Hollick (#Hashtag Gallery founder) and Rob Collinet (See The Ghost).

Last day of show - September 7th
On Facebook  |
On Eventbrite
#Hashtag Gallery, 801 Dundas Street West (south side), Toronto, ON. M6J 1V2.

For all media inquiries and questions: johnny[at]

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Half Price Print Sale (all of September)

Two blog posts in one day – this has gotta be a record for me.

My birthday month is almost upon us (yes, I greedily choose the celebrate my birthday over a wider time scale than some. In fact, as a friend's wedding will also be falling within September, I plan to hijack his celebrations too) so to celebrate I'm having a 50% off sale on all of my prints on paper.

The regular, eleven months of the year, prices are in-keeping with that of the galleries that sell my work for me, but September is a carefree month. She doesn't care about galleries and their rules. She wants to let her hair down and run naked through the.... er, sorry... where was I? Oh yes! September – half price prints sale!

So, from tomorrow onwards, until September 30th, my Swirly Skulls (black and white) screen print will be £60, Swirly Skulls on Pink will be £70, Morphed Components (my personal favourite, and now tying in with my current sculpture project – see previous post) will be £80, and the Spidey Pods screen prints will be £100 each.

So if you'd like one of my screen prints while they're still half price drop me a line at and I'll exchange you a big bit of paper for some smaller ones.

Tattooed Tumour Box - Progress Report #1

Most of the structural work for my new sculpture, Tattooed Tumour Box, is already built. It's now just a matter of coming up with the drawings, transferring them onto the numerous plywood sections, and then assembling the work.

The time consuming stages now are going to be coming up with the new drawings, which are mostly based upon sketches of found objects that I've been collecting, along with elements of my existing sculptures, and bits that I just make up as I go along (all morphed together). Although the act of getting the drawing onto the sculpture can be very laborious in itself, as I first have to sketch out the idea, trace it in ink onto tracing paper, re-draw over the lines on the tracing paper when I transfer the image to the plywood, then re-draw it again when I ink in the final image on the sculpture's surface. It's a bloody good job that I enjoy what I do!
As this isn't exactly going to be five minute affair I thought that I'd post some images from various stages of the process as it progresses. Above is a photo of one of the sides of the main cube section of the sculpture, after the final inking-in stage. 

All the drawings that I'm making for this project take their lead from an earlier drawing that I came up with, called Morphed Components, and it's this drawing that forms the starting point for the sculpture's 'tattoo'. In the top right-hand corner of this scan of the inked-up tracing you can see that I've indicated the area where one particular section of the drawing folds back over another part of the same drawing, as it moves around a corner section of the sculpture. This is proving to be an 'interesting' aspect of the process that I'm quickly learning to factor in.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

SUM OF THEIR PARTS - Toronto Exhibition.

It seems I'm getting a bit exhibition greedy this month. Not content with being in just one art show, four days before my work comes down at Candid Gallery in Islington, London on 25th, I'll be exhibiting work at the #Hashtag Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

Co-curatored by Johnny Hollick (#Hashtag Gallery founder) and Rob Collinet (See The Ghost), the show features work by a selection of international mixed media, sculpture, and assemblage artists; all linked by their passion for upcycling.

As well as work from the co-curators, the show will feature pieces from Flavio Falena (Italy), Ben Frost (Australia/Canada), Melissa Moffat (Canada), My Dog Sighs (UK), Aaron Rinas (Canada), Jason Rowland (USA), What Have I Done Now (UK), and more besides.

For my part I'll be exhibiting two small sculptures, 'Despairoscope' and 'Spider Box', along with a few screen prints.

Unfortunately I won't be able to make it to the opening reception, but if you happen to be in the area and would like to pop along then please remember to RSVP to RSVP@HASHTAGGALLERY.COM.
August 21st – September 7th
Reception August 21st @ 7pm (RSVP A MUST)
On Facebook  |  On Eventbrite

#Hashtag Gallery
801 Dundas Street West (south side)
Toronto, ON. M6J 1V2. Canada

For all media inquiries and questions: