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