We are delighted to have a postcard sized original artwork from Carne Griffiths as part of our UltimART Golden Ticket lottery with CultureLabel. Working primarily with calligraphy inks, graphite and liquids, such as tea, brandy and vodka Griffiths’ fascination with drawing focuses on the creation and manipulation of the drawn line. Images explore human, geometric and floral forms, in a combination of both literal and abstract translation and in response to images and situations encountered in daily life. Images are recorded in a dreamlike sense onto the page where physical boundaries are unimportant. His work creates a journey of escapism which focuses on scenes of awe and wonder, projecting a sense of abandonment and inviting the viewer to share and explore this inner realm.
Katherine Stewart caught up with Carne for a chat about his work
KS How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Is there any correlation between the things you chose to depict as a child and those you’re drawing now?
CG I remember drawing habitually as a child from the age of 4 - dogs and spaceships as I remember - and being intrigued by both reproducing reality and creating something - those things remain with me - I love blurring boundaries between the real and tangible and those abstract elements.
KS You have a fascination with symmetry it would seem, which translates into your depictions of the female face and its features. Where do you think this fascination with a symmetrical ideal stems from? Do you draw your subjects from mind or from a picture or do you have real life models in front of you while you’re painting?
CG I believe a successful painting must have balance, this is a really important aspect of my work - whether through symmetry or through asymmetrical forms, the balance helps to make sense of the chaotic elements. My reference for the subjects comes from a variety of sources, photo shoots, magazine cuttings, live studies, but they all have a common element - I am not trying to capture a likeness but rather an essence within the work - the eyes are particularly important in this sense - they form a connection with the viewer or sometimes seem lost and faraway causing intrigue.
KS The subjects of your images - much like the one in your lottery card drawing - gaze out at the viewer with a variety of emotions, at times angrily or disarmingly, at others eyes-glazed-over or nonchalant. How do you choose the facial expressions of your subjects and the flora and folia that adorns them? Does it translate at all into how you’re feeling personally that day?
CG This emotion is the key factor in the work - if I am referencing an image from a magazine, maybe from an advert - there will be a deliberate connection to the viewer, a lust longing or wanting, to sell a product, I want to use this emaotion and return it to nature, or to reflect on chaos - these are the elements that are most prevalent in my work - our disconnection from the natural world and the ensuing chaos this creates. Personal emotions influence the work but on a different level - the subconscious mark making and abstract elements are a result of my own emotions and connection to the painting.
KS You served an apprenticeship at the longest-established gold wire embroidery firm in the world, wow. What drew you to this and do you think it has some reflection in the way you work or the mediums you use?
CG My previous work as an embroidery has had a huge effect on my artistic practice, I drew floral pattern obsessively for 12 years which built up a visual language in my work - when I returned to drawing and painting I found that the floral element remained almost instinctively within the work, it seemed to make sense to combine the elements I was passionate about.
KS I also find it quite fascinating that you use liquids like tea, brandy and vodka in your art. I wouldn’t be able to resist drinking if I was working with those… Where did you get this idea from? Has anyone ever done this before? What effect does it render on the canvas?
CG I think it is quite a common practice in watercolour painting using alcohol such as vodka but it was something I stumbled upon in the studio. The alcohols and tea have a fascinating effect on the inks and I enjoy the chaos of working with unpredictable materials. Sure it's fun to be able to drink your art materials too - perks of the job!
KS How have you enjoyed working with Art on a Postcard?
CG Yes, it's a fantastic project - involving a huge range of incredible artists - and to see so many artists come together raising money for a great cause is inspiring.
About the writer
Katherine is 22 year old writer based in London. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is an advocate for anything made or done by women. If she’s not devouring books and drinking cups of strong black coffee in downward facing dog, she’s fighting the patriarchy through interviewing women artists or giving you her heartfelt feminist opinion. She believes that the key to life is to be constantly interested in the women around you, only when we are mesmerised by the existence of each other can we truly unleash our greatest human potential.