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The Automatic Drawing of Carne Griffiths

  • 3 min read

Carne Griffiths’ artwork is an unusual style that is created using not just calligraphy ink and graphite but all sorts of other liquids such as tea, brandy and vodka. His method is free-flowing and the forms that take shape appear to emerge from the floral patterns that surround them.

His delicate and expressive prints are very much born of the process that created them. Having worked as a gold wire embroidery designer for 12 years, floral pattern, repetition and flow play a large part in his work.

As an artist he explores the ideas of automatic drawing that was started by the Surrealists as a means of expressing the subconscious. It was championed in the 1920s by Andre Masson but whereas with the Surrealists it led to the abandoning of representation, Griffiths’ work still has a very strong representational element to it, but it has retained the fluidity of expression. The theory applies the use of chance and accident; drawing is freed from the usual rational control. He draws then manipulates the drawn line; he is concerned more with the process of drawing than with creating a finished image in an attempt to bypass all conscious thought.

He states “I work at great speed making good use of chance and accidents, sometimes when you are precious and try to recreate a style or a piece that is when things become stale. That's why I like my style to be in a constant state of flux “

We might not be having the weather for it but In Spring has been recently released as a print to celebrate the arrival of spring and change of season. Originally created for fashion brand JOYCE the print is available in a nice low edition of 25 and is so far proving very popular. Focussing on the drawn line and ranging from abstract marks to anatomical drawings, always in fountain pen ink and light washes, he depicts an androgynous world with personal symbolism. Carne Griffiths’ images explore both human and floral forms, figuratively and in an abstract sense.

Griffiths is fascinated by the flow of line and the ‘invisible lines’ that connect us to the natural world. These may be considered lines of energy or spiritual connections between ourselves and our surroundings and his work is often an emotional response to images and situations encountered in daily life. These daily images are recorded in a dream like sense onto the page where physical boundaries are no longer important. His work takes us on a journey of escapism, often focusing on scenes of awe and wonderment, they offer a sense of abandonment to the artist and to the viewer an invitation to share and explore this inner realm.

The violence of flowers series explores our relationship with nature further. It draws an analogy between our darker side and the deception and violence inherent in the plant kingdom that is often masked by their beauty. And the Harvest collection, which features Rose, references the work of old masters and explores the freedom of the drawn line. There is a desire to return to nature and the simpler things in life within this series, yet within the flowing lines of foliage the chaos of everyday life pervades.

Born in Liverpool in 1973, Griffiths studied Illustration at Maidstone College of Art in 1992 and after graduating was made a fellow of the college in 1995 with contemporary Dan Baldwin. He lives and works in London and has more recently been working with the photographer Rankin for a commission for Hunger magazine.

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