Find out more about Carne Griffiths and his beautifully original style in our Q&A session with him.
What or who are the main inspirations behind your work?
A desire to explore through drawing and daily visual inspirations is generally what informs my work. I take a lot of inspiration from nature, natural forms, and have researched sacred geometry. Some of the work focuses on chaos and order, I suppose it is an analogy for both the subject and the process of what I do. There is a lot of destroying, involving chance and then rebuilding that goes on within each piece of work.
How do you approach the actual making of a piece?
Quite often starting with portraiture, I use it as an anchor to then allow the drawing to build itself. Many of the pieces I create convey a feeling of awe or wonderment. I try and draw the viewer into the portrait and not just through the surface of the work. My constant aim is to lose myself in the process of creating. If I can be totally unaware of large sections of the work I am creating then I consider that a successful part of the process.
What’s your medium?
I work with ink and liquids, mainly tea but sometimes with alcohol too.
What are you currently working on?
I am working towards a series of portraits which look at ancestry, genetics, heritage … that kind of thing. I have a new visual symbol that has crept into the work over time and I want to explore ways to use it. It’s interesting how things appear during the drawing process, I am often fascinated by the way people habitually doodle when they are on the phone, they invent a library of shapes and symbols that have a lot more to do with the unconscious mind than they do with the conscious. I suppose I am trying to balance the two in my work.
What themes do you pursue?
Nature is the thing I return to over and over again - particularly floral forms.
Does the impact of the viewer influence your work and if so how?
Interaction with the viewer is a huge part of the work for me, as is sharing the process and the journey of creating work. Primarily my work is a personal exploration, but it is important that it connects not only with me but in some way with the viewer. I suppose the thing that I hold back on with the work is a more abstract exploration of the line.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I am constantly driven forward by the response to my drawings, and it doesn’t really matter where this comes from. I feel that there are parts of the work I create that connect with different people, and in different ways, it is a consequence of making the work rather than something I set out to achieve, but I believe that if there is a tiny part of the work that comes from the unconscious, then this is what people are able to tap in to.
Describe an average day for you.
My days are usually split between studio time and local arts projects. The studios I am based in have just brought together an exhibition of 35 artists in the common parts of the building, I enjoy co-ordinating these kinds of events. It’s always great to see a show come together quickly in this way and to use the energy of the artists involved.
What led you to become an artist?
A burning desire to find out what was inside, I had worked for 12 years as an embroidery designer - drawing every day, but wanted to know what a year’s worth of work would look like and where it would take me. After a year, I now wonder what is possible with a lifetime’s work, it’s the journey of work that I find the most intriguing and how it aligns to life.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I served a 2 year apprenticeship as an embroidery designer followed by 10 years working my way up to the position of creative director, most importantly I was drawing every day. When you took all the admin away and the, management of orders, and design on computer it was perfect! I have always kept up to speed with technology, I did an MCP after leaving college and have always believed it to be necessary to keep an eye on what is going on in the digital world. Creatively though I am very traditional although this may change in the future.
What makes you angry?
A day of being unable to draw
When are you happiest?
When I am lost in the work
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
What superpower would you have and why?
Invisibility - I could work anywhere without distraction, the studio can be a pretty lonely place. To be able to lose yourself in the company of others would be an amazing thing.
In another life (if you weren’t an artist) what would you be doing?
I would be a scientist, maybe discovering something extraordinarily small that would make a huge difference to the world.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to and why.
Andre Masson, Antonin Artaud, Henry Darger. They each have a unique personal world, both beautiful and destructive, but honest. I would be happy to be compared to any or all of these artists.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To follow your dreams.