Brian Griffiths talks about the multitude of objects he collects and creates with in a tour of his London studio.
The British artist creates magical, sculptural utopias out of the debris of everyday life, using materials such as old ceramics, furniture, toys and textbooks. Always using objects as a starting point for his work, Griffiths discuss how the act of collecting leads to the point where you can ‘start to look at the strangeness of objects in the world, which you don’t usually notice because it’s a noisy place’.
I think of making sculpture and installations as almost like a dress-up box of wearing different sorts of skins, and different sorts of languages.
In the studio I spend a lot of time tinkering and experimenting, and collecting and sorting. How I come to make sculptures and put together installations is always to do with the objects. We make ourselves and we remake ourselves via the objects we surround ourselves with, so I collect objects, and they become a, sort of material fact to start from. Most of my work are assemblages – a clown’s head, sand, and a vase and basically, I collect loads of clowns and I collect loads of vases, and then I try and put them together in a very sympathetic way. But everything I do is always really about artificiality, like the clown is the nearest you get to an artificial person. So I collected that not knowing why. So I have loads of collections I can show you, actually.
Collections are really always key, and it’s via collecting that you start to build up a, sort of, classification system, or you start to look at the strangeness of some objects in the world, which you don’t usually notice, because the world is a noisy place. So a lot of the work is made from found objects, but also, I do fabricate things which appear to be found.
So the fabricated objects are almost like method actors; they are doing it really well. But on closer inspection, they do fall apart. Things stop, resist, collapse, fracture. The badges on the back are just travel badges. They become souvenirs of a fabricated history. I want something which has a, sort of, overblown theatrical pathos, a need to make, like, a shell or a container for the surface to be incredibly thin, to somehow direct you to walk round it, to find a way in. With most objects, we look through it, and then we look through it to talk about subjects, and above any of the subjects, basically we talk about ourselves – yeah.