Carne Griffiths

 

BIOGRAPHY

Originally from Liverpool, Griffiths graduated from the Kent Institute of Art and Design in Maidstone in 1995. After completing a one-year KIAD fellowship and moving to London he served an apprenticeship at the longest-established gold wire embroidery firm in the world. Here he worked as a gold wire embroidery designer for twelve years, eventually becoming the creative director. Carne produced intricate designs for the military and the film, theatre, fashion and advertising industries. His designs were used for the uniforms in the films Valkyrie, The Last King of Scotland, and in particular his ‘Red Death Coat’ was used in The Phantom of the Opera. Carne’s elaborate floral designs for Asprey were included in their first ever catwalk collection and his work was featured on the embroidered cover of the 80th Royal Variety Performance programme in 2008.

 

Carne works primarily with calligraphy inks, graphite and liquids, such as tea, brandy and vodka. Griffith masters and is fascinated by drawing, craftsmanship and the ‘manipulation of the drawn line’, as he puts it. The artist likes to explore human, geometric and floral forms alike, combining reality with a dreamlike interpretation of situations encountered in daily life.

 

Since establishing his own studio in 2010, Carne has exhibited in numerous venues both in the UK and abroad.

 

EXHIBITIONS

2018

Moniker Art Fair, New York - May 3rd - 6th

White + Black, Group show, Whistleblower Gallery, Brighton

Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London

Hendrick Gallery, Group show, Eddie Lock Gallery and Beautiful Crime, Mayfair, London

2017

Here we go! Group show, Whistleblower Gallery, Brighton

Flight - Solo Exhibition, West Contemporary, Capital Club Dubai

ING Discerning Eye Mall Galleries - Winner of the Meynell Fenton Prize

Encounters - Solo Print Exhibition, Quirky Fox Gallery Hawera New Zealand

Affordable Art Fair, Only Art Club, Hamburg

Moniker Art Fair - J G Contemporary, London

Semblance - Group exhibition Well Hung Gallery, London

Faces of the Community Mural Project - Creative Devuts, London

Urban in Ibiza, Westbank Gallery, Ibiza

Summer Showcase, Creative Debuts, London

Henley Festival, The Lock Up / Beautiful Crime, Henley-on-Thames

Relinquished - Solo Exhibition, Westbank Gallery, London

Elements, Quirky Fox Gallery, New Zealand

Division, Ben Oakley Gallery, London

Art Below Summer Show, Rose and King Galleries Mayfair, London

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong, Eyestorm, Hong Kong

Morphosis Group Show, West Contemporary, London

Just Face It, Only Art Club, Hamburg

2016

Big Bang, Westbank Gallery, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London, UK

Loved to Death, Group Show, Leontia Gallery, London, UK

Make a Better World, Cello Factory, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, China

Thirteen, The Circle, Soho, London, UK

Loved to Death, White Conduit Projects/Leontia Gallery, London, UK 

Face, Gallery Different London, UK

Queen Themed, Group Show The Tabernacle, London, UK

Momentary, Solo Exhibition, Lilford Gallery, Folkestone, UK

 

2015 

Art Heist, Hatton Garden, London, UK

Moniker Art Fair, Truman Brewery, London, UK

Latitude Festival, Suffolk, UK

Henley Festival, Live Painting, Henley, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead, London, UK

See Art Fair, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Consume, Leontia Gallery, Shoreditch, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, China

Love Art Fair, Toronto, Canada

Affordable Art Fair, New York, USA

Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London, UK

Remember, Charity Exhibition at Fabric, London, UK

London Art Fair, Islington, London, UK

 

2014 

Moniker Art Fair, Truman Brewery, London, UK

Origins, Solo Exhibition, ink_d gallery, Brighton, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Mexico City, Mexico

Affordable Art Fair, De Overkant, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Affordable Art Fair, New York, USA

Mix - Group Show, Lawrence Alkin Gallery, London, UK

See Art Fair, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead, London, UK

Horn of Plenty, Group Show, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, China

London Art Fair, London, UK

 

2013

Invisible Lines, Solo Exhibition, Above Second Gallery, Hong Kong, China

Sanguine, Group Exhibition, Elizabeth Weinstock, Los Angeles, USA

Art Guitars, West London Art Factory, London, UK

Moniker Art Fair, London, UK

Marty, Joint Exhibition, Ben Oakley Gallery, London, UK

Memorabilia, Group Exhibition, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead, London, UK

Star Walls, Group Exhibition, The Stone Space, London, UK

You've been framed, Group exhibition W3 gallery, London, UK

Greenage, Solo Exhibition, 1380 Tradicionatta, Milan, Italy

Stroke Urban Art Fair, Praterinsel, Munich, Germany

Solo Exhibition, Ashdown Gallery, Forest Row, UK

Fig Group exhibition, Vyner Street, London, UK

Joss Searchlight, Charity Exhibition, London, UK

Trailblazers, Group Exhibition, Above Second Gallery, Hong Kong, China

London Art Fair, ink_d gallery, London, UK

 

2012

Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London, UK

The Wing Assignment, Red Bull studios, London, UK

Fragments, Solo exhibition, ink_d gallery, Brighton, UK

Eden, Solo exhibition/Installation, The Stone Space, London, UK

Art For Hearts Sake, Charity Auction, London, UK

London Art Fair, London, UK

 

2011 

Journey, Solo Exhibition, Gallery 90, London, UK

Urban in Ibiza, Atzaró, Ibiza, Spain

Old Boots New Laces, Group Exhibition, Truman Building Brick Lane, London, UK

Contemporary Romantics, Group Exhibition, Degree Art Gallery, Vyner St, London, UK

Guilty Pleasures and Modern Vices, Group Exhibition, Brick Lane, London, UK

Sorted, Group Exhibition, Brick Lane, London, UK

London Original Print Fair, Royal Academy, London, UK

New in Old Out, Group Exhibition, ink_d gallery, Brighton, UK

London Art Fair, Islington, London, UK

 

2010 

100sqft, Group Exhibition, London, UK

Arts After Dark, New Orleans, USA

100sqft 5, New Orleans, USA

Send Me A Postcard Darling, Brixton, London, UK

Inspired by Morris, Group Exhibition, William Morris Gallery, London, UK

Dissenters Chapel, London, UK

AVAILABLE WORK

 

We sometimes have other available works by Carne Griffiths, or can accept commissions. Please get in touch if you want to know more.

INTERVIEW

A conversation with Carne Griffiths

by Dan Hipkin

You graduated from the Kent Institute of Art and Design in 1995…

 

Yes, that seems like ages ago! I went there to do Illustration. I’m from Liverpool, travelled down south, away from home, to explore my drawing, really.

 

Was drawing your preferred medium then?

 

Yes, I was recommended drawing by a life-drawing tutor. I was at Hugh Baird College doing my Foundation, really enjoying drawing and particularly graphite work, and he suggested I should have a look at Maidstone (University) because they had a particular focus on that medium. Other than that, I had no idea what direction I wanted to take… I didn’t really have a particular drawing style at the time. I just loved drawing. From an academic point of view, I was interested in recreating and rendering things accurately but my interest was really piqued by this guy and his approach to drawing.

 

He was really interested in energy, different approaches, the whole school of Giacometti, drawing left-handedly, you know, all of that. So I ended up in Maidstone. My first year there was awful though. I couldn’t find my feet at all, just kind of floundered… but on my second year I discovered animators Brothers Quay, a fantastic duo of artists who do stop-motion animation. Their approach to creating this unique world in their head and then make it real was incredible… that kind of opened many doors for me and, in a way, redefined what I thought art was all about.

Had you kept to a figurative body of work then?

 

Yes, very much so, but everything I liked at the time, you know, graphic novel, surrealism practice, connections between the sub-conscience and drawing, spontaneity, and basically the value of those things that weren’t connected to academic aspects, really influenced me. I started to discover that creativity was, really, approaching things in completely free and unexpected ways, while allowing yourself to be as lucid as possible at the same time.

 

So that opened you up in a way?

 

Absolutely. That changed everything. It turned from, you know, being in my first year at college, not getting anything, getting frustrated… to things really taking off on my second year. I still followed some of the academic approaches but my work started to become more soulful, more honest. I started to combine all of my interests outside of art and I think that was the key of when I first got really excited about drawing and painting.

 

I started keeping sketchbooks of automatic writing, I worked out my own language of writing, became interested in muscle memory… things like that. I predominantly worked with two Dinosaur fountain pens that I’d bought from the college shop. That was the most minimal way of working. I just wanted something that was really understated… for me it was about the immediacy of drawing.

 

I took away the ability to erase, I was making loads of continuous drawings at the time, looking at the path that they would take, noticing where they would go between points while I was making marks, and I stuck with that. I drew in blue and sepia inks only and that developed my style. I graduated making those drawings: simple blue and brown works on paper with washes of plain water.

'I took away the ability to erase.'

Was that a solitary experience or did you have other people around, other students perhaps, that you could sort of identify with?

 

Oh yeah, we were a very close-knit group. We all had the energy in common, there was a bit of competition, but it was healthy competition, people took genuine interest in what other artists were doing… but there was no kind of house-style or anything. We all were pretty much focused on what we were doing. It was an active, busy and noisy studio, and everybody thrived in it. There was very little about it that felt like college. It was more like a creative sort of space where people were very passionate about what they were doing.

 

After you left college, you became an embroiderer at the longest-established gold wire embroidery firm in the world, M. Hand and Company (later to become Hand & Lock). What was it like working there?

 

It was an amazing experience. The firm had been running since 1767, right in the heart of Soho. Before I worked with them I was working with a trimmings company in East London, doing data entry. The company I was working for at the time was looking to buy Hand and Company, the owners were retiring and so I was sent over to meet the head draughtsman. He’d been working there for over 50 years. So I talked about drawings and he showed me this incredible body of work, designs for embroidery work that span 50 years… all carefully archived, kept in brown paper envelopes, organized alphabetically in drawers, it was amazing. The deal between the two companies didn’t go through, the company was bought out by someone else, and when that happened, the draughtsman I’d met put my name forward so they offered me to work with them on a kind of apprenticeship basis.

How do you think your job as embroiderer influenced your current work?

 

Well, I learned how to design for gold wire embroidery. I had to learn all the logistics of it. I had never picked up a needle in my life! By the end of my time there I had been drawing every day for 12 years.

 

If you look at the drawings I do now and those moments of patience working with floral details, all of that comes from the discipline I acquired then. I really enjoyed drawing every day. Most of the jobs that I would draw looked to find a shape and find a flow of line, and that was a really important part of the job. If you work with a tailor on a dress or a garment, then you have to look for a line that runs through that garment, something that is kind of elegant and balanced, and you always have to be looking at positive and negative spaces. That was all new to me and it taught me many things.

 

That’s interesting because you were working with three-dimensional things and planning out, I suppose, how your work would wrap.

 

Indeed. You would get all the pieces from the tailor and have to envision how they would look together, you would then try to look for the flow and to envision how this would end up looking as a three-dimensional object. There were really interesting and challenging aspects of working there.

 

What was it like when you saw your first garment or your first embroidery? Do you remember that?

 

Oh, absolutely. That was a real buzz. I think the biggest impact was doing the gold wire embroidery for the State opening at Parliament. It was a fully embroidered jacket. To be able to see it finished and in movement was amazing… but it was also a frustration because I felt so removed from the finished product. And I think that that ended up being one of my frustrations of working there: not having much control over the finished product.

 

For every piece that I loved, there were also pieces that frustrated me because the tiny details weren’t as I would have wanted them to be. You know, you often got six or seven people working on one piece. All those individual personalities and quirks forming part of a single item. At that time I started to wonder what would happen if I had full control of one piece, full control over the process.

 

I think it was then that I started to look back at my drawings from college and thought I needed to go back to that. So I organized my exhibition. I created a body of work very quickly and returned to the brown and blue ink drawings. But this time they were totally different. That’s when I broke away.

'Working in embroidery was a real buzz. But for every piece that I loved, there were pieces that frustrated me.'

You like working with materials such as calligraphy inks, graphite, brandy, tea and vodka. When did you start experimenting with these materials?

 

I like the process of experimenting with art and materials very much, following ideas, you know. I always try to keep myself as open as possible to experimentation, to outside influences, accidents, spontaneous things.

 

The inclusion of brews within the work started simply by dipping my brushes into brandy. There was that first moment when I thought, oh that’s interesting… Brandy did something really strange to the ink, it created this kind of patternation … I thought, that’s really nice. Then I tried to recreate that without using brandy. I thought, maybe I can do that with tea, so I prepared some weak tea and got really interesting results. What happened was that I started to mix the blue and brown inks I had always worked with with these new liquids that created an interesting look. I had always had a bit of a colour phobia so working with tea kind of extended the tonal values I was using without going for full colour, it gave me an earthier version of the blue I was so used to. It also gave me a kind of confidence away from working with only the inks I was used to. Generally I like materials that allow you to be spontaneous, I prefer graphite to charcoal because it has a real physicality to it. And I like the combination of those aggressive, visceral marks next to delicate lines. And that’s what I like about creating the artwork too: to have those two facets on the page together.

 

Are you keen to explore other mediums or methods?

 

Oh, yeah… I’ve always worked with translucent materials and in my last body of work I started to introduce some pigments and opaque tones. That’s kind of where I am right now… you know, trying to find a way to introduce a different type of layer onto the work.

 

I’m currently looking for a medium that will bridge from where I am to oil painting. I would like to include the sort of delicacy of fountain pen work alongside paint used in much the same way as I handle graphite.

 

You have said you are fascinated by the manipulation of the drawn line. Could you talk about this concept?

 

When I started using fountain pens I really liked the fact that you couldn’t hide anything, everything you did was there. But as I started working with liquids and teas, I realized there was a value in destroying that line, you know, manipulating it. Being able to pour boiling water on it, to loose control over it, and then to regain that control again… I found that very interesting. I like the process of creating and destroying. When you have a strong graphite line and you break it, it does something, it takes it somewhere else, the work becomes all about movement. I like that kind of energy and balance in a composition, creating something that is very, very definite and then almost erasing it. I’m seeking to be able to do that with paint as well.

'I'm currently looking for a medium that will bridge from where I am, to oil painting, with the delicacy of fountain pen work.'

You set up your studio in 2010. When did you see the need to do this and has your practice changed since then?

 

Well, I rented the studio because I was planning on making a year’s work. I needed to have a space outside the home, you know, I was looking for a space where I could just create. I could be a lot freer here.

 

And yes, it has definitely helped my practice. It’s a 24 hour access studio so I can come at different times of the day or night to work and that’s a really nice feeling to have. Here I’m not set back by anything.

 

What are you currently working on?

 

I’ve just finished completing a whole body of work for a collection so now I’m concentrating on working with paint and a possible move onto canvas. This is something I tried last summer and it didn’t quite work although I was very happy with the end result…

 

That was an amazing painting…

 

Thank you. The process is so far removed from where my current practice is and last summer I found there were things that I couldn’t do… so I’m trying to revisit that, back to experimenting with materials, and to finding a balance between those two points, so I’m probably looking to create a range of simple, experimental portraits, that involve the use of acrylics but still balanced with the other materials, still playing around with liquids, still using calligraphy methods, and still looking to layering up on a canvas as well. I don’t want to think about it too hard because I want it to find its own place but I’m now ready to revisit those ideas.

 

I look forward to seeing that process.

      

Thank you, Dan.

Interview, photography and design © by Whistleblower Gallery, 2016. All rights reserved.

If you wish to purchase any work by Carne Griffiths, please visit our shop.

 
 

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