Capturing the Moment

“We are moving too fast to notice how beautiful everything is,” says London-based artist Carne Griffiths

When did you first want to be an artist?
I loved drawing as a child, but when I was eleven we moved from New Zealand back to the UK, and the school I went to had no spaces left for me to do art. I think this fuelled the fire, being denied something I was passionate about at a young age meant I was more determined to make something of it.   

Why calligraphy illustration?
I used fountain pens throughout college. I like the immediacy of the line and also the interplay of drawing with writing. During college I became very interested in surrealist practices like automatic drawing. I kept numerous sketchbooks which I filled daily with rapid drawings and doodles. 

Can you elaborate on ‘the interplay of drawing with writing’?
Well, the more I drew, the more I started to develop a type of handwriting. A new language which I now use in quite a meditative way when working—elements of this can be found in most of my pieces. The writing focuses on muscle memory, and how, through repetition, new shapes can be added to our handwriting without thinking. 

Talk us through your creative process?
My work is based around impulse and is created with high energy, there's also a destructive layering process. I draw mainly using non-permanent inks. Throwing liquid such as teas and alcohol over it disturbs and erases this drawn line, leaving spontaneous patterns.

Teas and alcohol. How’d that happen?
There was an initial moment using brandy that started everything off in a painting called The Harvest. 

Why specifically brandy?
Actually, I use what is at hand and I’m continually experimenting, brandy and vodka are probably the most commonly used in my work.

We hope it’s not good stuff…
I have painting stock and drinking stock very clearly separated!

How has your work evolved over the years?
I guess from simple line drawings to pictures with earthy colour palettes and layers of marks, to more recent pieces using pigment and vivid colour.  Portraiture has been a focus throughout, and nature has always had a strong influence. 

What do you hope people feel when they look at your works?
A form of escape. I want to transport the viewer into a world that I am creating and one that is constantly evolving. Being an artist is a journey, and the best thing about this journey is that people can follow as closely or loosely as they want. 

You live in London. Where do you find inspiration there?
I currently work between London and South East England. London has an energy and vibrancy that gives an electric spark to my work, even when working on floral pieces. 

What art movement do you draw the most inspiration from?
Definitely early Surrealism, the period where much was attributed to chance, the unconscious mind, and experiments with the automatic process. I find the writings and drawings from this period hugely inspiring.

What’s your studio like?
My studio has beautiful light. It's a large warehouse building divided into artist spaces. I am currently arranging the space to hang some of my work. I dedicate days for an open studio so people can visit while I am working. I like the interaction between the creative process and the observer. 

Do you play music, or have any peculiar habits when working?
I always have music playing, I'm really fortunate to have a great friendship with DJ Ben Mynott. I follow his mixes and they inspire a lot of my work, there is a similar feeling of a journey with a mix of tracks that fits with my artistic process.  

Do you drink wine? Or paint with it?
Wine is for drinking definitely, it's the perfect accompaniment to painting but it's not much of a painting material. 

Where do you go or what do you do if you’re in a creative funk?
Exercise is always good. A run or cycle will help to clear my mind. I've found that a fitter state of being gives a sharper creative mind and a higher level of energy.

Tell us about the hummingbird?
Perfectly still. Something that moves so fast and defies examination is all the more poignant when captured in a single moment. This is the ethos behind my latest solo show. That we are moving too fast to notice how beautiful everything is around us. If we could stop time for a second we could take time to indulge and appreciate beauty without distraction. 

Artworks listed: Perfectly Still, Neon Tears, A Little Piece of Peace & Quiet.

To find out more go to www.carnegriffiths.com or email carne@carnegriffiths.com