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Carne Griffiths at Debut Contemporary: A New Romantic

I've always been passionate about art - particularly drawing and later about raw creativity, outsider art etc.. After working 12 years as an embroidery designer I had a real burning desire to see where my own art would take me.

Carne Griffiths is a Romantic with a capital R. His unorthodox use of materials such as tea, alcohol and ink creates a language that talks directly to the heart. Layers and layers of pure beauty remind us of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their zest for life, abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions. His works unites grace and elegance. Griffiths has been part of Debut Art Incubator and exhibited at Debut Contemporary on many occasions while pursuing his career on an international scale.

Barrier by Carne Griffiths. Courtesy the artist.

Griffiths kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:

1. Can you tell us why you decided to become an artist?

I've always been passionate about art - particularly drawing and later about raw creativity, outsider art etc.. After working 12 years as an embroidery designer I had a real burning desire to see where my own art would take me. So I jacked in the 9-5 in favour of something that I had full control over. I suppose the short answer would be that I decided to be an artist for the journey or the discovery of what may happen.

2. Why do you use ink tea in your works?

I love line and am definitely a drawer not a painter... I had difficulties introducing colour to my work but discovered that using tea as a watercolour medium I was able to control my palette much better - it had a unifying effect. It also introduced a strong element of spontaneity and I enjoyed the balance of creating destroying and creating again - each time creating complex layers of texture.

3. Which artists are your main influences and why?

Wow lots of influences - sometimes I don't even realised I have been influenced by a particular artist until I recall a piece of their work later and see how it has influenced my own practice. I love the work of outsider artists Adolf Wolfli, Henry Darger and Scottie Wilson for their creative vision and raw output, William Morris for the flow of work and balance of negative positive space, and the work of the early surrealists - I loved the notions of drawing from the subconscious that they nurtured and the playful nature and approach to making art.

4. You collaborated with the photographer Rankin. Can you tell us what you enjoyed the most about the collaboration?

This was a great project - taking the vision of another creative and then being given the total creative freedom to translate their work into your own creation was an eye opener for me. I work with photographers to produce reference shots for my work but the project with Rankin was different - there was a strong narrative to the editorial shoot, and the individually images were so strong in terms of composition that I could allow myself to work in a very free spontaneous way. It was the first publication of my work and I was really grateful for the platform in Hunger Magazine

The Miracle by Carne Griffiths. Courtesy the artist.

5. What is your major achievement so far?

I think last year as a whole was a real achievement for me. Solo shows in UK, Milan and Hong Kong and group shows in Germany US Singapore and Hong Kong - it enabled me to travel with the work, and there was a constant level of energy applied to the work, and it really pushed the development of my drawing. Hong Kong was a real highlight, showing at Above Second with Coates and Scarry at both the beginning and the end of the year for me marked an incredible 2013.

6. What is your next project?

I am currently Planning a sculpture project that will collaborate with schools around Grizedale Sculpture Park. This will be in association with The Cumberland Pencil Company, Derwent - we will be installing wooden drawings in trees around the forest at the end of June - it's something very different and challenging and gives a great opportunity to be creative in a different medium. Following this will be a solo show with Ink-d gallery in Brighton opening in September - expect a brand new collection of works on wood paper and with light incorporating teas alcohols and embroidery thread... should be a lot of fun :)

7. In which ways being in Debut Contemporary has benefited you and your career?

It's important to organise your business practice and provide a firm foundation to develop your work. My time at Debut was hugely informative, and provided a base from which I was able to concentrate on a range of creative projects. I learnt that being a creative is about utilising your creativity in many different areas, becoming involved in voluntary projects whilst asserting the value and worth of your work as an artist, and learning to negotiate commissions and projects in a professional manner. Whilst at Debut I worked on projects in Hong Kong with both Joyce and Cle de Peau, and shortly after the Hunger magazine project with Rankin - having the backing of Debut at the time gave much more assurance in negotiating terms of use of artwork and legalities.

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