Interview: Garth Gratrix

Local artist Garth Gratrix recently took the time to answer some of my questions about his art practice:

Who are you and what do you do?

I have blossomed into a semi-beautiful and experimental Artist. My work responds to circumstances with a sense of curiosity and abandonment- meaning I am both confined by and inspired by those ‘things’ around me. The results can be one thing or many; usually the later as I am intrigued by an ongoing sense of retrospective within my body of work. Sculptural installations using household objects and/or discarded furniture, surreal/real illustrative paintings, real time video and semi-performative pieces are all avenues from which I enquire and explore my surroundings. I have experience in utilising these all within commissioned projects, both private and public sector community projects.

I am self-employed whilst also working in Blackpool at FYCreatives.garth painting

What’s your background?

Before ‘blossoming’ I began a nursing degree at St Martins, Lancaster. After a bed pan seminar I quit to work in retail whilst going back to study art Foundation in Blackpool. After my distinction I then went to study my Fine Arts Degree. Originally enrolled at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 2003, I then swiftly moved back in support of family and financial circumstances. I then completed my degree with First Class honours at U.C.L.A.N in 2006. I stayed in Preston a further 5 years; 1 year spent as a manager in retail followed by 4 years acting as lead artist for arts organisation, Bluestreak Arts- devising and delivering mixed media arts projects. This allowed me to explore more theatrical collaborations with actors and other practitioners with different approaches to ‘art’, which was great! However, it was not as free as I wanted ‘my’ own arts practice to be. After a final year with the company running a small independent gallery space in Preston Centre, I then took my engagement ring off, left the Veuve Clicquot lifestyle behind and moved back to Blackpool in 2009 with £1,000 to live off indefinitely. I got a little flat which doubled as a studio for me to work in where I started to make work which would fit in things I could carry- in my case – I was interested in vintage leather suitcases. With money running out I was applying for at least 10 arts commissions and opportunities a week whilst thinking of ways to ‘commercialise’ my work (which still brings me out in hives).

Tell us about the work currently in the Caffe Dolce show?

The 2 metre tall painting was the first of its kind and was created at a point in which I had little space to work (other than what I could prop against a wall). I am drawn to monotony and repetition when I consider the ‘home’ as a reference in my work. As my work mainly takes interior furnishings and displays them in a exterior environment I wanted something that paid reference to these other works whilst being considered in a more traditional white cube setting. I think of these ‘doodles’ as a way to document and re-invent previous experiments in my work, whilst allowing my own head to be less burdened and more playful when thinking of new compositions and objet d’art. Quite literally I am extracting the annoying and sometimes blurred thoughts out of my head and putting them onto ‘paper’. To give them more credit than just brain farts, I then consider scale as a means to emote a response from the viewer, as the bigger they are, the more involved you are made to be. I like to think of the works as realms for re-invention or perhaps reintroduction to what we see and understand in everyday. The continuous flow of line which fills the space of the canvas becomes an object in its own right and effects the eyes encountering of ‘the object’ as a whole. I enjoy the quiet chore which I associate with the production of these paintings, whilst almost mapping my current personal, physically and psychological geography and state of mind.

Other work of this style has included a floor based painting which was a large scale replica of the living space in which I produced the painting in Dolce.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

WOW, Huh?, Ok’s that big!, That must have taken you ages!, How Much?

I had a genuine response from a personal friend of mine, a theatre director with an interest in science, who found great interest and reference to the notion of String Theory, which in its simplest explanation, implies that all things are connected by invisible or sometimes visible spectrums and or ‘strings’. She says that when she looks at my paintings, she is reminded of the curiosity which the world brings to us each day. I was flattered by this as my ambition for any of my work is for people to be made curious by it, reconsider space- how they see it and engage with it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“If you sell it great! If you don’t then think, I didn’t make it for the money in the first place.” – Me

“I don’t get art, but I know you are only happy when doing it.” – Mum

“You are famous, it’s just nobody knows it yet.” -Dad

“You are meant to do this, so find the best way to be happy in it.” – Sis

“Poor is the man whose pleasure depends upon permission from another.” – Madonna

“Don’t ever stop to think that art is one thing. Art is not a bus stop in which you wait for transportation. It is the hands that build your own road.” – Tutor#1

“Your art is like spaghetti junction, but you always find a way to unite it in some way for us.” – Tutor #2

Professionally, what’s your goal?

To continue to challenge my own expectations as I produce curious and interesting ‘things’ for people to witness or stumble across. If this leads to a Tate retrospective, I would not say no, however anything I do depends on time, space and inspirations at the time. I would like to experiment more with video, performance and dance work in future collaborations.

Garth currently has work on display at the Caffe Dolce Christmas Exhibition until January 2013. He is happy to discuss potential commissions, consultation work and collaboration opportunities. You can contact Garth via email, Like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter: @garthgratrix 

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  • Show Comments (1)

  • Terry Uncle

    Well done! Very interesting,what a character.

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