Founded in 2012, the Griffin Art Prize is annual exhibition and studio award for emerging artists in painting and drawing. The award includes a six-month residency and a solo exhibition at Griffin Gallery, London. Chudamani Clowes, the winner of the 2014 Griffin Art Prize, brings Susie Pentelow up to speed with her plans.
You have just been awarded the Griffin Art Prize, which grants you a six-month studio residency culminating in a solo exhibition in 2015. How is this award going to change and expand your practice?
Having just won the Griffin Art Prize I am feeling simply elated. I am ready to embrace all the new experiences and challenges ahead of me in my forthcoming residency. I am looking forward to using a wide range of products and having a studio in such an amazing location. I hope to form links with the community and draw on the rich multi-cultural heritage of the area. I am especially drawn to the Notting Hill Carnival which takes place every year and the outrageous, flamboyant costumes.
I know the residency will have a positive impact on my practice from the facilities and the incredible team who work at the Griffin Gallery who can provide expert knowledge in their various fields. I will be using all the spectacular museums in London from the British Museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum to aid my research.
Do you see any prominent trends in the development of your work in the last year? How do you see/foresee these feeding into your work for your exhibition?
I hope to open up my practice and become more experimental and adventurous. I really hope to grow in confidence and expertise. I wish to paint on fabrics and make paper costumes.
I am also working on performances and building giant books. In the last year, the prominent themes in my practice have been immigration, migration, and imperialism, especially British colonialism. I still wish to explore these themes and provide more of a global outlook to my work referencing issues from around the world. I would like to link historical events with what is happening in the news today. I’m finding that the theme of displacement is timeless.
In ‘Victorian Maritime flags for the heathen’ you have created your own alphabet, playing references to signs, signals, and semaphores. Does your work have its own semantic language?
In ‘The Victorian Maritime Flags for the Heathen’ I have created my own alphabet. I am intrigued by signs and signals especially ones that were used to run an Empire with so successfully. I decided to use the semaphores that already exist and change them by using Victorian people in the flags. I am creating my own semantic language however it can be read in a traditional way with the original signs still being present.
I would like my language to be easily deciphered and decoded.
I am a collagist, I love artists like Hannah Hoch. She was German and a Dadaist. I utilize and combine all sorts of materials together so I am open to using fabrics and ceramics. I am hands on and love building ceramic sculptures.
You employ materials such as fabrics and ceramic that keep us very aware of the artists’ touch. Can you talk a little about your attitude to craft?
I have immense respect for craft and the skills needed to create certain useful products. However, as an artist, I am subverting the clay and the medium of ceramics to make a statement. In my work, it has a different function to provoke concepts and debates. Also, I love embracing modern technology like Photoshop.
You take up residence in the Studio Building in March 2015. What does the interim period have in store for you?
I take up my residency in March 2015. In the interim period, I am doing all the groundwork to prepare myself. I am making a lot of lists and phone calls. I am researching and building up my own archive of the local area and its history as well as keeping up with current art shows. I am getting to know the incredible team at Griffin Gallery who are very friendly and welcoming.
The Griffin Art Prize 2014 Shortlist Exhibition will run until 19 December 2014 at Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ. For more information, visit http://griffingallery.co.uk.