• Snail-w109-x-h76_5-x-d34cm
  • Beano-mutt-w59_5-x-h49-x-21_5cm
  • Woodpecker-2
  • Dinner-w53-x-h65-x-d72cm
  • Mr-vaccum-man
  • My-mutt-
  • Robin
Art

Richard Graham

Posted by Alex Bec,

To pick out shapes in clouds, or to find faces in manhole covers or lightswitches isn’t too unfamiliar to the creative eye. Richard Graham takes this notion of imaginative invention one step further, and calls it his art. His pieces are essentially assemblages of found items to create new forms and stories, often in the shape of animals. Pictured is Snail, made from an old bike wheel, an alarm clock and some scrap metal – why didn’t we think of that?

Hello Richard, your work looks pretty intruiging – can you tell us what it’s about?

Mainly my work is about seducing hot ladies, as they dig it big style. I’m joking! But then my work is about humour. It’s also that, and all the other feeling that ‘found objects’ can evoke. Nostalgia over the disregarded. The irony of it being newly found. Also if I am totally honest, I just like the creative process of making new things. I think that is the same for all artists. They make because they want to. I suppose I also like to think of my work as the by-product of my playing around. Like everyone, I get confused by those cliched questions ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what does it all mean?’. They’re churning around in my head everyday. Creating new ideas from objects adds clarity to my life – like I think it is a massive jigsaw puzzle and I’m pulling together the pieces. Connecting the dots.

How did you start making the work you do now – has it always come naturally to you?

I have always been artistic, I never intended to be an artist though. I was interested in art, but instead of going to art school I did a degree in history of art. When I graduated I helped curate and was part of exhibitions at 20 Hoxton square gallery and whilst I was doing that my nan died. I was looking through her old things, all this junk in the garage. I don’t like throwing things away – I’m a hoarder! – so I started playing with them in quite a prolific way. Maybe it was a way of dealing with that time in my life. But basically, through quite an organic process, I ended up making the work I’m doing now. So yes, it did come naturally to me.

The pieces have a real naive charm to them – are you still a kid at heart?

Definitely! People get annoyed and say “grow up”! Especially my younger brother. But its not a simple as that. Play isn’t a tangible thing and neither is the divide between being an adult and being a child. I really don’t see the point of separation. You could say “Oh childhood ends when we leave school or when we can legally vote or drink alcohol”, but you will always be your parent’s child. And likewise children can be incredibly responsible.

Historically too the definition of childhood has shifted many times – just check out the Museum of childhood in Bethnal Green, it is so interesting! So for me the division between ‘adult’ and ‘child’ is difficult to understand. I think it’s sad that some people seem to deliberately forget their ‘childhood self’ in order to define themselves as adults. I think it’s much more forfilling to see that “adult life” can be a huge playground too – especially in London! Picasso once said “every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up”. I think he was reminding us that play can be artful, like when children realize areas of life by playing war or play
pretending with toy prams. Continuing play in adulthood maintains a balance in our lives as it contributes to the continual widening of understanding and meaning. We are all constantly learning!"

What are you assembling at the moment?

Erm..too many things at once! One big thing I am making is Olivia the Owl. Her body is made from an old white bath, ironing boards as her wings, pram wheels as her eyes, garden forks as her feet and a yellow stiletto heel as her beak. I think I am going to put her in a tree somewhere.

Ab-300

Posted by Alex Bec

Alex is one of the directors of It’s Nice That who now oversees our sister creative agency INT Works. For several years he oversaw the Monday Morning Music Video feature until it came to an end in 2014.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List-ai-wei-wei-an-archive-its-nice-that-

    Ai Weiwei has printed five years worth of his many, many tweets onto rice paper to form a new piece called An Archive . The artist has long used Twitter as a platform from which to protest Chinese government oppression, leading to a ban from Chinese Twitter. In an interview with The Creator’s Project, Ai tells how the piece, which is formed of thousands of pieces of printed rice paper, showcases a time when he could use the social network for “discussions and memories of the past, as well as predictions for the future. Twitter was an exercise for the mind and one where you are fully exposed to the public."

  2. Royal_academy_summer_exhibition_poster_list

    I never thought I’d use the word irreverent to describe the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Since 1769 the RA has taken a fairly unwavering and conservative approach to the world’s largest open submission exhibition, hanging up to 1,000 works by both amateur artists and great names. Long the lacklustre foxhole of stuffy Academicians and part-time painters, this year marks the greatest effort the RA has made yet to reinvigorate the English summer stalwart.
     
    It’s no surprise that the man behind the brightest, boldest edition yet is Michael Craig-Martin, this year’s curator and the artist best known for his Pop Art palette and his tutorship of YBA trailblazers Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Among his modernisms for the show is the decision to repaint the three central galleries in colours lifted straight from his work: hot pink, turquoise and baby blue. Far from playing to mere spectacle, Craig-Martin’s trademark penchant for polychrome is a bold statement that does away with both the white cube mis-en-scène of contemporary art and the fusty grandeur of the Academy. Regular attendees might also notice he has made the print galleries more central.

  3. Jim_lambie_zobop_ra_it's_nice_that_list

    For this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Scottish artist Jim Lambie has transformed the storied art institution’s grand staircase with one of his kaleidoscopic floor installations and shaken up the English cultural calendar highlight. Using hundreds of strips of adhesive vinyl tape, Lambie’s eye-catching floor work follows the architecture of the Academy and is part of his ongoing series Zobop. The 2005 Turner Prize nominee’s slightly riotous, technicolour stairs breathe new life into the neo-classical space, and the optical effect packs huge impact, fittingly leading the way to the boldest, brightest edition of the Summer Exhibition in its nearly 250-year run.

  4. Nina-chanel-abney-its-nice-that-list

    The carnivalesque colours and vibrant busyness caught our eye in Nina Chanel’s work; her attitude and subject matter kept us looking. Nina is based in New Jersey, and uses bright brushstrokes and text to explore issues of race, politics, sex and the strange world of celebrity. How? Through a strange troupe of aliens, strange symbols and rainbow colours. Surrealism plays with pop art and high-brow plays with low-brow in her huge e-number fuelled pieces, which carry a depth belying their initially saccharine appearances.

  5. David-shrigley-football-mascot-its-nice-that-top

    David Shrigley has designed a rather strange mascot for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle. Shrigley – a fan of the team – was appointed to create the little yellow jagged character, named Kingsley, as part of the team’s new sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsford Capital. The artist also created the brand mark that will appear on Thistle kits and around its home stadium.

  6. Luis-vasallo-itsnicethat-list

    Life drawing classes are more often than not the conservative preserve of academic art, but Luis Vassallo’s nudes tell a different story. Luis’ series A Life Drawing Class, made as part of a collaboration with Hot and Cool magazine, is a refreshing take on a somewhat strait-laced tradition. Over the course of several weeks the Madrid-based artist transformed the models in front of him into adventurous images that juxtapose the classical with the surreal, mixing and matching a number of drawing styles – often in the same sketch – from hard-edged geometry and soft, rolling forms that alternate between clean pencil lines and those in thick jagged charcoal. Finding inspiration in the Italian avant garde and the 60s revival of figurative art, Luis is clear that his work is less about looking back and more about finding a way to pick up where these 20th Century movements left off. The results are unlike any nudes we’ve seen before.

  7. Jackson-pollock_-number-34-1949-its-nice-that-list

    As one of the most instantly recognisable modern artists and a GCSE art staple, it’s tempting to think there’s little we haven’t seen of Jackson Pollock’s work. A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, however, proves us wrong. The exhibition, entitled Blind Spots, is the first in more than 30 years to show his late black pouring works. Some we’ll know, many we won’t, but all prove – if proof were needed – what an important, inspirational figure Pollock was. He managed to bring tricky concepts of Abstract Expressionism into the minds of a far wider audience than the art world inner circle, and his works are surely some of the most oft-seen, yet never tiresome artworks of the last century.

  8. Matthew_craven_demiurge_it's_nice_that_list

    Matthew Craven’s dizzying mix of ink patterns, cut-outs and ancient culture is as powerful as it is studied. We’ve written about the New York artist’s vivid collages before, and in his most recent series demiURGE, Matthew pairs both tribal and Greek sculpture with his hand-drawn designs and recurring motifs. His images play with materials as much as they play with time, and with their lost relics and archeological curiosities it’s as if Matthew has picked through old history textbooks and back issues of National Geographic for the mystic effect that makes his work so instantly recognisable. Pairing busts, masks, vases and classical bric-a-brac with optical patterns, Matthew’s collages always prove greater than the sum of their parts.

  9. Richard_prince_new_portraits_it's_nice_that_list

    Richard Prince’s New Portraits have proven to be nothing short of sensational. The artist’s controversial series has seen him take other people’s Instagram posts, print them on six-foot canvases and sell them for up to $90,000. The only changes made to these images of everyone from Pamela Anderson to total unknowns are the bewildering or lewd remarks Prince adds to the comments thread. As of last Friday, ten of these new works are on show at Gagosian London. “The iPhone became my studio,” Prince says somewhere in the seven-page stream of consciousness that makes up the press release.

    For the last 40 years the New York artist has inspired everything from acclaim to outrage for the unapologetic appropriation that has defined much of his work. As the man who reprinted copies of JD Salinger’s classic teenage anthem Catcher in the Rye with his own name in place of the author’s, Prince has found himself on the wrong side of copyright lawsuits multiple times. Resulting opinions of him tend to violently swing between genius and good-for-nothing. In the case of the New Portraits series, Peter Schjeldahl writing for the New Yorker’s response to the screenshot-cum-paintings was “something like a wish to be dead,” whilst sex writer Karley Sciortino has said she felt honoured to be included in the series.

    In an unexpected but fitting turn, people seemed to feel slightly vindicated when some of Prince’s unauthorised Instagram reproductions were recently reproduced and resold by some of their original subjects, namely the LA-based group of alternative pin-up girls and burlesque dancers operating under the moniker SuicideGirls. “Payback!” headlines screamed, but this ceaseless loop of feedback and mirroring perfectly plays to Prince’s raison d’être. Even this is not the artist’s own, and in his ideas about enshrining banality and popular culture he is most definitely walking in Warhol’s slightly worn-out silver shoes.

    Mining the internet for source material is not new either, but as abhorrent as they may be, Prince’s portraits eloquently teach a powerful lesson in the trappings of social networking. They test public and private limits and have started an important and much-needed conversation about copyright and art in the digital age. They have also been sharp reminders that our self-exposure and digital exhibitionism doesn’t exist in the vacuums of our various feeds, but very much enters into public territory.

    The most absurd part in all of this postmodernist pageantry however, happened during my exchange with Gagosian’s PR when I asked for press images and was told, “I’m afraid that we don’t have permission to use any images of any individual works.” Irony is a beautiful, twisted thing.

  10. 9.koons_tulipanes-itsnicethat-list

    There’s been a lot of conversation in the studio recently about art exhibitions that beg to be photographed, and they don’t come much more Instagrammable than the Jeff Koons retrospective. Having started out at New York’s Whitney Museum and then progressing to Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the show has just begun the final leg of its journey at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, where we attended the opening last week; to take a selfie with the balloon dog, among other things.

  11. Carsten-holler-list

    Leafing through the Serious Art Critics’ reactions to Carsten Höller’s huge fairground of a show at the Hayward, I felt optimistic, smug even. “Old fuddy-duddies,” I thought. Yes, that’s it – they’ve forgotten how to have fun! Love-in, hippy me mulled over my kindly utopian ideas about how art should be democratic, how wonderful it is to have the wee kiddie-winks enjoying art just as us cerebral grown-ups can. Sadly, I’m now about to agree with the bunch. They’re not really just world-weary and po-faced, they’re right: the show’s really not all that after all.

  12. 8_red-with-red-1_2007_%c2%a9-2015-bridget-riley.-all-rights-reserved_-courtesy-karsten-schubert_-london-itsnicethat-list

    Bridget Riley’s work is utterly fascinating to me. Her enormous geometric canvases, ranging from illusory patterns to orderly explosions of colour have developed over the course of her career to create an extensive oeuvre exploring every dark corner of shape and form. Behind the expansive canvases lies a deeply methodical approach which, although invisible to the viewer, is the concrete foundation to her work, and in this new UK retrospective at the De La Warr Pavilion the accompanying studies will be displayed alongside the finished canvases. Spanning 50 years worth of her curve paintings and including more than 30 paintings and studies, it looks set to be a show to remember.

  13. Ema-itsnicethat-list

    Musician and multi-media artist EMA has launched a call-out to members of the public to send her their “sacred objects,” which she will digitally destroy as part of a performance piece called I Wanna Destroy (Sacred Objects from Suburban Homes). The piece will take place as part of her residency in Station to Station: A Three Day Happening at the Barbican this summer, and will take the form of an immersive performance and installation featuring music, visuals, and a virtual reality environment for Oculus Rift.