Puppets present ideas of the self at Artlink

Published: Monday 16th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Sculptor Brian Griffiths asked a group of his friends, family and colleagues to create a puppet of themselves.

The result? A fascinating show at Princes Avenue’s Artlink called So He Pulled the Right Levers and You Did the Asking. We caught up with the artist to find out more.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your exhibition at Artlink?

So He Pulled the Right Levers and You Did the Asking is a sculpture show of puppets or possibly puppets pretending to be sculptures. I invited a number of friends, family and colleagues, mostly real, to make puppets.

Each person has been asked to make a puppet of themselves – a self-portrait, a kind of impostor or impersonator, like all representations. It is a wonky, knotty show of objects pushed into a tableau of some over-dressed foyer greeting party.

What was the inspiration behind it?

There are many things that have helped to shape the show. I wanted to explore the way one self-presents in particular situations, the way we play numerous different roles in life and how pretending is a kind of realism.

I wanted to make a collection of sociable things that are contemporary curiosities, as well as bring people that I care about together to create a community – the show even includes my mum ,AKA Issy Brain. The exhibition shows the way in which we persistently use objects to tell stories about our culture, our cities and ourselves.

The space of Artlink and its function as an extraordinary community centre ties in perfectly with the exhibit. It has been brilliant to bring a number of exciting and successful artists back to Hull, where they studied, including Sally O’Reilly, Luke Gottelier, David Thorpe and Philip Evans.

And yourself, of course!

Yes, I studied painting at Humberside University in the early 1990s and started making objects after being at Goldsmiths College in London in 1996. So I have been thinking about things for over twenty years in different ways and for various situations.

Is there anything interesting that you’ve found about the way in which people see themselves?

The usual really… younger, slimmer and from that flattering side view. Also, very differently, the works vary in scale and size, from the camp to the absurd, the ornate to the staggeringly simple.

The project revealed that people think about themselves in a multitude of complex and contradictory ways. It shows how materials and visual languages come to reshape, and at times hijack, the ideas of the self.

This show embraces difference and lets it uncomfortably negotiate its place together… a bit like the A-Team or the Spice Girls or the present Government Cabinet.

Why should people come along to see it?

Because I am pulling the right levers, and, if you don’t come along, you won’t be able to do the asking.

So He Pulled the Right Levers and You Did the Asking is free to enter and will be displayed at Artlink until Thursday 14 December 2017.

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Published: Monday 16th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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