Graham Carter’s joyful prints reference many of the most loved images in modern culture: the characters from Star Wars or the eerie but manageable magic of Spirited Away. The artistic sensibilities stop these nostalgic influences from turning into twee: the gorgeously rendered digital art glows with vibrant colours and many of the works are made 3-dimensional with painstakingly applied wood veneers, or cut-out perspex shapes that lend shadows to a noir city scene.
This is the kind of art you’d love to have in your own house (I made enquiries! Prices average at around £150). The small details show wit and add a lovely personal feeling to the prints: a towerblock soars above a city landscape but is made friendly by a pair of eyes and a winning smile. When you spot a tiny figure peeping out of the digital grass you fall in love with the world in the picture. Each picture tells a story that you can imagine going on far beyond the edges of the frame, like that of the little girl and her huge Samurai friend, pictured below.
Amelia’s Magazine interviewed the artist to find out more.
AM: Tell me a bit more about the title of the exhibition, “East Meets West”.
GC: It was an intentionally open title really, to try and represent my current fascination with Eastern culture whilst also allowing me to continue experimenting with elements of early American design, which have been creeping into my work of late. I should point out that my work is never extensively researched (as you can probably tell) as I prefer to make things up – or put my own spin on things. The world as I would like it to be and not really how it is…
Towards the end of its development I wanted the show to almost be a kind of travel diary/scrapbook; a couple of recurring characters making their way from one city to the next (New York to Tokyo, via New Yokyo, a hybrid of the two). And in some pictures in the distance you can spot elements of previous images (something I always tend to do).
AM: You are obviously inspired by screen culture (especially Sci Fi!) Could you tell me about why these influences appeal to you? The original influences are quite tech-y and macho but your works are really whimsical and beautiful, they remind me more of Hayao Miyazaki than Michael Bay.
GC: I’ve always loved sci-fi films so I guess it was only a matter of time before elements crept into my work. It’s largely the machines that fascinate me rather than the action. My favourite parts of the film are usually when the protagonists are just sitting around/hiding/waiting inside their pods/spaceships without the stress of battle!
I have been watching a lot of Miyazaki of late. He and Wes Anderson are my favourite film makers as they have created their own little worlds that seem to make perfect sense despite all the unusual happenings on screen.
I’m also a sucker for a robot.
AM: Some of your works are printed on wood or made of inlaid wood. What is it about wood as a material that appeals to you? Is it very hard work getting the solid wood pieces manufactured? How are they made?
GC: A phase I am going through largely, but one I am constantly fascinated with. From getting one thing laser cut, it has opened me up into a whole new way of seeing my work and the possibilities are pretty huge.
The texture of wood appeals to me and also the ‘natural’ connotations. I love the idea that someone may have constructed a working robot from found wood for example. Wood also has that old-fashioned appeal. I’m more enamoured with the look of bygone toys and their clock-work components than anything sleek and soulless.
I worked with a company called Heritage Inlay on the laser cut images and the inlaid pieces. Usually I design them and they construct them. But in some cases I like to order the separate components and put them together myself as in the case of the 3 images composed of laser-cut perspex, silkscreen backing and screen-printed glass [see image below].
AM: I loved the perspex “landscape” pieces. Is it very different creating something 3D to making a print?
GC: I treat the process the same way as a 2D piece really. They all start out life as a digital layered file on my computer so I can see roughly how they will work. I’m never entirely sure how the 3D piece will work until I have a finished one, due to unforeseen elements such as shadows running over parts of the background print etc. That’s why I find it an exciting way to work.
Graham Carter@The Coningsby Gallery
August 31 – September 12
30 Tottenham Street , London, W1T 4RJ
If you’d like to see an online array of Carter’s works, investigate e-gallery Boxbird.
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