Artist Biography - Michele Griffiths
Michele Griffiths is a British artist, born in 1951 in London.
Although first pushed into an academic career - studying languages and social and cultural studies at Cambridge and then Chelsea College London, her determination to make Art her life won out and she went on to study Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art. Here she learned to develop her own unique voice as an ...abstract artist, subsequently painting full time.
Michele Griffiths has gained considerable recognition during her career. She recently completed a major commission of 12 large oil on canvas paintings for the restaurant on the top deck of P&O’s cruise liner, Britannia. She has exhibited at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and The Discerning Eye in central London.
In 2018 she was invited to exhibit in “2018 Spot the Artist” Porthmeor Studios, St Ives, took part in the Hampstead Affordable Art Fair, and the London Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park.
Artist’s Statement September 2017
“Gold in the Mud”
When you first look at a stranger, you tend to see only their main features. So it is with my work: the initial response will be to the colour, composition and texture. But look more closely, “get to know” the particular piece, and you will see countless marks and ciphers scored into the surface. As with experiences that shape a life, these range from random to deliberate, half obliterated (discarded/forgotten) to more obvious and indelible (retained/remembered).
There are initials and dates, as written by people on walls throughout the ages. I have been recording old graffiti in different countries for many years, moved and inspired by the way they provide such a personal connection with the hand of whoever made them and such a direct link with the past. The 18th century equivalents of “I was here” can be seen in our village church. There are also crosses inscribed on a pillar, thought to have been made by Crusaders.
My ways of working with what I call “Wall Fragments” are constantly evolving, most recently incorporating chalk in the ground, which makes it easier to inscribe than plaster on its own. I collect lumps of chalk from the South Downs nearby and grind them to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
The “Wall” concept first came from looking at ancient walls in old Greek villages which are annually whitewashed but still bear the imprints of the passing years. This has become for me an apt and meaningful metaphor for the way life marks, and sometimes scars, us. We continually remember and forget but some things never go away. I use my artistic experience and intuition to tease out the right composition and create a unique beauty from what I see before me, however rough, misshapen and unpromising it may at first appear. To quote Baudelaire; “I seek gold in the mud”.
Analysing the Concept of Surface Griffiths’ work explores ‘surface’ in two distinct ways. The works on canvas evoke light on the surface of the sea, conveying the calming reflections and rhythms of the lapping waves. Her works on plaster are surfaces in their own right; each like a fragment of a time-worn wall, scored repeatedly with lines, marks and graffiti.
Achieving her Desired Texture Griffiths builds up the texture of her surfaces in layers, replicating the patina of age by inscribing lines and ciphers, and overpainting again and again. This process is reminiscent of imprints of experience and loss, the workings of memory and forgetting. Griffiths is inspired by the brightness and vivid colours of Greece, be it the light on the sea or the no less attractive whitewashed walls of ancient villages. Her work emanates energy and life.