In conversation with Sheffield-based artist Graham Hutchinson. The ‘Tall Man at a Small Desk’.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
Might be easier going backwards… I’ve been making music and art since I can remember and both of these have influenced each other greatly. Treating a collage like a song and vice versa, it terms of arrangement and deconstruction and sometimes obliteration. My ‘journey’ is more of a ‘fitting’, as in this is where I fit, a platform. This is where I can express myself. It is where I can use my brain to think, create and escape daily reality, to beat the mundane of shopping, waiting at traffic lights or choosing which cereal to have in a morning. Art is escapism and takes us to different places in our minds. I think this is what draws me to it.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?
If a sketchbook can be a desk, that is filled with ideas, possibilities that I go to, to reference and cipher through, then yes. Without the desk, my collection of magazines, books etc – there is no art. So in terms of how the art ‘happens’, the desk is my sketchbook, housing everything. Waiting to be ordered and sifted through.
I think as a collage artist, I work straight on the piece without drafting. I definitely think this gives the work some honest, humility and organic depth.
You use collage, what led you to specifically work in this medium?
Collage suits my way of working in terms of getting ideas down quickly. I don’t really have patience to return to a work, I don’t know how painters do it!! Must get really tedious.
Collage adheres itself to my mindset, in that it correlates with what I’m looking for in an artwork. It’s ability to shift context and to transcend to some other place/mood/atmosphere. I find in using existing images, that they provide some constraints or guidance to my outcomes. The challenge is how to alter or refine the images to create something that I feel achieves a goal or feeling.
Your work often uses archival imagery. What is the driver for this?
Originally I was drawn to simply the aesthetics of them, the colour of aged paper. I now have far more interest in them – where they have been, who owned them and what they used to mean to people. Old images bring their own stories and feel its my job to create a new narrative. I often use black and white images for their simple contrast and tone, I feel they give more power than colour work, occasionally.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
It’s hard to put in words really. In essence, I have idea and roll with it. Otherwise I wouldn’t do anything and end up procrastinating. Sometimes it’s great and enjoyable when I achieve a flow of working and just act on thoughts and impulses.
Music and lyrics influence my art immensely. Either whilst I’m working, or a lyric that goes through my mind during day can end up being a visual representation of it.
As a full time Art teacher with two young children, some obvious time constraints occur. But most evenings I make. Like a bat.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
I know what you are alluding to – that of the first steps and a book in one place that houses initial/rough/ragged thoughts and ideas. I think this is my head all day until I have the time on an evening to create. Sometimes the process can be stressful actually and not therapeutic at all. I can get anxious about not making anything, but then there are always other things to worry about – like cereal, I don’t even like cinnamon chips.