Stuart Haygarth: Meaningful Beauty

fluoro spoke to artist Stuart Haygarth about how he transforms collections of commonplace objects into beautiful artworks that speak of society.

Haygarth’s artistic career began in photography, originally remaining in a two-dimensional realm. A move to working in the third dimension saw the medium of sculpture become Haygarth’s primary field of exploration. His experience and research in photography brought a level of expertise to his sculpture practice, allowing him to weave meaning into his work.

His sculptures bring together uniform objects or objects that evoke the same theme and transform them en-masse from the everyday to artworks that carry meaning. Viewing the mundane in a new context, Haygarth’s works hold narratives that call for reflection.

Collecting objects that capture his interest, Haygarth’s working process sees him form an archive of unused or discarded objects that are stored until an idea or inspiration is revealed. “I work on possible ideas in my sketch book and again these are, on the whole, left to ferment over lengthy periods,” says Haygarth. “I return to these ideas over and over and if they still interest me I then decide to develop them further.”

The result of Haygarth’s archival collecting brings together the otherwise mundane, and transforms the objects into something of meaningful beauty.

(f) How does the power in a collection of specific objects, apply to the role of transformation in your work?

(SH) With many of my works, which utilise collections of objects, the objects when viewed singularly are not of great interest. However, when similar objects are collected in greater numbers they begin to create a family and become more powerful. For example with the chandelier Millennium (2004) and Tail Light (2007) pieces it is the repetition of a singular object that creates pattern, harmony and transformation. Our visual sensibility is drawn to repetition and ideas around structure, patterns and order play a large role within visual arts.

With other works such as Raft (2009) (pictured) it is the collection of one type of object on a theme. Each figurine is unique within the collection but the transformation and excitement comes from revealing the variety within that theme. It is made up of a collection of around 60 ceramic cats theatrically displaying different poses and expressions, inviting both humour and a darker sense of reflection.

(f) What is it about specific materials and objects that inspires you to develop them into sculptures?

(SH) This special quality varies with each object. Giving an existing everyday object a new significance and narrative is the essence of what I want to achieve. I am interested in the human link with the objects, I like to use objects that surround us but we don’t necessarily take note of. With some objects such as coloured glassware (Aladdin 2006) it is the way that light and presentation can transform an object from being ordinary into luxurious.

With Mirror Ball (2009), which is an archive of smashed car wing mirrors found on the streets of London, my interest lies in the beauty of an object that is the result of a violent accident. The collection is also a reflection on society, drivers driving recklessly, too close and too fast. Feeling pressured to get from A to B in our hectic lifestyles.

(f) The archives within your work often hold a message about society. Why do you believe an archive is a successful tool for exploring these messages?

(SH) Creating my different archives and adding to them continually over time is a way for me to think through my relationship to our physical world and the society we live in. It’s a way of thinking through material.

Tide (2004) (pictured) is an archive of clear and translucent objects found on beaches of the UK. This spherical display of objects could be seen as a celebration of modern manufacturing or a negative display of waste carelessly disposed of in the sea. Both interpretations have a link to human behaviour.

(f) What role does the past life of an object play in the narrative of your finished pieces?

(SH) All objects have a life and a history and they are layered with a variety of stories and meanings for different people. For three of my chandelier pieces I used second hand spectacles as a raw material. The Spectacle (2006) (pictured) chandelier is created from over 1000 individual spectacles and in turn each spectacle represents the person that once looked through them. Each pair of spectacles has a life and the viewer’s imagination is triggered immediately, perhaps through association.

(f) What objects are you looking to work with next? Why?

(SH) I am in the process of developing a new body of work based around the notion of play, utilising objects of play such as vintage rocking horses, Scalextric track, toy guns and balls. It has been proven that play is an integral part of creativity and I want to explore this theme in further depth through my own creative process.

The Track Tables (2013) (pictured) are created from authentic Scalextric track sections but two of the track designs are pointless in terms of racing and would not function for the original purpose of the slot car racing game. This is intended as a playful analogy on the futility that can occur in everybody’s life. With Prairie King (2013) (pictured) the original painted vintage rocking horses have a totally different appearance, highly chromed and reflective. They are no longer horizontal and suspended on springs but instead are now vertical and animated, dancing around 600 fairground bulbs, like moths around an exterior light. They have metamorphosed into magical unicorns with sheriff badges and punk-like spikes.

A selection of Haygarth’s work is on display at Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery, Paris until Sunday 10 May 2014.

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