Artist Spotlight - David Parfitt
From: England, UK
Styles: monumental sculpture, public art, etc.
Mediums: stone, glass, steel, wood, plastics, etc.
David Parfitt Artworks (from top to bottom)
David Parfitt – Monumental Sculpture and Public Art
Trained as an artist/maker my early career involved exhibiting and involvement in setting up and running artist collectives, as time has progressed I have become increasingly drawn toward the nature of creative activity, not just the mechanics of ideas, but the benefits to us as individuals in exploring our own aesthetic activity. In a sense I am advocate for 'being an artist' rather than 'being an art consumer'; to use a sporting metaphor I am more interested in how to actually play the game, than to get tickets to the stadium.
My work falls into two main categories; product led & process led. In as much that I make monumental site specific sculpture - Public Art, but this is usually informed through a process of collaboration and social practise.
I would say that the majority of what I consider to be my work, is about engaging with the act of making art with a very broad range of people, often the result is not an object but a mutual sharing of creativity through activities.
As well as making monumental permanent sculpture, I also regularly make monumental ephemeral work, often secretly.
The sculpture that I make always calls for its own appropriate materials, as a result I often work in stone, steel, wood, plastics and glass. I have made many mosaics and have worked with materials as diverse as grass lawns, earth and bamboo. However I still think of stone as my primary material.
Technique and Process
My approach has been described, by me, as stochastic, that is, without an end product in mind. I deeply distrust the impulse to "design" as it is always based on a notion of what someone else wants, usually an inaccurate notion. Of course it is impossible to proceed without a plan but I try to make sure that it is 'my' plan, that way the work can't help but be recognisable, and hopefully of interest to someone that I would like to exchange aesthetics with.
As a sculptor my themes are invariably about the mass of an object in space.
We all move through space all the time and we read every aspect of it, the atmospherics, textures, incidentals and oddities - these are the languages that I use.
I read a space in every way that I can, and then make something that adds to the dialogue of the space.
Sculpture can only be experienced in proximity.
Why do you make art?
Most people work as a means to an end, sell some time for money now, and get to do what you like later on. At a young age I decided that I would go straight for doing what I liked best and cut out the middleman, work. What started out as dreaming and imagining soon focused into trying to comprehend the world and re-communicate it to others - if you like a more considered version of the "look at that" we all shout when we are struck by something. So now work is play and vice versa.
I am now far too old to do anything else.
How often do you create?
Continuously. I make no distinction any more between time to create and time to arm... not create. Making food, getting dressed, re-arranging the furniture, choosing the route to town, these are all prime creative moments that we all share. I am not being facetious; some trivial part of the day is often the springboard for something great - I believe that the term 'inspiration' is a bit of a fallacy, what is really happening is that you just remember to let unassociated events influence each other.
Do you make a living with your art?
Yes. I have lived successfully from my art for almost 35 years. Primarily I make sculptures to commission, usually for corporations and city centres.
I have also taught at undergraduate level in several universities, published two books and advised and installed the work of others. I have not exhibited for many years, nor have I made work with the hope that it might sell.
How have you promoted your art online?
Apart from my own website I am not sure that I have ever actively promoted my work online. I have certainly never made any sales as a result of being on a particular site. I do however use LinkedIn and Facebook as professional tools to keep in touch with my peers and other professional contacts. But the reason that I am filling in this form is that I am interested in seeing if the web has more to offer than it did a few years ago.
I am influenced more by the writing of artists than by the work that they do - I usually find engagement with gallery art a deeply disappointing experience and tend to avoid it. My main source of visual/sculptural reference is through visiting other countries and looking at ancient objects.
If I have to name someone, I would say Gaston Bachelard, or Marcel Mauss for their writings, or perhaps Joseph Beuys for his C.V.
Contemporary Artist Recommendation
In the UK at least there appears to be a new sensibility amongst visual art practitioners, and I think that the work of 4 artists under the banner of Wrights & Sites begins to get close to what it is all about.
They have a website at: www.mis-Guide.com
In their own words: "Wrights & Sites is a group of artist-researchers with a special relationship to site, city/landscape and walking."
Funny and Interesting Life Event
I once told HRH Queen Elizabeth that "Size doesn't matter" when she unveiled and signed a sculpture that I was involved with, in response to her saying "that is the largest signature I have ever written".
Advice to Aspiring and Emerging Artists
I would say to an aspiring artist, You are already an artist - it is all there within you right now, you've just got to locate it and understand it, you must commit to that and never be satisfied.
To an emerging artist I would say: what exactly are you emerging from?
Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?
I see myself dealing with the same issues, and no doubt working in very different ways, but my hope is that I find clarity a bit more easily.
Please visit David Parfitt’s art website…
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