Back then, i promised to visit his studio and interview the man himself. Well, it happened. I hope you enjoy and find it as inspiring as i do.
Meet stuart haygarth.
What did you study and what was your first job ? I went to exeter school of art and design, did a graphic design degree specialising in photography. I graduated with a first class honours degree, came to london with some friends and got a job as a photographers assistant for a couple of years. After that i set up on my own as a commercial photographer for about two years. That’s when the recession hit, around 1991. I decided that instead of struggling through this time, i’ll go and travel so off i went to africa and india.
What happened next? When i came back to london i rented a studio in shoreditch and thought i’ll set up as a photographer again. I kind of lost interest. The notion of working for art directors and shooting their ideas didn’t excite me any longer and i felt it wasn’t creative enough. I decided to re-invent myself and became a kind of 3D illustrator. I found objects, created room sets, lit them and recorded it on film. I created a new portfolio and went around magazines and publishing houses. To my surprise it all started rather quickly. I got commissions from GQ, esquire, and men’s health magazine amongst others.
Why do you think it took off quickly? The work i was showing was new and different and although there were some people doing collage stuff, no one was doing it the way i did. I carried on for 15 years. After about 12 years I started to get bored because people saw my work and came and asked for the same piece i’d done for a previous commission but in a different colour. Once again, i started feeling creatively unfulfilled and was yearning for a change.
So, how did you make the leap to your current re-invention? That’s difficult to pinpoint. In my spare time I started experimenting in my studio. Because of the illustrations i was doing i had always collected objects from either car boot sales or the streets. I’ve always been an avid collector and hoarder and have always been interested in still life. For my illustrations i had to source many objects, so there was a natural progression. Most of my collection is actually in storage. I have two shipping containers in essex. Storage and finding room to work in is a continuous battle.
Tell us how your first installation came about? I used to live near tate modern and i went for a walk with my late dog. It was the first day of the year 2000. There was a field of champagne bottels and party poppers. I thought the party poppers looked amazing so went back and filled up about five bin liners. I was interested that all these party poppers were exploded at the same time for the same purpose, to celebrate the millenium. There was something historically signifacnt about these objects. I had those in the studio for about 4 years and made the millenium chalendelier in 2004. I also used to go to dungeness, on the kent coastline, with my late dog and there was so much stuff on the beach to collect. That’s how the tide chandelier came about. I decided to be more specific about my collecting, to only collect anything made from transparent and translucent plastic. Once you start looking, there is a lot of stuff out there. I would put it in a rucksack, bring it back and clean it. Then i’d go though it and categorise it. I’m really into categorising objects by function, colour et cetera. My work today has a lot to do with categorising, finding patterns in things, trying to make sense of the world.
Yet again, your work took off in no time. What in your opinion contributed to it? I believe that by the time i showed ‘millenium’, ‘the tide’ and then the disposable chandelier, made from disposible champagne flute at designers block in 2007 it was the zeitgeist of people wanting something different. There was lots of boring design around at that time. Lots of repeats that have been done before but with new materials. So i think my work kind of stood out and i got a lot of good press and it took off from there.
What made you do your installations in a form of a light? I don’t know, I get asked that quite frequently. As a photographer i’ve always been interested in lights and how light reacts to objects, goes through materials, and atmospheres that can be created from lighting. I’ve also always been into sculpture. I guess i kind of combined these interests, sculpture – photography – lighting. I do see things from a photographers point of view, how light falls on things and creates shapes and patterns.
Can you part with your art easily? Yes, no problem at all. As long as i take photographs and have a record. I’m more interested in what is coming next.
For the collectors and hoarders amongst us. Where is a good beach to find stuff? Den helder in holland is a great beach for collecting.
Your installations are big and complex. How do you work? I work on several projects at a time. For this i have a team that i can trust to get on with it. They kind of build the installations. I design them and regularly overlook all the work.
Who influences you? I’m more influenced by artists than designers and enjoy art shows much more than design shows. I find that, especially for the home interior market, there is very little new out there. The Bouroullec brothers are quite interesting because they take more risks. Interestingly one is an architect and the other a sculptor. I believe that as artists and designers we should be creating new and interesting pieces and not regurgitate the old.
In terms of your current work, could you see yourself in the future designing a product, sculpture or installation that is scaleable? Yes, i don’t see why not. If i were to be asked i would definitely consider it. It’ll be an interesting challenge to produce something for a larger market. I’m not at all against mass production, but would aim to make it different and exciting, instead of copying what’s been done before.
What’s on the agenda now? I’ve just finished ‘optical’, created from 80.000 used prescription lenses to form an immense glistening and floating sphere. 3,5 metres in diameter. The piece was commissioned by land securities for the foyer of a new glass building designed by architects swanke hayden connell and positioned in the heart of victoria at 62 buckingham gate, london sw1.
Optical (here below) can be viewed from street level day and night.
As part of this years 55th venice biennale i will be showing ‘glass house’ (see below) at the glasstress exhibition curated by james putnam and entitled white light/white heat. It opened on the 1st june at the berengo centre for contemporary art & glass, campiello della pescheria, murano.
Based on the proverb, those living in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. It’s made out of a steel glasshouse structure. Where the glass would go, it’s been replaced with mirror toughened glass laminate so you can actually shatter the mirror behind the glass but the glass stays intact. As a result you get very fractured panels of mirrors. The shattered mirror glasshouse is illuminted and light reflects off all the surrounding walls in the space it’s shown. It’s also lavitating off the ground by 10 cm. It looks like it’s floating. It’s a sculptural piece rather than a functional one. It’s a one off for this show. I’m still interested in functional pieces but my work is leaning more towards sculptural pieces for sculpture sake.
Stuart haygarth is a multi-faceted and very talented artist. He is best known for his ‘chandeliers’ but that’s only a small part of what he does. Yet we know that most like to label people. Looking through his sketchbooks was a highlight for me. All these ideas and thoughts illustrated so beautifully. I could have looked at them for hours. Thank you stuart for allowing me to share them.