There’s not much work I’d describe as ‘the collision between a unicorn and a rainbow exploding in my head’. There are even less artists that reply to this with “yeah, they tell me that more often’. Fraser Gray does though, and if you’ve seen his work you won’t even be surprised. His work is oh so sharp, crisp and clean. Yet some of his works are also such a visual explosion you can’t help it feel that you’re watching some elaborate ordered chaos. I was intrigued thus needed to get in the head of Edinburgh based artist Fraser Gray!
“I didn’t really figure it out until I was at art school. I went in wanting to be a graphic designer, but came out a painter.”
Let us start at the beginning then; have you always been a creative kid?
Pretty much, I was always drawing when I was younger. For some reason my childhood ambition was to be a cartoonist, but alas that didn’t really pan out. I must have gone on about it, as I remember being given a kids drawing table one Christmas (than angled and everything) . I was so excited!
When did you realize you’d like to be a full-time artist? (actually, are you?)
Yeah I am, I but I split my time between studio practice and working as an arts educator – doing workshops and classes at a gallery. It can be great, as they really seem to feed into each other.
I didn’t really figure it out until I was at art school. I went in wanting to be a graphic designer, but came out a painter. I am quite an easily distracted person, but for some reason when I’m in the studio or outside in the rain trying to finish a mural I can’t think about doing anything else. I have this real focus. I only become aware of how determined I could be when doing my undergrad degree show, so I suppose it was quite late in the day.
Could you share with us your thought process a bit? Like in ‘Landslide’, how does a piece like this come to live?
In the object explosion works like ‘Landslide’ , my paintings are built up like a collage, combining abstracted elements with photos I’ve taken of everyday objects and cuttings from print and online news sources. I am constantly collecting as much of this information as I can, and it all gets cataloged into an image library to be used for future works. The objects are then selected from this on an intuitive basis, removed from their original context and composed as if they were all projecting out from an energy source, or dropped from height and photographed in free fall.
“There is something really exciting about placing your work directly in the environment, where it is a lot harder to ignore.”
I see you’ve got all kinds of work; murals, canvas, installation; what makes you want to work on the streets?
I’ve come from a graffiti background, and while my work has changed a lot, part of the ethos remains. I think a lot of the power of graffiti comes not from its aesthetics, but its action. There is something really exciting about placing your work directly in the environment, where it is a lot harder to ignore. It makes it active, and forces the you as an artist to engage with your surroundings.
For me, working outside predominately with spray paint allows me to be more immediate, and I tend to be quicker the bigger I paint surprisingly. I think this can free up my painting, as I can get a little ‘tight’ in the studio.
Can you tell us a bit about your installations?
While I try to resolve most ideas through painting, I suppose certain things seem to fit better to sculpture or installation. They are usually ideas that have hung around up there for a long time, and haven’t gone away. If they are still there 6 months later, I feel I should figure out a way to do it. I think what is great about good sculpture and installation is that it can close up the distance between the work and the viewer. It’s not like a window to an imaginary world (like painting can be), it presents itself right in front of you. It can surround you, and invite you in.
Is there something specific you want to have done in your life-time?
Hmm, that’s tricky. Easy answer, but I would like to travel a lot more. I would love to see a platypus in the wild.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully some more murals (I’m always on the look out for new walls!). I am also part of an artist collective called Blameless, and we have a few projects in the pipeline I am excited about. We have been working together for years doing collaborative shows and walls, but have only just managed to come up with a name, so we will be doing a Launch in the not too distant future.