Paul Griffin began his art practice in the wilds of Northern British Columbia. While working a logger he happened upon a large log building under construction in the backwoods of Hazelton. B.C.. In his first 20 years of life he had never applied himself to construction or in anyway thought himself as a carpenter yet the way that the forty foot logs fit together in a seamless undulation of golden wood captivated him for some reason. Under the spell of this aesthetic moment he dedicated himself to learning the craft of log home building for the next eight years.
At the heart of this movement into construction and architecture was a core belief that everyday labour and work could be art; that the manual work of a carpenter framing a house or the labour of a man who sells and piles cordwood should be shaped into an important artistic expression.
After deciding to uproot his young family and moving to Sackville to attend Mount Allison University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts he continually endeavored to bring the everyday into rarefied field of Fine Art. Gravitating to the practice of Photography and Sculpture he strove to explore and even reify everyday objects and building materials.
While completing his Masters of Fine Arts at University of Guelph he began to fuse the practice of photography and sculpture creating combines and amalgams that spoke to the unarticulated creative tension that exists between objects we use everyday and the hidden thoughts and/or emotions that attach themselves to those objects.
Moving into larger installation work involving woodpiles placed in public locations he created a large body of work that effectively unified his desire for an art that speaks directly to the viewer; for work that highlighted the uncommon beauty of everyday objects.
While working at Mount Allison University Griffin has continued his art practice moving into an exploration of more complex hybridized sculptures utilizing elements that we take for granted and placing them in a new light that imbues them with meaning, relevance and maybe even beauty.
I have often seen the spray marking that brands the Elm tree something that is diseased; something that most be destroyed to safeguarrd the rest of the urban flora. Yet I have always been intrigued by the latent nobility and aesthetic appeal of these dead Elms that stand like silent sentinels throughout our city streets. The latest fad has been to truncate the trunks and carve historical figures for posterity but I hoped to bring more attention to the formal beauty and poetry of the tree itself. The American Elms which seems the most affected by the blight are particularly comely in form; the branches are almost wavelike, curving out of a massive trunk.
By creating a covering of small roofing nails that form a sarcophagus or ritualized coffin of sorts I wish to draw the viewer’s attention to the beauty and nobility of the fallen Elm. Hopefully causing to viewer to pause and reflect on how time and Nature has shaped this tree and how the Elm has enriched our lives over its lifespan.