OPTICAL ILLUSIONS – STUART HAYGARTH
Elevating the commonplace or discarded objects of everyday life is a central tenet of Stuart Haygarth’s work.
There is a quote by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius: beauty is inherent in all things – but not everyone can perceive it. The ability to apprehend beauty in even the most modest object is a special gift: it requires a receptiveness to a world we sometimes find cluttered with useless detritus and difficult to navigate, and a finely honed aesthetic sensibility. These are the qualities that inform the works of the UK artist Stuart Haygarth.
Haygrath’s exquisite designs and installations employ the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life – from manufactured debris washed up on the seashore to things as prosaic as thousands of salvaged prescription spectacles.
Stuart Haygarth studied graphic design at Exeter School of Art & Design but specialised in photography. He worked in London for four years as a commercial photographer but became disillusioned with his photography career and reinvented himself as an illustrator using collage as his medium. Haygarth practised as an illustrator for 15 years until, in 2005, he changed tack once again to focus on sculptural works. In this new incarnation, he was awarded the 2007 Wallpaper magazine “Best Breakthrough Designer”.
“I’m interested in the human relationships with everyday objects”, Stuart tells us. “My ideas generally arise from finding an object that excites me. After collecting the object I will work on a concept which may remain in my sketch book for months or even years. If after time the idea still interests me I will develop it further”. We asked Stuart why he believes it is important to create art from discarded objects. “My work is about giving everyday objects a new life and a new meaning”, he tells us, “and also about creating order from chaos”. A corollary of Stuart’s work with discarded objects, and one which excites us here at Junkies, is the recycling nature of the artist’s work. Not only is Haygarth, in a mircocosmic way, making a small difference to the amount of discarded waste in the world, his commitment to recycling and reusing discarded objects acts as a catalyst for all of us to reconsider the way we see waste in our world.
Whilst it is impossible not to respond to Stuart’s work on an aesthetic level, his sculptures also provoke other deep responses from the viewer. “It’s always important to me that the work has a meaning and isn’t just about looking beautiful”, Stuart notes. “I hope that my work entertains, but also makes the viewer think and question.” As with all of the artists we have encountered here at Junkies, Stuart is engaged and inspired by the act of creativity itself: “The process of creativity is very satisfying and exciting”, he notes. “Putting an idea and observation into something physical in order to communicate to others is what I love”.
We asked Stuart to tell us about his Tide collection and the inspiration behind it: “The Tide Mark and Tide chandelier were two of my first sculpture works”, he tells us. “They started with weekend trips to the Kent coast with my dog Albert. While taking these regular trips to the coast I started to find and collect amazing flotsam and jetsam.” After some time Stuart began to categorise the objects in his studio and to begin work on the Tide chandelier. “This chandelier is created from clear and translucent plastic objects, all individual and different in shape, but they come together to form a perfect sphere.” Stuart’s work focuses on the relationship between the moon and the tides: “The sphere represents the moon which controls the tides and in turn washes up the debris on the beach”. The work evokes an interesting – and even polarised – response in the viewer: “The work can be seen as a celebration of our manufacturing skills”, Stuart notes, “or as a negative remark on our careless polluting of the oceans”.
Stuart has made several works employing spectacles as the raw material. “Like a good butcher”, he tells us, “I have used each part: the lenses, the arms and the frames. Each pair of spectacles has a life and the viewer’s imagination is triggered immediately, perhaps through association. The individual spectacles represent the person that once looked through them. Also, many of these people are probably no longer alive and the viewer may try to imagine what the wearer looked like. Each pair of spectacles has a life and the viewer’s imagination is triggered immediately, perhaps through association”.
You can see more of Stuart’s recent work by visiting his website:
Prepare to be astounded!
*This is an excerpt from our original article that appeared in Junkies Issue 9