Virtual Letters from artist, Will Griffin

Virtual Letters from the artist, Will Griffin

Will Griffin challenges the typical art student stereotype, and the accessibility of creativity, which offers inspiration to those who think they’re not posh enough to be ‘arty’ to take a leap.

In late August 2020, I began speaking to Will Griffin about the work he made over the previous academic year as a Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. I had seen Will's work while I shuffled through the Graduate online showcase online profiles looking for artists and designers to exhibit for the Team LEWIS Foundation annual exhibition. This year's exhibition would be different than previous ones I curated for the foundation. In late July 2020, just prior to receiving a virtual letter from Will about himself and his work, local lockdowns came into force and more lockdown restrictions eased across England. As local government gained authority over social distancing enforcement, we saw pubs, restaurants and hair salons reopen. While during Aug 2020, Eat Out to Help Out schemes offered massive 50% discounts for meals £10 or less, and further relaxing of lockdown restrictions would allow cinemas, bowling alleys, and playgrounds to re-open, albeit only for a short while. However, the UAL cancelled its traditional end-of-year exhibition held at universities sites and public organisations across London  due to the first lockdown restrictions. Instead, the university would adopt an online platform to showcase the undergraduate and postgraduate courses at UAL. 

We now know that a second national lockdown would soon come in Nov and a third in Jan 2021 and would last until April-May 2021 (citation needed). However, In late Aug, there's an air of relief and optimism, mixed with a shared disappointment for the student experience of the final year students who spent the year working remotely, and with no end-of-year celebration before they graduate. Will Griffin, keen to have digital prints of his sculptural work displayed in Millbank Tower, shared his sentiment toward his practice and  

Dear Joshua, 


A bit about my practice. 

Sustaining an artistic practice during lockdown was a problem that most artists had to grapple with. Gone was the idea of having the luxury of easy access to studio space and exhibitions, and along with it, the traditional gallery bricks and mortar business model. Access to materials, scale, the logistics of storage and transportation all came into sharp focus. This caused a jolt to my visual consciousness and forced me to view the world through the COVID spectrum at this time. This was not all bad as nature played its part and, for me, was omnipresent, influencing my colour palette and pushed the boundaries of shape and form. 

This lockdown jolt led me to produce my ‘Rhythmic Colour Series’. They were produced as folded sculptural paper Marquette’s at home on a tabletop. The aim was to experiment with three-dimensional interlocking colourful planes and forms on a small scale. The production of these Marquette’s has been a revelation to my practice as they have proven to me that I can work with basic materials, tools and limited space to achieve interesting results which I hope you will enjoy. 

A bit about me.

You talk about ladders. I've tried to climb up this ladder many times. I've also fallen off more times than I'd like to admit, but I always get up. So I admire your empathy about where I stand. I was born into a working-class family. Dad left home when I was thirteen, so at sixteen, I had to go to work to support my mum and siblings.

Nobody told me about going to university. I never heard the word 'Art' mentioned. I found this road myself, via seeing antiques on Portobello Road where I went every Saturday. I was fascinated by their design and history. This led me through the doors of museums, and I started to paint. I fell in love with art and wanted to be an artist. But I didn't know the route, couldn't find a map of how to get there, and nobody I knew could tell me. And others needed me.

So, I was a plumber who painted. I worked in the homes of the wealthy who were shocked, then fascinated, to hear me speak about their art collections with insight. But an accent does not indicate knowledge, nor passion. I have moved my family twice in order to reduce our costs and do the Post Graduate Art course at Chelsea. They took me on my work, as I don't have even one 'O' level to boast of. Now I've been accepted to do the MA of Sculpture at Camberwell. This is a dream for me, something intangible, too far up the ladder for a man in my position to reach and this confirmed to me how the arts were always the premise of the rich. But there is change and hope in the air. I desire to do an MA at Camberwell, pending funding. I am concerned about the cost. How can keep my family going?

I've applied for a bursary, but, as you know, many are called, few are chosen. I mention this as your website states you award bursaries. How may I apply?

Feel free to include my story in the bio you put together, perhaps not about the MA finance but anything else? It might encourage others to keep climbing that ladder. Finally, thank you for your interest in my work, which means the world to me. Your efforts are life-changing. 


Kindest regards

Will Griffin.


Please check out more of Will's work on his website

Please visit these websites to find out more about Team LEWIS Foundation or my professional practice.


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