As designers we travel around the world to new places in order to get inspired and discover the newest up and becoming artists, objects, designer furniture and all that has to do with design. In one such exclusive exhibition in London we discovered the great artworks of Petr Weigl and mission was accomplished. Son of a Czech émigré born in England, Petr Weigl is a talented artist/sculptor/graphic designer and a great lover for all things old world. The characteristic element of Weigl’s work is the concrete medium which he uses to create flowing shapes resembling the natural shapes of nature. We met up with the artist himself and found out more about how these great artworks are conceived.
The main media used in your works is concrete, how did you decide to work with such a hard material to create such elegant work?
I was studying for my BA Ceramics at Central Saint Martins when I first started to play with concrete. It was for my minor project to be precise. In this project I was working with bone china, a very fine and fragile clay. My thinking was that as this was such a delicate and beautiful material, it would be great to combine it some how with its opposite counter part. Concrete was about as far away as I could find and a good place to start my experiments of how these two materials could work and exist together as one. I spent three months experiments with both materials, testing as extensively as my imagination would allow. In some of the experiments some rather odd and unexpected things happened with the concrete, but only in very isolated areas. These oddities appeared infrequently and there seemed to be nothing obvious linking them. These patches aesthetically did not represent concrete as I had perceived it before or how I felt about concrete as a medium. Fascinated is the best word I could use to describe my feelings regarding my findings. I finished the minor project being no clearer as to why these patches existed in the concrete.βÂ¨The minor project was a great success and I received very good marks for the work I had completed. Naturally I wanted to continue this investigation for my major project, but the teachers felt the major project should focus more primarily on ceramics. I was a bit frustrated but understood why they had felt that way. So I vowed to myself that after I finnish my BA I would return to my mysterious new friend, concrete.βÂ¨It took a further 8 months to finally work out what had happened back in University and a further 4 months to put it to use in my work as an artist.
Does the combination of Concrete and Glass in your works have a symbolism as these materials are contrasting?
The materials I choose to work with do not have necessarily have a symbolism, but I do try and use materials that either compliment or are at a juxtaposition for visual or conceptual effect. Most of my work reflects simplicity which probably was the influence from my graphic design background, where the simplest ideas always provided the best or most appropriate solutions.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your pieces?
I am mostly inspired by mother nature and my journey of life's experience. If its not about capturing or telling a story from nature its the same thing from what has happened to me in my life. More recently its been observational on life as a whole and on people/human beings.
One of your most well perceived artwork is ‘A New Beginning’ can you explain to us how this piece was conceived?
There were several things that came together to form the piece titled A New Beginning. One of them was the looming approach of a major bench mark in my life, turning 40. I was 38 at the time and was only a few months away from 39 and therefore no longer able to convince myself 40 was still a way off. This had made me consider my life and mortality in a way I had previously never done. Some how the Peter Pan life was coming to an end and middle age was bearing down on me at an alarming rate!βÂ¨At that time I was also falling in love with repetition, this really fascinated me and I expect will be seen in my work for many years to come.
This started from seeing a swarm of ants that had made a flowing river of tiny bodies all the way down 8 steps to where I was having breakfast. I got up and knelt down next to them watching the flow of thousands of parts of this colony in an seemingly endless stream. There was something really special about the individual parts that made up the whole. After this I started looking at everything in this way, leaves on trees, blades of grass on a lawn, birds swarming in the skies at dusk etc etc.βÂ¨So A new Beginning was made up from my love for repetition, the next chapter in my life, the fact that its never to late to start a fresh and elements from the begging of life its self, from the seas where it all started. The black glass was chosen for its reflective qualities and more importantly for my concept to work there must be light there is surely darkness.
The artwork ‘Humanity’ is a very strong piece, how is the titled perceived through the piece?
There was no ground breaking concept to my inspiration or perhaps more the conclusion I draw, but it was a nice way to tell the story again within my own world of ceramics. This is the explanation I give for the piece:βÂ¨Humanity is essentially the same, give or take a few degrees of separation and our own personal kinks and twists. We share the same needs, desires and basic concerns whatever our colour, creed or culture. Homage to the craft of ceramics, this series ponders the infinite variations and random differences that occur through the ceramic testing process. Even though each individual tile, like ourselves is unique, the question remains: are we really so different from one another?
Your signature on your pieces is old world, as a graphic designer how did you derive on this medium?
My artist seal has many facets, it acts as my signature, a reassurance of quality control, a guarantee of originality and pays its homage to tradition as well as working with the contemporary. It came about from being a young boy and enjoying films like Robin Robin where the king would impress his ring into the wax to seal the envelope or scroll. Everyone would know that saw that scroll that this was indeed proof it was from the king. I also have a fascination for old parchments, maps, particularly nautical ones.βÂ¨So the wax seal in its creation was a combination of a material, process and ideology. I knew how to apply this as a trade mark from my background in Graphic design and I knew it fitted well with my future plans as an artist.
The majority of your pieces seem to have a tranquil landscape inspired theme. The artwork ‘The Way We Were’ seems to have a complexly different concept and influences, how did this arise?
The Way We Were is an observational piece, its a homage to exactly that, the way we were. In England growing up in the 70's the family as a whole had a far greater presence (much like it still is in most of Europe). We would regularly get together for barbecues, birthdays, summer parties, Christmases. I have a large family, especially the scottish side, so these events were full of people talking, playing, laughing, joking. The last I really saw of this generational theme was the Queens silver jubilee, where most of Britain had street parties and all the nation pulled together as a community.βÂ¨These days are no more, we are all to busy and have forgotten the values and experiences of yesterday. The Way We Were is my contemporary take on growing up in the 70's and early 80's.
How important is colour in your work?
Colour is as important as the idea behind the piece. It is not any more or any less relevant than the story I'm telling. That being said, Colour is important in playing its part, but isn't used in isolation without form to complete a given piece.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I'm playing around with the idea of a Petr Weigl Treasure Map. I have a favorite old nautical sea map dating back some 300 years. As they did not know the world at that time in its entirety there are just random pictures on the map to denote their lack of knowledge. I'm also looking at the old Dogon Settlements in Mali, west Africa.
In the future do you see your works taking a completely new approach and concept based on your influences and your daily experiences?
Yes indeed! As I grow as an artist and with new the new found wisdom age brings, I'll be wanting to tell new stories and reflect further on my life and the life's of others.
SIX QUESTIONS (to be answered with one word)
|Favorite Object||Drawing Pen/pencil|
|Who makes you Inspired||Experience|
|What makes you smile||Contentment|
|What makes you aggravated||Dishonesty|