Name: GRAHAM RHODES
Mission: TO KEEP ON BEING CREATIVE
I really love how many new people this project has connected me with over the last year. The Spiralling Exhibition had over 500 visitors in the week that it was on at The Island. One of them suggested an artist to me to write about, so here he is.
Graham was born in Leeds and has been manipulating images all his working life “It’s in my DNA – I’ve been writing, painting, and drawing since I was a kid”. He worked as a book and record sleeve designer, creating “images for such clients as Octopus Books, The Cramps (including possibly the first ever 3D sleeve), and The Police (the band not the force!)”
He then became an audio-visual designer, a video director and conference producer. In his time he designed product launches for Monster Munch (even playing the part of an all singing, all dancing, pink monster in the product launch), new car launches for Ford, Volvo and Austin Rover, public information films for the Home Office, British Aerospace and Yorkshire Water and, in the heritage sector, created numerous programs for various museums including the Jorvik Viking Centre, The Scottish Museum of Antiquities, Merseyside Maritime Museum and the York Story that ran for a number of years in the centre of York.
In 1975 he left Leeds and moved to London. “I arrived with a full portfolio and a naivety that, looking back, amazes me. I took a job as a designer in a print house and after a couple of months of being bossed around, making tea, and doing paste up, I was ready to rebel. I had noticed these guys that breezed in and out who were only called in when we were busy or under pressure – when I asked I was told they were freelancers. Believe it or not, at no point during a three year graphic design course, had the option or even the concept of becoming a freelance worker ever been explained to us.”
After eighteen years in London, Graham returned to Yorkshire heading up the production arm of a York based company. In 2001, now a full time scriptwriter for both corporate videos and computer games including Yager, (European Game of the year 2005), he moved to Scarborough where he founded a small pub based theatre company. However his purchase of a digital camera galvanised him to take his own photographs. Recognising the computer was a unique opportunity to mutate colour, he took some months out to learn computer techniques, allowing him to realize his own personal artistic interpretation of the scene.
With such a vast history of achievements it was hard for Graham to choose his proudest moment. “Being introduced to The Queen for my work as an A/V designer on the reopening of the science museum in 1988. Being given a standing ovation for my poetry act by 3,000 bikers when I supported Suzie Quatro! Also the opening night of my one man show at the Battersea Arts Centre – a play of mine winning a regional final of a writing competition.”
Five years ago, on his 60th birthday, he opened a small gallery exhibiting a selection of his unique photographic art. This gallery is in an unusual location, above the public conveniences, halfway along Scarborough’s West Pier in a grade-two listed building that once housed a company buying and selling fish. In the last four years, he has sold over one thousand of his framed photographic art images.
Each of Graham’s images sell for £26 mounted and framed as he strongly believes in the concept of affordable art “I believe that too many artists charge far too much for their work, putting original art out of reach of the average family, therefore making the ownership of art an elitist prerogative.” He also believes that the majority of commercial art galleries do not do justice to either their own customers or the artists they represent by having an inbuilt snobbishness about the art they sell, the atmosphere the gallery creates and a complete disregard for the ordinary customer. Graham is always in attendance in his own gallery and is more than willing to discuss his work, his theory of art, the state of the nation, or even the weather.