Gareth Griffith

Big blower instudio this morning

I am thinking of James Ensor, looking forward to his big show in London in th Autumn. Long overdue, there is an awkwardness about his work, also a kind of sophistication as if he recognised the dangers of facility. Like a lot of artists he became too much of held in the end, to much like Ensor I think he sensibly gave up.

"Emdblow" 14"hx16" x8"wood metal plastic

Organpaul 21" hx22"x22 plastic wood metal

The Big Blower is almost done but I still need a couple of meters of grey 4 in plastic expandable tubing of the duct type. I have made another end bit, the bell end as it were which works much better, closer to the original. I have made a small piece from the original end. The Blower s sound is still being worked on , I have asked John Lawrence to work on it. I will recognise the sound when I here it. A sound was recorded at Willis from one of the big pipes which has a ne like a prescription drug, Diasopon 16 , or something like that anyway. 

wind changer


What I want is some kind of death sound I think, I heard a piece recently called Chante de 'Orgle de feu , which was a long low insistent foghorn sound., it reminded me of the   Ships foghorns on New Years Eve in Liverpool in the 60 s. It always moved me to tears. This Blower is the first time I have made something in a planned way from measurements and drawings. My feeling is that I was so fortunate in finding the original at Willis. I wanted to claim it and the only way I could do that was to make one myself. It's on wheels which will be usefull in placing it a about 6 ft in hight, I've made some other smaller pieces from stuff found at Willis one piece has a bit from one of the organs  at St Paul's cathedral London, Cuban mahogany and 6 in duct pipe. In all I will be showing some A 4 drawings, the film, four related sculptures along with the Blower.

End piece for Blower


‪Henry Willis and Sons Organ Makers and Restoration

A film by Greg Byatt with Gareth Griffith following research visits to the factory

"One of the questions Andrew asked me was the studio a place of refuge? This is a hard one, it implies that what you do there is somehow apart from the rest of the world, and through hiding away you re not confronting it. The studio is a place where th Crowhurst syndrome can kick in (Donald Crowhurst 1968 Round the World Race.. Look it up). Why am I doing this, where the Fugawi?. The best time is when the challenge is there, and you feel that you are making some thing new. Someone just put on F.B.a quote by Diebenkorn re painting, which is really a cover all for everything.."Attempt what is not certain...".This is I hope, the aproach I am taking with the organ. A friend asked me if it will make a sound, it will make a low intermittent sound gained from a pipe test at the Liverpool organ workshop. The organ ,the most complex of musical instruments,is umbiliacly linked to the Christian religion and its rituals,and in this it is both intimidating and upliftng in whatever measure is your preference.There is a correlation between the complexity of it s construction and the myriad of emotions it s sound can generate.

I remember once being in the massive neo Gothic space of the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool ,when the great organ, made by Willis, was being tested.The sound was enormous, palpable, one note, it scared the pants off me, oppressed and excited me, I can still feel the experience,it was marvellously "of itself. The Hammond, the poor man s organ when liberated from it s religious duties, is for me the instrument that resonates strongly. Musically I am quite Catholic, ..Bach,Ska, Jazz..but anything can move me..So Johan Sebastian, Jackie Mittoo, and Jimmy Smith have equal billing. I can t remember when I heard for the first time the expression "Everything is grist to the mill" . I think it was said by someone who was being kind tome when I was a lad. Anyway I was struck by what Iwan Lewis had said in an accompanying text to his really good instalation at the Mostyn, about acknowledging your influences, and that it was a conceit not to..nice one Iwan. This has got to be part of the deal and is central to my working practice. So the longer you do it the more you become aware of how much you owe. The hope is that it becomes more than a case of affirmation, and becomes through that entirely your own. So ,you come back to the question ....Reinvent..Retake ... its all part of the chain anyway .."


I have made along with Gregg Byatt, two visits to Henry Willis & sons organ makers and restorers of St Anne Street, Liverpool. They have a fascinating history each visit has been a step back in time. Situated in a red brick mid 19c. crumbling building, a stones throw from where I had my first job at the City police stores where I learned how to tie a few knots, it houses two very large workshops, which are surrounded by a warren of storage areas, sound rooms, office, staff rooms. Nothing is discarded, in the process of reconstruction, each piece is unique, many are simply beyond the resources or skills for reproduction. Having said that, I have never seen such a highly skilled resourceful workers, each possesses a thorough understanding of this complicated and complex of musical instruments they can work on any part of these enormous machines, because that is what they are.

Faced with this daunting kind of skill and craftsmanship, and totally lacking in these qualities myself, I was naturally drawn to the artefacts made by the men in order to perform basic but necessary tasks, or at least to make the job easier. These were all extemporised aids, made from what came to hand, such as the simple machine plane guiders, devised because the bosses don't like to see blood on the machinery said Fred laconically, he turned out to be the main man who was massively respected by his fellow workers, a man of few words, nothing happened without his say so, when I made a request,"ask Fred" was the stock reply. 

He was described as the best organ maker in the country, by one of the men, another device was a lot more complicated. It looked like something that Ernst and Duchamp would have come up with. Measuring 175 c. in height and made from a dexion frame and other to hand materials, including expandable piping that wormed in and out in and out in a Laocon sort of way, its purpose was to test the note and tone of the individual pipes. 

Some of the pipes were massive the size and shape of intercontinental weapons. This would be a good conversion, the missile to music project. Despite their aversion to part with materials I did manage to come away with quite a variety of stuff which will play a part in a series of sculptures I will make, the most ambitious being a (hopefully) a bellows blower tone tester of my own. Both trips were hugely absorbing, leaving us enthused and energised, Greg got some great footage, and I'm glad he drove as well, my son and fellow artist Morgan came along on the second trip and was knocked out by the place!


"Picasso vases,artist and model,will they ever be used? Daumier Lunch in the country" I thought of an overweight type 2 diabetic German family at a beach cafe in Turkey, followed by two oysters and mussels from Germain Theodor Ribot.Millet Shooting stars, Rain Van Gogh, Manet boats in Arguentill, two Turner Margates.Terrific painting of a woman, a strong presence, (atributed to Franz Halls, or school of) John Pipers Rocky Valley.

Stood and stared at Thomas Jones moment seen forever views of Naples and thought of he and his mistress maid and their balmy evenings...Michael Andrews locked pre or post coital lovers, a small painting nothing grand, an analogy...? Not my thing . Thought about scale .....then an edifice .... realised it housed an organ very grand Swell Organ Grand organ, I visualised myself seated one day at the organ, weary and ill at ease and remembered that my parents were tone deaf"

Participating are ..Greg Byatt ,Rhys Trimble,and Buster Llion Parsonson.


Dear Bryony,

I have looked up the organ,Case designed by Robert Adams.What I need is basically as much information on it as you can send really.Particularly its measurements and dimensions.Are there art works by other artists attached to the structure,I will need the measurements of the entire structure.Also what does "case" mean in this context,just the front elevation or ....I shall be coming down again and will let you know in good time when.I have decided not to use interaction with staff as part of the work.


 Courtesy of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
The organ was commissioned by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1749-89) for the music room of his London house, 20 St James's Square, and made by John Snetzler, the case being designed by the architect Robert Adam.

Lunch in the Country by Honoré Daumier. 1868. Oil on board, 26 x 34 cm
Courtesy of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales


These are the works that engaged me . 1 Chamber Organ, case designed by Robert Adam.2 Lunch in the country,Daumier. 3 Two vases ,artist and model,Picasso. I may engage with all three,Chamber Organ is at the moment my preferred option. 

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