Giles Walker Talented Scrap Artist and a Man with a Message.
Giles Walker is a very talented Scrap artist born in Bristol in 1967. He has been making art and kinetic sculptures from our waste for over 20 years and was a member of the guerilla-art group the ’Mutoid Waste Company‘, a group founded out of the squatting/travellers community he was a part of in the late 1980′s.
The Punk inspired group travelled all over Europe making sculptures from any scrap and rubbish they picked up along the way. They would set up events showing their art as a way of raising money to fund fuel costs, tools for their work and food.
He is called upon from time to time to take up his position as a member of the Mutoid Waste Co. and the crew get together to do large projects, Glastonbury festival namely being one of their regular meets, but Walker works mainly on his own now.
Early on whilst developing his talents Walker started to incorporate the odd wiper motor, taken from scrapped cars, to make the sculpture he was working on move a little. This progressed and eventually he was working with sculptures powered by eight or so wiper motors and controlled with numerous door bell switches.
Things have moved on significantly since then and although, self admittedly, not much of a techy his talent is apparent in the numerous works he has shown around the world.
Most of his work has an element of humour to it, but this is almost always a precursor to a more serious message. He takes our waste and translates it in a way to reveal the worst of the human condition, using visual and audio stimuli to draw us in and drive his message home. A lot of his sculptures have added commentary which makes them all the more compelling.
His sculpture named ‘Communication Breakdown’ portrays a couple of drunks on a bench. They have rotary dial telephones for heads and shout abuse at people as they pass by.
This along with his other work ‘Outside the Box’, which is an animated figure of a homeless man with programmed voices of actual homeless people built-in, has attracted a lot of attention. Given the subject matter, it is in his view quite ironic, as how many passers-by would give these people the time of day in reality.
A Kids Life
His its ‘A Kids Life’ sculpture is a nod towards the exploitation of children for cheap labour and the use of them to mass produce vast quantities of highly over-priced toys.
The toys after ridiculously aggressive marketing are then sold on to other children who are unknowingly fueling this cycle of misery.
The 1.5m high figures with targets on their faces have motion sensors on them which when triggered make them shake violently. Possibly emulating fear, despair or anger at the injustice of this corporate slavery.
‘Peepshow’ is one of his most popular works which involves two robots, powered by 12v wiper motors, pole dancing! Whilst quite funny to look at it is a subtle play on the concept of voyeurism and the power it has on society whilst taking a huge swipe at the increasing CCTV cameras appearing on every street corner and the debate about whether ‘Big Brother’ is watching you.
The Last Supper
Another popular kinetic sculpture is his interpretation of ‘The Last Supper’ and his thoughts on this piece, seen in this quote, are quite thought-provoking.
Just as I respect the law that allows people to practice whatever religion they chose..they have to respect the law that allows me to question it. Is a religious doctrine that assumes guilt, and threatens violence and pain as a just punishment a good education for a young child and should it be so readily embraced….or is this an education that leaves invisible mental scars that continue way into adult life? Why is the moral authority assumed by the religious so often considered above that of the non-religious in society? Are the ethics of a doctrine written in the dark ages really to be held with such high regard? Just as the law gives the right to practice religion, the law must allow the right to have freedom from it as well. Is this freedom, and the right to debate issues without make-believe and hysteria, being eroded?
His newer works include ‘Bird‘ a 7m tall animated sculpture made from a military helicopter. ‘Doing Life‘ an animated baby in a barbed wire covered cot and ‘Tank‘ a 1m high animated tank with bird like legs.
Clearly this is a man with a mission and a message to send and his art is his way to express this. Whatever the message, he is a very talented man who is using technology as a means to an end, as for him it is the end product and its visual impact that is the most important thing and if he educates people on important issues along the way, then even better.
For more images and information regarding Giles’ work, visit www.gileswalker.org