Chippenham’s Forbidden Carnival Gallery

Next week Chippenham’s finest alternative artist Si Griffiths sees his hard work paid off as he opens his gallery at 64a Market Place. The Forbidden Carnival studio and gallery will be something the like Chippenham has never seen, except of course when Si has previously exhibited with friends at the Yelde Hall with an annual show of alternative art. Certain that The Forbidden Carnival will be in a similar vein on a permanent basis, I caught up with Si for a quick chat prior to the opening evening on the 5th May…..

With a penchant for the unusual; clowns and carny lifestyle, surrealist pop art, demons and underground comix of yore, Si’s work is exemplary for the bizarre and unique. Recently he took part in Swindon’s inaugural street art festival, Swindon Paint Fest, and the influence of urban graffiti seems to also be an upcoming theme in his work. 

From the Alternative Art Shows of Si, Sally, Clifton and Mike at the Yelde Hall, Chippenham

 But the grand opening will see a global collection of similarly inspired artists’ work as well. “Yeah,” Si laughed as I asked him how it was going, “dealing with a bunch of artists is like herding cats to be honest! But we should be ready to go for it!”

Grand opening is on Friday 5th May from 6:30-9pm, and presents “Hail the Curious,” an inaugural exhibition featuring a rumbustious ensemble of local, national and international artists, and I know Si well enough by now to know he won’t skip on rumbustiousness or more importantly, providing a trailblazing sneak at the peculiar of offbeat counterculture art, be it eldritch or quirky.

But after the show, I was curious about the gallery’s opening times, “hereafter the show,” he explained, “it will be open Saturdays and Sundays, 10-3pm, and also by appointment.” But he was flexible on times being his studio is based there too, “we’re still talking about opening times,” Si mentioned the possibility of having staff. So, for the foreseeable future those are the times to visit, or book a visit from the website, and it will be well worth it; I wondered if Chippenham was ready!

Si expressed his delight at said ensemble, works from artists worldwide from northern England to the States, he mentioned shows he regularly exhibits in the US as networking, and an annual holiday combined, but Chippenham?! Does Chippenham know what’s going to hit it?!

I supposed, to do such a gallery in an area considered quirky and arty, say place this gallery in the Lanes of Brighton, it might meld and be lost amidst similar surroundings, whereas what we have here for Chippenham is something wholly unique. “Yeah,” Si agreed, “for sure, if you go anywhere where it’s established, you just become one of the crowd, whereas you’re switched out here, and I’m only doing this for me, because it’s a fifteen year dream realised.”

Though Si shrugged and I felt he didn’t want the gallery to rule his life, finding the time to continue painting is paramount to him, rather than being a fulltime gallery owner. In this he provides the clue, Si is a creative foremost, opening this gallery seconds to his labour of love, which connotes, this motivated by the passion of an artist, not the profiteering of a dealer.

I wondered this; if his studio is there and visitors pop in while at work painting, one would have to pause their inspirational moment to welcome them, and often with the creative mind in full flight it’s difficult to pull away from it and then return at a later moment. But that’s the game, finding the balance between creativity, and promoting your work and others you’ve networked. He reasoned with this and spoke of getting some help with the day-to-day running of the gallery, “I’m just opening it, it’s causing a stir already, and we’re going to see what happens.”

As is commonplace with the creative mind, to get butterflies upon venturing into something like this, though any fears Si might have suggested now about the certainty of The Forbidden Carnival is down to nerves, and this is will be a fantastic and unique place to visit, shoving a twig in the bicycle spokes of formalist arts in Wiltshire.

With dark artists such as Montague Tott and Holly Aragon, combined with the feminine Litchensteinesque of Sarah Christie and Si’s own penchant for those mysterious clowns in odd circumstances, this will be the offbeat, circus-fashioned feast your eyes will love for, forevermore!

Check out the website HERE, for more info.


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