The Bureau • Artist Spotlight

The Ken Griffiths Bureau is a creative hub founded by Ruby Griffiths in honour of her father Ken, an analogue photographer who became one of the great photojournalists of his time.

What got you in to Crypto art?

It was 2020 when I inherited my father’s photography archive. At the same time, the term NFT suddenly appeared in the media, and I was captivated by them, so I set out to find a way to involve them in our projects. I reached out to the amazing crypto artist, and friend, Remo Camerota and what started as a request for advice blossomed into an exciting collaboration. The outcome was the drop titled ‘20th Century Music Legends’.    The project includes my father’s photographs of some well-known faces, together with the work of Bruce Fleming, the man behind the iconic cover shot for Jimi Hendrix’s first LP “Are You Experienced”. In the project, you will recognise the faces of Keith Richards, The Beatles, Sting, Jimi Hendrix, and other stars. Dipped in Remo’s eccentric and colourful vision, adding hand-drawn elements and animation, the original photographs emerge renewed, witty, and contemporary, reverting to their old-fashioned version by the end.  

Where do you find your inspiration?

Every film negative I discovered in my father’s archived fuelled me with new ideas, and now that we have begun working with other photographers and artists, I am continuously inspired by their ability to breathe new life into vintage photography. 

What do you think of traditional artwork?

The opportunity to view work in real life always ignites a feeling hard to describe, but what is happening with digital art is equally exciting, and unexplored. I see so many possibilities on the horizon in both realms. Our most recent project revolves around a single shot my father took of HRH Princess Margaret. Each of the artists involved has reinterpreted the image in a contemporary tone using both a mix of traditional and non-traditional mediums, from oil painting, sculpture, blood, glass and NFTs.

Do you think your art is fulfilling a purpose?

Yes, definitely. For me it's about my Father's legacy as a creator and doing justice to his original works. A defining element of his work was his use of a Gandolfi plate camera from the 1800s - hardly used in present times - which he carried with him all around the world. After my Father’s passing in 2014, I began the process of archiving his work. It was at that point that I realised that so much more could – and should - be done with all he left behind. I has recently set up The Bureau as a place where artists and photographers from different walks of life can come together and collaborate on a range of exciting projects. At The Bureau, the past collides with the present: dressing old-fashioned analogue photography with a contemporary touch that projects it into the future of the craft while honouring its past history.

How did you start out as an artist?

With my mother as a successful producer and my father as a renowned photographer, I grew up in a very stimulating and creative environment. This fuelled my passion to pursue a career in this field, but to do it in my own way while carving my own path. I founded the film festival Thunderdance, which showcased and celebrated young talent and their incredible short films and now at the Bureau I keep supporting talent in everyone, regardless of where they come from or who they are.

Who or what inspires your work?

Lots of inspirations, but mainly my Dad, Ken Griffiths.

Which other artist(s) so you admire?

So many, but growing up, my father would show me the likes of Man Ray, the American visual artist, who often worked with his photograph imagery to create surrealist art. This fed my love of Surrealism, a while ago I went to see the Dorothea Tanning exhibition at Tate which I found absolutely exceptional, and her quote on the meaning of art stuck with me, I recognise a bit of myself in it: “Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don't see a different purpose for it now.”

Final question, what is next for you as an artist?

In the past two years, I have spent a great deal of my time among my father's old pictures of actors, pop stars, politicians, or of some woman or man in some remote corner of the world. When I came across his portrait of Princess Margaret holding a pillow, spelling a clear and arresting sentence: 'It's not easy being a Princess'. Something about this photo triggered a compelling need in me to really tell a story while celebrating my father's ability to portray the true essence of his subjects. Looking at the original portrait, hidden in the Princess' blue eyes, her mischievous grin, and in her surroundings, I could see the countless ways that story could be told. And, of course, the message on the pillow. The original image speaks to people, of the difficulty of the roles assigned to us, of humanity, freedom, longing, love, and loss. I knew that releasing the image on its own wasn't going to be enough to unlock that mystery and to start a dialogue, so I chose to step back and let Art speak for itself.  I asked a series of 22 artists to collaborate and reinterpret what they saw, offering others a chance to see the photo through their eyes, sharing their visions without any boundaries or rules of how they should interpret what they saw. This is how the 'HRH Princess Margaret – 20 Years, 20 Artworks' project came to be. Released 20 years on from her passing and with an exhibition in London, Soho from the 9th-20th February. The entire NFT collection will be available to see there and will drop on KnownOrigin on the 18th of February! 

We would like to thank The Bureau for giving up their time to collaborate on this with us.