Artist Q&A: Platon H on ‘Creatures & Creations’

Earlier in the month, Design Insider was invited by BCFA member, Revival Corporate Cleaning’s MD, David Cumplen to attend a beautiful art exhibition at the historic Waddesdon Manor. 

You may well of heard of the Rothschild Species collection, held by the Natural History Museum. Well, this is were the artist Platon H drew his inspiration for his latest works being shown at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. H Platon PortraitPlaton H work is an abstract look at nature and this exhibition transforms Rothschild’s collection into digital collages. Wings, feathers and plants have all been manipulated into striking pieces that he hopes can be used in a multitude of ways.  Dare we say carpets, wallcoverings, fabrics…?

After David showed us round the exhibition, he was kind enough to put us in contact with Platon himself where we were able to ask him a few questions about his work. Take a look at what we discussed here…

KN: Tell me about yourself, what do you do?

PH: I am now a newly retired diplomat and have been creating art out of various elements from nature and organic surfaces for the last 30 years.

I have lived In India, Greece, France, Belgium, England, Vietnam and Morocco. In each of these countries I was always drawn by and wondering through food markets which provided endless sources of raw materials and inspiration from local products and wild life. Throughout the years, these have included shells, seaweeds, sea urchins, fish skin and bones, leaves, feathers, horns, butterfly wings, nutshells, cheese rind, peppers, fruit rind and more…

Initially my work consisted of 3D surfaces and installations or sculptures from these raw materials, which were geometrically arranged to create unusual patterns, and most of all to show the endless wealth, knowledge and beauty that lies in nature just beneath our eyes and which is so often forgotten and abused. Gradually, I moved to more abstract ways of representing those, and developed my work through high resolution images of all these elements, for ecological purposes and in order to be able to play indefinitely with colours, patterns and shapes, whilst still showing the depth and infinite variation emanating from nature.platon close up webKN: How did you get involved with the Natural History Museum and this project?

PH: After my exhibition in Paris DEYROLLE’S in 2007, I was searching for new projects and materials and found a Rothschild Butterfly in their original collections, which was so beautiful. In order to make an art piece with it, I would have needed at least 200 pieces, which was impossible to get as they were so expensive, but also crucially would ruin really rare collectable species.

But I was also astonished to see that the butterfly had the name of a banker. From then on I discovered and fell in love with the extraordinary person that was Walter Rothschild and his intense passion for nature that we shared. With the help of my son and his computer skills, I decided to apply my methods of assembling organic materials using high resolution pictures of the fauna and flora. Being so impressed by Walter and his discoveries, I started ten years ago to work on some of the Rothschilds, in particular on those which inspired me to show the abstract in Nature. I presented my project and work to Lord R, which was received with enthusiasm and was then realised thanks to the wonderful team at Waddesdon and Tring NHM.exhibiton plaon webKN: What was your goal with this project? And do you think you achieved this?

PH: With this project,  I wanted to show that for more than 3000 years, painters where inspired by nature and that there is no reason to stop because of abstraction or conceptual art movements which appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Wassily Kandisky was saying in 1910 that one day the real and the abstract will join and create a biphony.

Abstract is in Nature and we have to see it and develop it in our creations, so art can serve to glorify Nature, and unfold its endless minutiae and beauty, in order for human beings to be forever reminded of where it comes from and the crucial need to respect it. In that I think the my goal was and is being achieved.

KN: The inspiration for this project is obviously nature and wildlife, but you may not necessarily realise that looking at some of the finished designs – Can you tell us about your process and how you get to your finished piece?

PH: You are right, one cannot always necessarily tell that the work is directly created from nature and wildlife, and that is not necessarily the primary intention, although as said before, I have been wanting to look for the abstract in Nature. Its hard to explain how I work to arrive at my results. Even using the machine, my sense of aesthetics and gut feeling are mainly what lead me to each end piece, I cannot explain it in any other ways.CH_Platon H and Tring Natural History Museum_Creatures and Creations_2017_MF_a web

Creatures and Creations, Waddesdon Manor, 2017. Above Photo: Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

KN: You were given access to hundreds of images and have only used a select few for this exhibition, what do you plan to do with the other images?

PH: Yes the possibilities of creating images is nearly infinite just like Nature or even the Universe. What I am intending to do with all of them, I do not really know, though it is a real wealth to possess them. But of course my main wish is to share them to other people and make my initiative with Nature known to as many people as possible.

KN: What is your favourite exhibition you have been to yourself recently?

PH: I am currently living in Morocco, recently there were two big exhibitions organized in Rabat, Giacometti and Picasso. Both where fantastic.close up platon webYou can still visit the exhibition until Sunday 29th October at Waddesdon Manors, Coach House Gallery. For more information visit waddesdon.org.uk

David Cumplen of Revival Corporate Cleaning is taking on the role of  Platon’s UK agent and if you think you would be interested in collaborating with Platon on a project please either call David on 07973 271 587 or email david@revivalcorporatecleaning.co.uk

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About Kate Nannery

Kate is the Marketing & Membership Executive for the BCFA. She thinks that the beauty of design comes from great craftsmanship and has a masters degree in tea-consumption. If you would like to appear in Design Insider, please email kate@thebcfa.com
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