Vaughan Grylls

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Vaughan Grylls
VG at GX Gallery Nov 2014.jpg
Born (1943-12-10) December 10, 1943 (age 73)
Newark, Nottinghamshire
Nationality British
Alma mater Slade School of Fine Art
Occupation Artist, author
Known for Sculpture, photography
Style Collage/joiner photography
Spouse(s) Polly Powell

Vaughan Grylls is a British artist, photographer, and author.[1] Known for his fine art photography and sculptures, Grylls first received recognition for his 1960s pun-sculptures and, later, for his 1980s photography and panoramic photo collages.[2]

Grylls was the director of Kent Institute of Art & Design before co-founding the University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone & Rochester.[3] Grylls has work in various public collections including Unilever, Polaroid and the Arts Council of Wales.[3] Various works of Grylls are part of other public collections, such as the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and University College London.[4] He has continued to work as a photographer and has been represented by Megan Piper Ltd, London since 2012.[5]

Initially trained as a sculptor, Grylls began creating photo collages in 1977.[6] Some of his notable panoramic works include The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem (1979), Site of the Assassination of JFK (1980), and Britain Through the Looking Glass (1984).[7][8][9][10]

Additionally, Grylls has authored four books in the Then and Now series - Oxford Then and Now (2009), Cambridge Then and Now (2011),[11][12][13] Singapore Then and Now (2016) and Hong Kong Then and Now (2016).

Early life and education[edit]

Vaughan Grylls was born 10 December 1943 in Newark-on-Trent. He attended art schools at Nottingham, University of Wolverhampton, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Slade School of Fine Art.[14]


In the late 1960s, while attending the Slade School of Fine Art, Grylls gave guided tours of Cambridge to overseas visitors, and after graduating, his first teaching position was at the University of Reading,[14] followed by Homerton College, Cambridge where he taught sculpture.[15]


At Goldsmiths College in 1968, Grylls produced an exhibition of his first photographically-based pun-sculptures, each made from cardboard and called collectively 'Ludwig Wittgenstein's Palace of Pun.'[16] He took this with him to the Slade School of Fine Art and continued to make more pun-sculptures. His work was noticed at his final show at the Slade in 1970 by Jasia Reichardt, art critic and assistant director of the ICA. His first London exhibition was held at the ICA in October 1970 as one room in an exhibition entitled 'Ten Sitting Rooms.'[17]

Grylls' pun-sculpture work was also shown at an alternative exhibition space called The Gallery. The Gallery was opened in Lisson St, London in 1972 by fellow Slade graduate Nicholas Wegner. Wegner invited Grylls to show at The Gallery. The work Grylls exhibited in 1973 entitled 'An Indo-Chinese Punsculpture' was a large photo-mural commenting on the signing of the so-called Paris Peace Treaty. Wegner and Grylls then collaborated in an artistic partnership, inspired in part by Andy Warhol, from 1973 to 1975. Wegner closed The Gallery in 1978.[18]


Grylls' father died in 1977 and, thereafter, Grylls' style and focus changed. Grylls' style developed into artistic works, largely inspired by international news and political events.[19] He used photographic montage techniques to create a collection of images pinned together to produce one large image.[1] In 1977, Grylls travelled to Istanbul and used a telephoto lens to produce his first panoramic photo-collage, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. It was exhibited in 1978 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.[6][14]

His next photo-collage exhibition was in 1979 called The Wailing (Western) Wall, Jerusalem and In Flanders Fields.[20] Grylls style was influenced by several Victorian panoramic photographers and by early 1970s work by Jan Dibbets.[14] Grylls has said that his overtly political art tried, in the case of The Wailing (Western) Wall, Jerusalem, to "examine a cultural and religious icon that has had a far-reaching influence on political events today."[10]

In 1980, Grylls created panoramic collages of the sites where President John F. Kennedy on Elm Street and Lord Mountbatten in Donegal Bay were murdered.[20] William Feaver of The Observer referred to Grylls’ work as "mixed-media surveys, combining epic scale and humdrum particulars."[20]

In 1984, Grylls' 'Britain Through the Looking Glass', a twenty-eight by eight foot work of colour Xerox photographs that were taken at the British Museum in London in the "Egyptian Mummy room" was exhibited at the Atlantis Gallery in London.[9] His Greenwich Meridian appeared at the Royal Observatory and Wembley Stadium (during the England v Scotland football match).[4]


In 1984, Grylls was appointed professor of photography and video at Williams College, Massachusetts.[9] In 1989 Grylls returned to England to become Head of Art & Design at Wolverhampton Polytechnic[21] (later known as the University of Wolverhampton) and in 1996 he became director of the Kent Institute of Art & Design (KIAD).[22][23]

In 2003, Grylls proposed creating a new university of 6000+ students studying art, design, and architecture by merging the Kent Institute with the Surrey Institute of Art & Design to prevent these free-standing art colleges becoming absorbed into their local universities.[24][25] The merged institution was called the University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone & Rochester (since 2009 the University for the Creative Arts).[26][27] Grylls as founding Chief Executive of the merged institution[28] resigned soon afterwards, announcing that he intended to return full-time to his own work.

In 2014, Grylls published his art school autobiography entitled I Brought This In Case: The 1960s, Four Art Schools and Me with a Forward by Sir Christopher Frayling, the popular culture critic and former Rector of the Royal College of Art.[29]

Most recent exhibitions[edit]

  • October 2006 – Group exhibition. Selected works from The Gallery in 'Fast and Loose (my dead gallery), Fieldgate Gallery London. Organised by the Centre of Attention. With Nicholas Wegner. (see section on The Gallery, 65a Lisson Street NW1)
  • April 2007 – Solo exhibition. Places that Shaped Today's Middle East. Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London
  • February 2009 – Solo exhibition. 'Mother'. Sadler's Wells[30]
  • November 2009 – Solo exhibition. Selected retrospective of Grylls's work from 1964 to 2009. Nomad Galleries, 55 St James's Street, London SW1
  • February 2010 – Solo exhibition. 'Down Under', Chelsea Arts Club, London. Six new works resulting from a round-the-world trip in 2009 plus 'Mother'
  • March 2010 – Solo exhibition. 'Mother', Lady Chapel, Rochester Cathedral
  • July 2010 – Group exhibition. This Could Happen to You – Ikon in the 1970s. Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. 1973 installation 'An Indo-Chinese Pun-Sculpture';[31]
  • July 2010 – Solo exhibition. 'A Case for Wittgenstein', Slade School of Fine Art. A re-staging of Vaughan Grylls' 1970 graduation exhibition of Pun-Sculptures where it was first shown.
  • May 2011 – Solo exhibition. 'Grandmother', The Piper Gallery, London. Autobiographical work consisting of a WW2 baby carriage and 1000 family photographs fashioned into a life-sized WW2 German bomber[32][33][34]
  • June – August 2012 – With Edward Allington. 'Then and Now', The Piper Gallery, London.
  • January 2013 - Solo exhibition. 'Heaven's Above', Landmark Art Centre
  • November/December 2014 - Solo exhibition. 'Vaughan Grylls' Selected Retrospective 1967-2014, GX Gallery, London


  1. ^ a b "Solo exhibition from photographer Vaughan Grylls". Photography Monthly. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Holly Williams (29 July 2012). "Artistic retreat: Vaughan Grylls' charming 14th-century haven in Kent". The Independent. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Vaughan Grylls". The Piper Gallery. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Adrian Woodhouse (12 February 1984). "Using Hundreds of Prints to Produce the really big Picture". The Sunday Telegraph Magazine. London. 
  5. ^ "Then And Now" (PDF). The Piper Gallery. 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  6. ^ a b James Auer (3 November 1985). "Huge collages of small photos bring epic ideas home". Milwaukee Journal. 
  7. ^ William Feaver (11 January 1981). "Art: Vaughan Grylls". The Observer. London. 
  8. ^ Vaughan Grylls (5 February 1982). "Panorama". The British Journal of Photography. 
  9. ^ a b c Lisbet Nilson (June 1985). "Pilgrim at Plymouth Rock". New England Monthly. 
  10. ^ a b Jacob Stockinger (28 September 1985). "Fractured Looking Glass Reflects us All". The Capital Times. Madison, WI. 
  11. ^ Grylls, Vaughan; Harrison, Ian (10 May 2009). Oxford Then and Now. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-1-906388-35-5. 
  12. ^ Vaughan Grylls (25 Jul 2011). Batsford's Cambridge Then and Now. London: Batsford. ISBN 9781849940221. 
  13. ^ Oliver Stroud (29 June 2009). "Travel books: Oxford Then and Now and Wales With Your Family". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Vaughan Grylls". School of Art & Design Wolverhampton. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Cambridge past and present". Cassone. July 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Work: 1960s Ludwig Wittgenstein's Palace of Pun 1968". Vaughan Grylls. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Reichardt, Jasia. "Ten Sitting Rooms". Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, October 1970
  18. ^ John A. Walker (2002). "Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain" (PDF). I.B.Tauris Publishers. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "About Statement". Vaughan Grylls. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c William Feaver (6 February 1983). "Scrambling the Landmarks". The Observer. London. 
  21. ^ Ogden, John, 'Weekend Star', "Express and Star", Wolverhampton, 7 October 1989
  22. ^ Editorial, "The Times Higher Education Supplement". London, 5 July 1996
  23. ^ "Professor going back to the drawing board". Kent Online. 6 October 2005. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  24. ^ Utley, Alison. "The Times Higher Education Supplement"London , 2 November 2000
  25. ^ "Merger creates campuses for 6,000 students". Kent Online. 10 May 2005. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Hodges, Lucy. "The Independent" London. 6 May 2004
  27. ^ Tysome, Tony. "The Times Higher Education Supplement". London, 7 May 2005
  28. ^ 'First ever students enroll', UCA News Archive 2 September 2005.
  29. ^ Vaughan Grylls (28 July 2014). I Brought This In Case: The 1960s, Four Art Schools and Me. Vaughan Grylls. ASIN B00M8JIVJI. 
  30. ^ Sumpter, Helen. 'In the Studio – Vaughan Grylls'. 'Time Out'. London. 12–18 February 2009.
  31. ^ Chapman, Simon. Watkins, Jonathan. Catalogue for 'This Could Happen to You – Ikon in the 1970s', 21 July – 5 September 2010. Ikon Gallery Birmingham 2010.
  32. ^ Gleadill, Colin. 'Market News'. 'The Daily Telegraph Tuesday, 3 May 2011
  33. ^ Piper, Megan. 'A Gallery for Riper Artists'. 'Night & Day Blog' ,'The Spectator' May 2011
  34. ^ 'Artist captures the moment his life was saved in war', 'Hackney Gazette, London' Thursday 5 May 2011

Further reading[edit]

  • Myfanwy Kitchin The Guardian London 27 February 1970
  • Vaughan Grylls 'A Case in Point', The Sunday Times London 28 March 1971
  • This is not an advertisement', Studio International London, Vol 182 no 935 July/August 1971
  • Vaughan Grylls, 'Benefitting from a Holiday', The Sunday Times London 29 August 1971
  • John A Walker, 'Contemporary Art, Flash Art Milan, nos 48/49 October/November 1974
  • 'Time, Words and the Camera' Exhibition catalogue edited by Jasia Reichardt and published by Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum Graz, Austria 1976
  • Vaughan Grylls, 'Artists Thoughts on the 70's in Words and Pictures'. Edited by Jasia Reichardt. Studio International, London, vol 195 no 991, 1981
  • Waldemar Januszczak, The Guardian 6 January 1981
  • Richard Cork, The Standard London 22 January 1981
  • Brandon Taylor, Introductory essay to 'The Panoramic Image'. Exhibition catalogue published by John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton 1981
  • 'Vaughan Grylls. Through the Looking Glass' . Exhibition catalogue with notes by the artist and an introductory essay by John Carlin. Published by the University of Wisconsin, Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin, November 1985
  • 'Vaughan Grylls. Wolverhampton Return' . Exhibition catalogue with notes by the artist and an introductory essay by Christopher Bailey. Published by Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Polytechnic, September 1989
  • 'Vaughan Grylls.'White Man's Tales'. Exhibition catalogue with notes by the artist and an introductory essay by Professor Ann H Murray. Published by Wheaton College, Massachusetts, November 1994
  • Sacha Craddock. Essay accompanying 'Mother', Sadlers Wells Theatre, London, February 2009
  • Jasia Reichardt. Exhibition address for 'A Case for Wittgenstein', Slade School of Fine Art, 21 July 2010. See under 'Media'
  • James Putnam. Introductory essay to 'Then and Now'. Exhibition catalogue published by The Piper Gallery 2012
  • Jackie Wullschlager. Financial Times. 23/24 June 2012
  • Holly Williams. The Independent on Sunday. 29 July 2012
  • Huon Mallalieu. The Times. 5 January 2013
  • Nicholas Usherwood. Galleries. March 2013
  • Megan Piper. Introductory essay to 'Vaughan Grylls' Retrospective exhibition catalogue published by GX Gallery 2014. ISBN 978-0-9555879-2-4

External links[edit]