Post-Viva musings

Clowns breaking in and morally showing up the place. osian grifford

Clowns breaking in and morally showing up the place. osian grifford

On tuesday I gave a mock Viva talk to my tutors, which was treated as the real thing. The structure of the Viva was handed to us in a brief a fortnight earlier, described as a ten minute presentation of our work spanning over 15 slide projections showing the most important representations of our Illustrations.

My Viva predominantly dealt with my thoughts and intentions post exhibition, and especially post dissertation.

Working out the kinks in my assumptions in order to get through my dissertation was a massive step forwards for me, it helped me realise that I was making decisions based on fairly naive assumptions

Diss cover comedy

Osian Grifford Dissertation Cover 2015

My recent work (and now seemingly all of it in hindsight) is about dissecting comedy, finding morality and in turn creating humorous artefacts that force others to figure out their own moral codes.

Looking back on my group exhibition ‘A sEnsE Of sOciEtY’, I see depictions of people uncomfortable with their moral codes, or maybe unable to live by their own in the modern world of widespread free information. Wars and poverty and environmental destruction and corruption and exploitation is reported from and to all over the world, and you can’t fix it all as an individual so you have to remind yourself of your own individual, local existence to feel at ease within the world.

Acrylic Paintings on Media Collage by osian grifford, 2014

Acrylic Paintings on Media Collage by osian grifford, 2014

Acrylic Paintings on Canvas against Media Collage on wood by osian grifford, 2014

Acrylic Paintings on Canvas against Media Collage on wood by osian grifford, 2014

At the time of the exhibition I thought that it was about being self-indulgent in our own worlds, despite the world being smaller then it has ever been.


My work depicts heavy subject mattes in a way that can seem light hearted or comedic. In my large acrylic canvas paintings these can seem optimistic or cynical depending on when i look at them. This is based on feedback that I’ve had from others about my work.

 'Goodbye Box-Son' by osian grifford 23.02.15

‘Goodbye Box-Son’ by osian grifford 23.02.15

I’ve recently worked most fluidly when creating impulsive surreal narratives in my sketchbook. The pressure of a canvas and detailed painting is removed and leaves space for instinctively pressing ideas to form.  Bright colour palettes and themes of social problems handled lightly are the consistencies throughout my sketchbook and paintings, which give a naive perspective on the usually cynical suggested narratives which are often on my mind as a form of amusement.


'Comedy as Moral police' badge by osian grifford

‘Comedy as Moral police’ badge by osian grifford


I’ve found the intended context for my work by working and reading within the world of disciplined comedy whilst studying comedy throughout history:

For my dissertation I’ve been the various subject matters fit for comedy throughout history, focussing mainly on;

  • Ancient Greece and Rome; for the earliest existing Joke-book ‘philogelos’
  • The Medieval period for it’s Carnivals
  • and modern stand-up comedians and humorous artefacts such as Viz

Comedy and morals are now more linked than ever, social taboos have always been used in comedy, but now there are more social anxieties and dangers used in offensive comedy.

After reading ‘A Cultural History of Humour’ (Bremmer, 97) in which he dissected the Ancient Greek Jokebook ‘philogelos’, I dissected a Jimmy Carr stand-up act in my dissertation and number-crunched his joke subject matters, which were heavily concerned:

  • Disability and specifically the Olympics
  • Homosexuality, and homophobia
  • Violence against women,
  • Health and mortality worries universal to all
  • Paedophilia
  • Neighbouring areas/cities (incest, poverty, roughness etc)
  • Class stereotypes

These are all labels or concepts which get applied to humans. Humour is derived from incompatibleness, or an ill-fit in concepts. These blanket –terms and stereotypes are ill-fitting.

A fitting Mary Douglas quote on what humour occurs when :

“something informal is attacked by something informal”

Like a stereotype, or an ill-fitting term for something very complex; the complex natures of situations struggles against the simple labels we apply to them.

descriptions like a ‘disabled person’ gives a very odd account of that person. Disability has been thrown all over them. Similarly with a ‘homosexual’, as if that’s more than a description of a part of a person’s preferences. But these terms get used for convenience purposes. Sometimes it’s an understandable use, other times it’s an uncomfortable or needless use.

So it is funnier to use these terms than to say a ‘human’ walks into a bar. A homosexual walks into a bar. A disabled person walks into a bar…. You’re trying to imagine something using vague stereotypes, which is encouraging your imagination.

'Box-Son' no.7 by osian grifford 19.02.15

‘Box-Son’ no.7 by osian grifford 19.02.15

Society Context:

…A society which tells you what the moral code is, rather than one that lets you feel it. Good and Evil are subjective, but in a hierarchal society, there’s a one size fits all good and evil, which I personally learned was bollocks from a very early age through hearing fear mongering from teachers and police at schools that contradicted what i saw and knew from home.


Clowns as police Versus police as police. By osian grifford

Clowns as police Versus police as police. By osian grifford

 My intent is to create a stronger relationship between humour and morality, to use humour as a moral police, because law and telling people how to behave is a psychologically naïve and potentially damaging way to go: it encourages the ethics which say ‘don’t be bad to others, because you might not get away with it’.

Humour doesn’t have an intrinsic relationship with morality. But humour’s key element is surprise, mixed with a temporary suspension of empathy. This temporary suspension of empathy is in many situations the key to our laughter. With this


I hope to create work that encourages people to feel for their own moral code, rather than let them rely on what they thought their moral codes were.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s