“The plan was to ram through the Berlin Wall” says Giles. Known for his animatronic sculptures, he is a long standing member of the Mutoid Waste Company. A collective of former squatters who in the 80’s would find and create things out of scrap metal. Inspired by the circumstances of history. They set off on a road trip with aspirational dreams to bring down the wall. The weapon of choice, an artistic battering ram made out of scrap metal.
As it happens it wasn’t needed. The resulting sculpture, created under the cover of a big party, just ended up peering menacingly over. Four weeks later the wall came down. It is for others to speculate as to whether the presence of the giant mutoid creature and the fall of the wall were indeed linked.
His latest exhibition is his biggest. Called ‘Monster‘ he will be taking over a riverside warehouse in Deptford. There visitors will be able to walk in and around the animatronic figures. Dystopian blind mice grown to the size of giants leading the detritus of civilisation. Combined with light, sound and dialogue, the experience promises to be unique.
One of the foremost sculptors of his generation. Walker has made a name for himself by adapting. Using technology both mechanical and now increasingly digital to re-create his ideas. First imagining a concept and then figuring out how to make it work. If he doesn’t know he will learn. His imagination knowing no bounds in that respect. The ideas behind ‘Monster’ having been developing for a while but only now taking shape.
We’d first been made aware of Giles work through his Peep Show exhibit. Dancing in a window in Shoreditch, it featured pole dancing robots with cameras for heads. Created originally in 2008 it had been brought back to act as a promotion for his latest campaign. Attempting to raise money to actually build ‘Monster’ he’s having to rely on crowdfunding in order to make it happen.
Raising money in such a way doesn’t seem to be where Giles feels most comfortable. Grudgingly accepting that it’s a necessity and fact of life these days. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally. Wandering around his workshop I get the impression that he’d be much happier just building. Spare parts are all around. Giant wooden legs are piled in a corner. Whilst mannequins lay stitched together on a table in the middle. The remnants of experiments. The reality of ‘Monster’ starting to emerging.
Crowdfunding is a reality though. Working with the Ben Oakley Gallery he’s already some way towards the total needed. Yet equally still some way off the amount required. “It’s hard” he tells me. “I’ve got that kind of British reserve when it come to asking people for money.” One of his guiding principles is that for the public art should be free. Especially, he says, accessible art like his.
Walker is no stranger to making immersive art experiences. Going back to his work with the Mutoid Waste Company. he has for over 30 years honed his unique, intense and physical sculptures. Working together in a kind of mechanical theatre, they tell stories through an immersion of the senses. His latest piece, ‘The Last Supper’ at the Science Museum in London, the most recent to receive critical acclaim.
‘Monster’ explains Giles is about looking at man made forces that have gone rogue. Citing the likes of religion, capitalism and technology as areas where we as a society have lost control. It is these that are being dragged along behind the monsters of the exhibit. “They’ve created devastation wherever they go” he tells whilst referring to those forces. “I think they’re undermining the foundations of who we think we are as human beings. Taking away those foundations and making us feel purposeless.”
Monster is the largest animatronic exhibit to date by Giles Walker. Money is being raised via a crowdfunding campaign which you can contribute to here. There are a number of unique rewards on offer for backers of the project.