A 7.5 metre wide panda’s head along with a 1970s caravan, a lamp post rescued from the M42, a pair of painted scaffolding ramps, a heap of sand, a stack of building blocks, a pile of used mattresses and a single bicycle appeared on the disused platform of Gloucester Road Underground station.
For this sculptural installation Life Is a Laugh, Brian Griffiths constructed an epic 70-metre long site-specific artwork. Conscious of the transitional nature of both the site and its occupants, he aims in this work to tap into the character of his fleetingly captive audience, exaggerating a sense of expectation tinged with boredom, mental doodling and day-dreaming.
Griffiths’ interest in the theatrical is key to the selection and placement of the eclectic series of objects that run the course of the platform, transforming it into a giant shelf-like home to abandoned detritus. Punctuated by melodramatic lighting intended to provoke an “activated” viewing on the part of the audience, scale, materials and shape present a visual assault course encouraging the eye to scramble across the work from one end to the other.
The skill in Griffiths’ work is bound up in the physical making process. He selects and juxtaposes seemingly incongruous yet distinctly familiar objects whose inherent nature imbue a situation or environment with stories, memories, sensations and actions to construct a space for imagination and mental play.
The magic and humour in his work stems from the realisation of such liberating conceptual architecture out of contrastingly cumbersome earthbound resources. Previous exhibitions, for example, have encouraged excursions to other imagined places (and consequently other psychological states) via ramshackle contraptions such as a cardboard super-computer fashioned from household materials and a galleon constructed from wooden furniture.
Click here to see all the Gloucester Road Commissions
Hi I love the Brian Griffiths Life is a laugh poster . Is there anywhere that I can but this as a print ? Karen
I greatly enjoyed the latest in a long series of commission at Gloucester Road station. To branch out into three dimensions and be less circumscribed by the exisiting architecture was a very welcome move. Brian Griffith’s work creates a moment of Fellini in circumstances normally less associated with poetic reverie. The installation injects a moment of humor and visual pleasure that seem like a generous gift to all those stressed-out Christmas shoppers.
the giant panda head is the scariest thing i’ve ever seen, it looks like some ghostly figure with hollow eyeballs and scaffolding over it, like something out of my nightmares, i wish it would be removed asap because i cant even go past this station anymore and its the nearest one to my house, please stop this traumatisement already!
Coming back from a rare day without children, the exhibition was an unexpected treat, a random collection of intrigue and a enjoyable jolt back to real life after a day of viewing more traditional artforms in the serenity of the VA and Tate – the PA exhibition all the better for it. Even more striking, the posters which are beautiful in their own right. Long may you continue to surprise us!
was up in town for a trip to the cinema with my 3 year old and after a long day spent trying to keep her amused and not losing her in the crowds, saving her from random cyclists and being turned away from a restaurant when we asked to be moved to another table we were travelling back on the underground when i saw the poster which made me laugh out loud. please can you let me know where i can obtain a copy of the poster as it would be a great daily reminder of how lifen should be!
Hi, I’m a graphic designer working in London, I really really love the Life is a Laugh poster… Is there anywhere I could purchase a print?
I didn’t connect the poster at Ladbroke Grove to the old caravan i spotted at Gloucester Road several weeks before – but now i have looked online i have all the information…. not that it matters. Both are ingenious and fun. Made me sit up and take notice. Thank you for bringing some fun to the humdrum. I saw the poster again at Northwick Park. I have tried to obtain a poster but they have both gone!! They didn’t stay posted for long. I am disappointed – because apparently they just get thrown away… i thought it would be beneficial to my state of mind to be able to see that poster regularly – like on my wall. Any chance of a poster of Life is a Laugh?
This cannot be called any form of art – it is simply a junk yard badly arranged on the platform. I can only describe it as a hazard to the travelling public and should be removed asap
I am a huge fan of Platform for Art and the work that is being done to brighten up the tube. However, I think this piece is very weak compared to previous works at Gloucester Road. I didnt even realise it was finished and it looks a real shambles. My friends and colleagues think the same way. What is the relevance of a huge panda’s head and a caravan?? Im looking forward to this exhibition coming to an end.
great, thoroughly enjoyed it. great panda.
Between trains, loitering at Gloucester road – The materials I look at across on the opposite platform are not grand, they’re poor – there’s no bombast. I see an obstacle course where a hop, a skip and a jump landed with a bounce and a flourish. Between trips and falls, daily heroics can result in a light swagger. . thank you
Life is a Laugh. Unusual to see a public art commission that ambitiously deals with its place in the world. The artwork takes the architectural space and the particular location to make a piece that is oddly in place but wildly absurd. An intelligent and thought provoking artwork that does not fall into the usual clichés of public art commissions, but instead takes these conservative conventions and bends them. A fantastical and bemusing artwork, Jack my son loves it. Well done Platform For Art. Best Regards Astrid Markowski
What a quirky pleasure to find this work on the platform. It first made me smile and then think. Thank you!
Serious question Can I have the bicycle when the exhibition is over?
the art work at gloucester road always looks amazing but this art work has suprsed it self and does the station and the artis proud! i really like getting off the train in the morning and looking at. I have to say good job and hope to see more art work by this artist there soon!