Carne Griffiths, tea with ink

Originally from Liverpool, Griffiths graduated from the Kent Institute of Art and Design in Maidstone in 1995. After completing a one-year KIAD fellowship and moving to London he served an apprenticeship at the longest-established gold wire embroidery firm in the world. Here he worked as a gold wire embroidery designer for twelve years, eventually becoming the creative director. Carne produced intricate designs for the military and the film, theatre, fashion and advertising industries. His designs were used for the uniforms in the films Valkyrie, The Last King of Scotland, and in particular his ‘Red Death Coat’ was used in The Phantom of the Opera. Carne’s elaborate floral designs for Asprey were included in their first ever catwalk collection and his work was featured on the embroidered cover of the 80th Royal Variety Performance programme in 2008.

Carne Griffiths Art

Carne Griffiths at work in his London studio (Click photp to enlarge).

Since establishing his own studio in 2010, Carne has exhibited in the UK at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy, the London Art Fair in both 2011 and 2012, and overseas at Urban in Ibiza in 2011 and Arts After Dark, New Orleans in 2010. Carne also collaborated with the British photographer Rankin for a feature in the 2nd edition of Hunger Magazine early in 2012.

Carne Griffiths Fly Art

Carne Griffiths ‘Fly’ Ink and tea drawing (Click photo to enlarge).

Carne Griffiths 'The Red Flower - dissecting elements from nature and fashion photography Ink and tea' drawing Art

Carne Griffiths ‘The Red Flower’, dissecting elements from nature and fashion photography Ink and tea’ drawing (Click photo to enlarge).

Carne Griffiths challenges conventional portraitures with his blend of human, geometric and floral forms. What you would not have guessed is that his method relies on ink and liquids such as tea, brandy and vodka.

Carne Griffiths ‘Beneath the White’ Original painting in ink, tea and graphite (Click photo to enlarge).

He uses unconventional mediums to translate human and floral forms into seductive, penetrating images. Working primarily with liquids such as tea, brandy, vodka and calligraphy ink, Griffiths’ work blurs distinctive boundaries, manifesting the connection between the figurative and the abstract.

Griffiths’ relationship with art stems back to childhood, from which he recalls, “My earliest memory of drawing was creating spaceships from interlocking triangular shapes and repeatedly drawing the head of an Alsatian dog.” These reoccurring patterns and structures developed into a two-year apprenticeship, and later a 12-year career, as a gold wire embroidery designer for M.H & Company. After years of producing handdrawn embroidery designs for clients such as the Sultan of Oman and Chanel, Griffiths departed from the formatted, prescribed lines of embroidery design and embarked on an individual art career of illustration and drawing. Commenting on the influence of his past in embroidery on his art today, Griffiths claims that the training of composition and flow of line has had a tremendous impact on the way he utilises space: “I used to draw monograms often, and to create a successful monogram you need to achieve a balance between positive and negative space, and to create something of an asymmetrical balance. I think subconsciously I apply many of these principles to my drawings of floral and portraiture pieces.”

Carne Griffiths 'Order' Art

Carne Griffiths ‘Persephone’ detailed pen and ink drawing (Click photo to enlarge).

Griffiths is on an incredible journey – one that combines classic forms of aesthetics and beauty with new, innovative mediums and impressions. Fascinated by the effect of repetition and balance, Griffiths is an investigative creator who achieves artistic catharsis through the process, rather than the outcome, of his art. “My work is about energy and patterns to create a certain rhythm within the piece. If everything resonates correctly the piece balances and is successful. I get excited when a piece is progressing in a positive way, but when dissatisfied with parts of the work, destruction and rebuilding, is of equal importance. I think my most successful works are those which have undergone at least partial destruction of the image. Just like in life, we don’t always get things right the first time. It is a learning process.”

Soon again at: Moniker Art Fair, Truman Brewery, London UK, October 2015

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For commissions or enquiries about original artwork please contact

by Jean Amr

Carne Griffiths 'Anotherplace' Art

Carne Griffiths ‘Anotherplace’  (Click photo to enlarge).

Carne Griffiths 'Themiracle' Art

Carne Griffiths ‘Themiracle’ (Click to enlarge photo).

Carne Griffiths 'Order' Art

Carne Griffiths ‘Order’ (Click to enlarge

Gabrielle Chanel in her suite at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937



The Ritz Hotel in Paris at the Place Vendôme, is arguably a museum in itself with all the clandestine history that went on behind those doors, but it turns out the hotel has been hiding one very expensive piece of art history in particular all these years, not in a dusty attic but in Coco Chanel’s former suite no less.

As you might be aware, in the summer of 2012, the Ritz closed for the first time since César Ritz opened the hotel in 1898, to undergo a two year renovation project. All the furniture and valuables of the hotel are being stored in a secret location until the project is complete. But before the hotel’s contents were removed, a large-scale inventory was conducted before closure.

Coco Chanel at the Ritz Paris

A room with a view: Coco Chanel at her rooftop apartment at the Ritz, Paris

When the inventory team began accounting for the opulent furnishings of the famous Coco Chanel suite, where the designer called home for 37 years until her death in 1971, a painting in the drawing room caught the undivided attention of the hotel’s art advisor, Joseph Friedman.

“When I saw this painting in the suite, I had to take a step back. It had a very powerful impact,” Mr. Friedman, former curator of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s residence in Paris, told the Agence France Presse. “The use of colour and the movement are remarkable. It was clearly the work of a major 17th century French master.”

le brun

Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The ‘mystery’ 17th century painting hanging on the drawing room wall of Coco Chanel’s suite, Friedman’s colleague found the initials CLBF and a date, 1647, but the mysterious tableau depicting the ritual slaying of Trojan princess Polyxena had no record of purchase or installation in The Ritz archives, much less any information about the work.

Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie’s France specialist of the 17th century spotted the painting hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite a month before the hotel’s closure and instantly recognised it. “I thought it was a Le Brun straight away,” he said. “It was very well preserved. It was really quite moving.”


Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The initials stand for Charles Le Brun Fecit, Charles Le Brun being a dominant figure in 17th-century French art, and declared by many as ‘the greatest French artist of all time’. Fecit is a latin word that previously appeared on works of art next to the artist’s name, meaning ‘he (or she) made it’. 

“The influence of Poussin is obvious,” says Friedman, referring to LeBrun’s works which were notably often inspired by the master of baroque art, Nicolas Poussin. And although experts have not found any contemporary record of the painting, the oil painting has been officially identified as an early work by Le Brun  (1619-1690), making it more than 400 years old. “No-one is in any doubt that it is a genuine Le Brun,” according to Friedman.

Gabrielle Coco Chanel Ritz hotel Paris

Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in her suite 302, at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937, published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1937, this photo was chosen for the Chanel No.5 advertisement.

Dubbed by Christie’s as The Sacrifice of Polyxena, the painting has been hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite for decades, if not longer. Nobody knew it was there or even existed. Since there are embarrassingly no records for it, it’s anyone’s guess how it got there. Perhaps Mademoiselle Chanel herself could have brought it in quietly during the German occupation of Paris. Coco lived at the Ritz throughout World War II. She also had highly questionable relationships with the Nazi’s who were notorious for looting valuable art collections belonging to wealthy French (Jewish) families as well as major museums.


The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Or it could have already been on the premises when César Ritz purchased the property– although the fact that the original 1705 building was so extensively rebuilt during its conversion into a luxury hotel would make the latter hard to believe.

But even harder to believe is that after Chanel’s death when an expert inventory team no doubt went through the three room suite with a fine-toothed comb, the 17th century masterpiece hanging right in front of them on the wall went ignored.

Shocking still, before the suite was reopened to the world’s elite at €10,000 a night, art historians and interior specialists as well as Karl Lagerfield had even been called in to recreate the world Chanel lived in and to actually research the original furniture, decorative objects, the fabrics, even the wallpaper– and still no one noticed the paining staring right at them.  Perhaps if any of the wealthy guests over the years had possessed some real artistic knowledge, they would have made an offer on the painting at reception.


Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris

No one did, and today the painting by Charles Le Brun has a pre-sale estimate of €500,000. It will go on display in New York temporarily and be auctioned by Christie’s in Paris in April, where the money raised will go to a foundation established by businessman Mohamed Al Fayed. Mr. Al Fayed is of course the owner of the Hotel Ritz, who set up the charitable foundation in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana. They dined together at the Ritz just before their fatal car crash in 1997. “Mohamed Al Fayed decided to sell it because he thinks its quality means it should be in a museum,” Friedman said. “It deserves to be part of a major collection.”