Spotlight on.. Kit Griffiths

Kit Griffiths is a published and award-winning artist, film-maker and poet with 14 years practice, centring intimacy. 

We spoke with them in the lead up to their exhibition Delusions of Grandma opening at Quench this April.

– Tell us a little about Delusions of Grandma?
(Including what inspired this excellent title!)

It’s a collection of redemptive (often humorous) family portraits, that have come out of the choice to return to and choose my birth family after various estrangements. 

The title was born on the night of the 2021 Turner Open Private View. I had a film and a painting in the show, and on arrival was extremely deflated to see my painting hung very high where its gloss was catching the glare of the lights. I was trying to convince myself it was fine when my friend Kelly said, “I can’t f*cking see it. They need to bring it down.” (O also, I had priced the painting at £250k + dinner at Tom Thumb Dolma Bar.)

Post private view, I joined the Pride crew for a curry and a pint at Masala Gate. Talking to another friend, Alex, I was reflecting on my own expectations, and my Nana came to mind – in my tired tipsiness I slipped and said she had ‘delusions of grandma’ by mistake. Alex and I both gasped before we laughed, and I knew it was a keeper. 

– This show is the culmination of your last three years. Could you go into a little more detail about what influenced you to this point. 

Well, I had written a letter to officially cut out one of my parents, but I couldn’t bear to send it because I imagined that they would find it annoying. I invested in an expensive and widely criticised life-coaching/communication programme called ‘The Landmark Forum’ and therein the family-wide reparations began. 

My main takeaway from the course was that if we want people to change for us – if we have the idea that they’re not good enough – then they don’t stand a chance. Our relationships don’t stand a chance. So, whilst having minimum standards and never accepting abuse, I set out to take everyone just as they are, to let us all off the hook including myself. It’s continuous work, cos we’re human, so we’ll keep messing it up as well as getting the gold, we’ll always be working out how to be together.

– Were there any challenges in the development?

So many. I’ll tell you last night’s: I have an abundance of energy and I love to be generous. There’s never a shortage of ideas,  never a shortage of output and never a shortage of love, which is lush BUT creates this un-directional love-bomb of work. So one of my biggest developments through this project is learning to trust I am enough no matter what quantity I show, and to follow my instinct to nurture myself and my viewers in a very homely/familial way. Last night I couldn’t sleep because I felt panicked by my curation. I got out of bed at 2am and I cut five pieces from the show, giving my largest wall to the sculptural installation so that this piece would no longer suffocate the visitors from the centre of the room. The suffocation effect would’ve been interesting in relation to my matriarch (!) but my choice is to mother myself and my viewers, endeavoring to offer us comfort and healing, even in highly vulnerable work.

– You ask the question “Is it possible that you do not have to be understood to be loved?” Do you know your answer?

Absolutely yes. Now that I’ve stopped trying to explain myself I’m receiving love in all sorts of forms and fashions, from profound confessions and tender conversations, to invites (to the rugby, to lunch), to prayers and memes via text, to little acts of care like my Dad stocking tinned tomatoes for my visits, now that he knows I like them. 

For me, the big revelation is that verbally explaining myself is not as compelling as simply being myself – taking others as themselves, too – and spending time together. I feel better known by someone who sees me sing karaoke than by someone who hears my 2-minute social CV. 

– You tend to move between artistic practices. What can people expect to see this time round?

Honestly I feel like Del Boy opening up a coat of hanging watches: whatever you want, I’ve got it. Painting & drawing, sculpture & installation, stills from the film (there’s a film! I’ll finish filming it IN THE GALLERY!), live performance, and selected text works from my full poetry collection, which I began with guidance from an incredible mentor – Caroline Bird – with my Arts Council England DYCP funding, and which I’m completing during my development with the Southbank Centre this year as a member of their New Poets Collective 2023/24. 

The form I have the most professional experience in is live performance, which I’ve been doing for 14 years since graduating from uni and founding Pecs Drag Kings with friends. I was secretly/quietly making poetry and fine art the whole time, until a new lover came to my home, looked at all of my work, and said, “You’re an artist. So be an artist.” They sounded annoyed, which was helpful and turned me on. That was 6.5 years ago and I’ve been a studio-holding artist (and developing the poetry with teachers and courses) ever since. I’m also still with that lover, Dre Spisto.

This is my first solo exhibition, outside of a pop-up of very mixed (rather than project-focussed) work, which I did to meet the town when we moved to Margate four years ago. Guy and Lindsey offered me this Quench show without seeing my work, because they trusted their own judgement of the cut of my jib. I was very shocked, but it makes a lot of sense and is a testament to the fact that I am constantly committing to the ideals within my art – they’re not just intellectual or philosophical ideas – the art is one element of a life working at love. 

– Where does your work take you next? 

I don’t know! I care deeply that there is a ‘next’ (the poetry collection is part of it) but I’m very open to what it looks like altogether.

And I want to share my work on a bigger scale, but there’s nothing better than the present. There won’t be anything better than sharing this project with the people who have loved and supported me on this epic journey towards my first solo show. I can’t wait to share with my family, friends, patrons, coworkers, mentors, students, and my beloved strangers. Except I can wait because there’s nothing better than the present, and I’m presently enjoying finishing the work.


– What would be your ideal Margate day?

A June morning, quiet but warm enough out, Dre and I make a flask of coffee and head for a swim. After our swim, we sit in the sun on the tidal pool wall, drinking the coffee from our little red cups, Dre doing morning pages while I binge poetry til I have to rest my eyes by looking at the glitter on the water. Once fully caffeinated, we invest in going to see the good eggs at The Good Egg. Laura greets us with, “Hello sunshines.” We bump into a thousand friends, make our evening plans (the gig we didn’t know about until now, and the karaoke we still won’t know about until we’re shouting about the cockroaches crawling up the walls in an improvised duet of Common People) and, ahead of all the things and all the friends we still don’t know but just trust will occur, we walk to our studio at OSE for a few hours’ work.

To find out more about Kit, you can visit their website and find them on instagram @kit_griffiths

Delusions of Grandma opens on 13th April 2024 at Quench and runs through to the 26th May.