studio catherine griffiths


A Playlist : CG >> CG

by Catherine Griffiths


***Laurie Anderson will punctuate this hour***

Invited to come up with a playlist for the DPAG Late Breakfast Show hosted by Chloe Geoghegan (director of Blue Oyster Art Project Space), these tracks — carefully selected and sequenced — are from my earlier days as a young design student and graduate, with one or two exceptions, helped (or hindered) by a few notes for Chloe along the way:


<< listen >>

1. Sharkey’s Day
Artist: Laurie Anderson
Album: Mister Heartbreak
1984 (the same year I started at Wellington Polytechnic’s School of Design)

In 1986, I saw Laurie Anderson perform Natural History in Wellington, NZ. She has to be my all-time top lyricist, musician, performer, avant-garde artist.

2. No Score
Artist: Zyklus / John L. Walters
Album: Virtual Realities

Before taking on the editorship of Eye magazine, Walters was “a musician, composer and producer in his first life, and moves seamlessly in and out of an infinite improvisation, where music and design play with, off and against each other. “Graphic designers are like session musicians,” he says, describing the selfless ingredient of collaboration.” — John & Eye, 2011

During a visit to NZ in late 2010 to speak at a design conference (Blast) and after Bruce Connew had photographed Walters wading in the sea, he swapped a copy of Virtual Realities (turned out he gave us the CD inscribed to his parents!) and several issues of the audio journal Unknown Public co-founded and edited by Walters (original identity and art direction by John Warwicker and Tomato; later issues included designs by Richard Hollis, Stuart Bailey, Lucy Ward and Jonathan Barnbrook) for a couple of Bruce’s photo/artist books. (Next time we meet, John, we promise to give back your parents’ copy!)

Critical Notice, by UP in collaboration with Bmic (British Music Information Centre) designed by James Goggin

Later, after learning of our interest in dance (our youngest son is an experimental dancer/choreographer), Walters introduced us to Jun Miyake the Japanese artist, composer, song writer, who started out as a jazz trumpeter. Miyake composed tHe heRe aNd afTer for Wim Wenders’ film Pina. This next track is a collaboration with Sublime, French Tokyo-based singer:

3. Chat Soupire
Artist: Jun Miyake and Sublime
Album: Ludic

4. Strange Angels
Artist: Laurie Anderson
Album: Strange Angels

A digression from the more performance-based, experimental works, Strange Angels is incredibly beautiful.

5. Heavy Whispers
Artist: Yello
Album: You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess

My collection of Yello records includes a Limited Edition boxed set of 12-inch yellow vinyl (1633/3000). In a black and white dream recently, it was late at night, I was walking, and I came across Dieter Meier sitting on a bench, lit by a street lamp. As I approached, he rose and put out his hand. We shook hands, gave a nod, and I continued on my way. Back in the late 80s, as a 22 year-old off to Europe, I’d yearned to meet Yello.

6. Einstein A Go-Go
Artist: Landscape
Album: From the Tea Rooms of Mars ... To the Hell-Holes of Uranus

In 1974, long before the quartet Zyklus, the afore-mentioned Walters was part of synthpop band Landscape, known for their 1981 hits Einstein A Go-Go and Norman Bates (the music video is fantastic). In 2011, I scored the vinyl (cover design also a John Warwicker, et al) in Wellington at Slow Boat Records!

I also happened upon a cover I’d designed as a student for AOTEAROA, produced by Jayrem Records — now I have two copies in my modest collection. Also designed an album cover for another Māori reggae band, Dread Beat & Blood. Made by hand — this is all pre-computer — I’d sliced up the black and white photographs, used a coarse-half-tone dot in the green, pasted up my bromides of typesetting — Futura Condensed and Expanded, spaced out — overlaid with red brush strokes of movement. Looking at it now, this is another design of its time!

7. Paranoimia
Artist: The Art of Noise
Album: The Best of the Art of Noise

Avant-garde synthpop group formed in early 1983, their name still strikes me as being so precise. I used the first few bars of Paranoimia for a 6 minute 40 second talk I gave at Think Outside, Design Minds, APDL, Brisbane. (Zip straight to 25:42 to listen)

8. Walking and Falling
Artist: Laurie Anderson
Album: Big Science

9. Showroom Dummies
Artist: Kraftwerk
Album: Trans Europe Express

A joint favourite of Bruce’s and mine (we often play to start the day) — the lyrics still seem as relevant now as they were back then.

Back to Jun Miyake ...

10. Laminin
Artist: Jun Miyake with Nina Hagen
Album: Lost Memory Theatre — Act 1

German actress/vocalist Nina Hagen is another jolt back to the ’80s — to hear her recent collaboration with Jun Miyake, this for me really captures her incredible vocal qualities.

11. The Place Where You Go To Listen
Artist: John Luther Adams

In 2008 I experienced this piece first-hand in Fairbanks, having just given a talk at the Alaska Design Forum lecture series, entitled Journeying Through the Landscape of Passion, Disappointment and Hope. A sound-and-light installation, TPWYGTL is an infinite musical work controlled by natural events occurring in real time — seismological, meteorological, and geomagnetic data is fed into a computer and transformed into an intricate, vibrantly coloured field of electronic sound. It’s fairly long, I’m sure Luther Adams wouldn’t object to a fade, Chloe .......... Read Alex Roth’s Song of the Earth in The New Yorker (via Mary Barr, who found this for me after I returned home).

12. Excellent Birds
Artist: Laurie Anderson
Album: Mister Heartbreak

Occasionally I sign off with “excellent birds” in an email, or say it out aloud — never know if the receiver receives, but no matter, it just flies into the air ................

Thank you, Chloe.

Listen: CG >> CG

/ Catherine Griffiths, 2014

Inner sleeve, with band members (that’s John L. Walters to the left), designed by John Warwicker.


Not in the playlist, but in my box: House Couture, Jean Paul Gaultier’s How To Do That (In a New Way), 1989


/ music © the artists, thank you / photographs © Catherine Griffiths


04 writing & critique


An installation on an installation on an installation ...
Artist statement, »catherine griffiths : SOLO IN [ ] SPACE« A documentation, Pocca, CHINA
September 2021

Porto Design Summer School 2017
Looking back on the fifth edition
April 2018

Notes from ‘Designing the perfect photobook’
A short talk as part of a panel discussion, PhotobookNZ
March 2016

A meditation
Sir Ian Athfield, 1940 — 2015
by Catherine Griffiths
Architectural Centre, NZ
April 2015

The Design Kids interview
The Design Kids, Jul 2015

A Playlist : CG >> CG
by Catherine Griffiths
DPAG Late Breakfast Show, NZ, Aug 2014

Body, Mind, Somehow: The Text Art of Catherine Griffiths
by Gregory O’Brien
Art New Zealand #150, NZ, 2014

Nothing in Mind
by Chloe Geoghegan
typ gr ph c, Aug 2014

typ gr ph c in Strips Club
by Catherine Griffiths
Strips Club journal, Mar 2014

In the Neighbourhood
by Catherine Griffiths
Desktop #294, Australia, 2013

Interview by Heath Killen
Desktop #294, Australia, 2013

FF ThreeSix
by Catherine Griffiths
Typographica, Mar 2013

A note on the D-card
by Catherine Griffiths
Apr 2013

Shes Got Legs
by Lee Suckling
Urbis, NZ, Jan 2013

Truly, No Idea
by Catherine Griffiths
for Flash Forward, Desktop, Australia, Nov 2012

Look for the purple lining
by Catherine Griffiths
Eye Blog, UK, Mar 2012

The Big Idea, NZ, Jun 2011

Shots in the air
by Catherine Griffiths
Eye Blog, UK, Jan 2011

John & Eye
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign 110, NZ, Jan 2011

Quite a Blast
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign, NZ, Jan 2011

Inner-City Modality
by Mercedes Vicente
ProDesign, NZ, Aug 2010

Beautiful World of Typography
by Catherine Griffiths
excerpt from a talk, Govett-Brewster Gallery, NZ, Jun 2009

For the record
by Catherine Griffiths
Introduction to TypeSHED11, NZ, Feb 2009

Locating Our Feet
by Catherine Griffiths
Threaded, NZ, Oct 2008

Notes on Feijoa
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign, NZ, Apr 2007

Life in Italics
by Helen Walters
Print, New York, Sep-Oct 2006

Writing by Types
by Justine Clark
Artichoke, Australia, Apr 2003

A 60 minute playlist

DPAG Late Breakfast Show with Chloe Geoghegan, August 9th, 2014

related links


CG >> CG on Spotify


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