Graham Knuttel was born in Dublin in 1954. His German father, who served in the R.A.F., and English mother moved from England to Ireland in 1947. Knuttel has a very eccentric family history with a grandfather involved in World War 1 and vivid memories of his sadistic grandmother trying to lock him into his father’s “huge dark wardrobe”. He admits “he can still hear her cackling and feel her nails clawing the back of his neck.”
The family on his father’s side is clouded in secrecy and mystery but his mother’s side is said to be more normal and relates closer to the arts world. Knuttel is related to the founder of the Newlyn School of Painters, Thomas Cooper Gotch as well as the famous English actor Archibald Leach AKA Cary Grant who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘To Catch a Thief’. Knuttel has a brother (Peter, father of artist Jonathan Knuttel) and sister both approximately ten years older than he is. The age gap left him with a sense of independence that left him to follow his own destiny.
Knuttel never cared much for academia and spent little time in school, rather spending his time exploring the cafe and pub society of Dublin as well as its rocky coastline. In his time away from school he began to absorb himself in drawing and art. He enrolled in the Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design at the age of eighteen and the bohemian lifestyle of art school suited him well. It was during his time at Dun Laoghaire that his training led him to his beloved craft of figurative representational painting. Although his style of painting did not receive the great acclaim it does now from a group of new American tutors. They appreciated a very different style of art work and therefore Knuttel had to make the transition from painting to sculpture to pass his final year of college. Although this transition was undesired, Knuttel discovered a new passion for the craft. He received his diploma for an exhibition of mechanical wooden sculptures of a bird as well as medieval themed pieces of a shield and a portcullis.