that’s a cool supermarket

in a little while i’ll be on my way to penzance to see the imran qureshi exhibition at the exchange and at the newlyn art gallery (here’s the page from the gallery’s website), but before i leave the house…

it’s about a supermarket. a big box supermarket that’s part of a national chain that i never use, in no small part because it’s owned by a gargantuan US retailer that will never, ever get a penny of what little money i have. and yet, i gotta say, the new ASDA on south quay in hayle, cornwall, is a phenomenal building. i know, ASDA. but, the building is beautiful. it sits in the landscape like it grew there, it works with all the surrounding structures, especially the railway bridge that is more or less next to it. it’s shape is a big parallelogram, but it’s hard to get a handle on that looking at it from the ground. frankly, i’m a little in love with this building right now.

the architect is FCBStudios, here’s the page on their website about the project

hayle’s south quay is listed, and it’s in the middle of a world heritage site, so the fact of this huge building in the midst of that, might seem offputting. but consultation was done all the way along with everyone from the local council to UNESCO, to make sure it would be done in a manner sympathetic to the area. local materials were used in its construction. and in a nice coda to the story, when the community wasn’t happy with the giant green ASDA signs after the building was finished, the corporation replaced them with stainless steel ones. it’s the only ASDA in the country without big green signs. and did i mention, it’s a beautiful building. i’m going to see it from the train today, on the way to penzance, so that’ll be a new perspective. i probably won’t ever be able to shop there, but man i’ll get a lot of pleasure from standing outside looking at it.

hayle2 hayle3 hayle4 hayle5 hayle6 southquay1 southquay2

i don’t know much about football, but i know what i like

last week, i became a colin kaepernick fan. before last week, i’m pretty sure i didn’t know who he was. then he sat down during the national anthem at a football game (actually, he did similar at all the 49rs preseason games, the game against the packers was the one where a reporter noticed him and asked him about what he was doing). and then, as most everyone probably knows by now, the internet was engulfed by a shit storm of boiling, self-righteous outrage directed at kaepernick and his blatant disregard for everything decent and upright in america.

hateful memes found their way onto my FB feed, each with its requisite contrail of spittle-flecked commentary spewed forth by blustering, spleen-venting keyboard hammerers who seemed to take a sort of perverse pleasure in being offended by what they alleged to be kaepernick’s lack of patriotism, lack of talent on the field, lack of personal exposure to oppression (because he’s a rich, privileged, mixed-race athlete raised by white parents so what would he know about it, how dare he), naivete, thoughtlessness, disrespect, etc. reading that stuff makes me really tired, but i confess, i often can’t help myself.

i inched away from the meme-ranting and started reading actual articles and blogs with actual words and sentences, but a lot of them haven’t been much better. Prejudice and racism don’t look any less pernicious, even when they’re dressed up with fancy writing and ostensibly reasoned arguments. Luckily, I finally started to tap into the wealth of support that Kaepernick has received, and as a result i have, over the past week, read a lot of fantastic work by thoughtful, sensitive people who’ve brought – in addition to support for kaepernick and his decision to protest – nuance, perspective and humour to the discussion.

man oh man, i feel like i haven’t done anything for a week except read about colin kaepernick (i have done other stuff, my next post is going to be a wee painting i made of a grumpy owl), and i’m exhausted. for 24 hours i’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate my feelings about kaepernick, his protest and the reactions to it. about a half an hour ago i finally figured out a good place to start.

i don’t support kaepernick because of his bravery or patriotism. i don’t support him because of the first amendment. i don’t support him because his protest has allowed legions of braying racist hotheads make themselves look like assholes in print (although i’d be lying if i didn’t admit to deriving a wee bit of pleasure from that part of it). i support colin kaepernick because i agree with him. i agree with him that systemic racism and the oppression of black people and police brutality are serious problems in america that are not yet being adequately confronted, discussed and dealt with. i hope that he continues his efforts. i hope that more athletes join him. this week i can add eric reid and jeremy lane and nate boyer to the list of american football players i can actually name, and i hope that in the coming weeks that list’ll grow. frankly, i hope the 49rs front office will call the santa clara police dept’s bluff about threatening to pull their officers off the game detail. and this may be one too far, but i also hope that segment of the american population that continues to center this discussion on ridiculous assertions of kaepernick’s lack of patriotism etc., will come to its senses and join in the real discussion of how we as a society do the hard work needed to get past all the bullshit and be right with each other.

what’s going on

over the past week, i’ve read far too much ‘ryan lochte olympic scandal’ coverage, and far too much ‘marina abramovic insults the entire agoriginal and torres strait islander community’ coverage, but at least it means my consumption of ‘oh my god donald trump’ coverage has gone down, proving there’s always a silver lining. i intend to write at more length about lochte and abramovic (probably not in the same oiece, but who knows?), so if you’re bored of those subjects, be sure and avoid me (or the virtual me, anyway). i’ve repeatedly broken one of the cardinal rules of the internet this past week – don’t read the comments. but i’ve put my hand on that hot plate again and again recently, and boy has it been depressing.

anyway, heres some stuff:

rebekah raymond’s piece about marina abramovic in catalogue magazine.

steph harmon, also on abramovic in the guardian. in the article, harmon speaks to Yindjibarndi artist Katie West, whose profile, also in the guardian, is worth a read.

an article in mashable uk led me to those others, so thanks mashable.

found some delicious pottery…

and while hanging out with the lovely and talented phil magee, threw a pot at Flameworks, thanks christina for all your help. now i’ve conceived roughly 14 projects that involve making a lot of pots. so, there’s that.

photo of matt in a hat at a potter's wheel

here’s a good unpicking of debord’s ‘society of the spectacle’

and some thoughts on zombie urbanism.

what else?

made photos of waves

monday waves 22

and before i forget, new galleries…

mostly recent (2015/16) paintings on panel

a series of paintings i made when i was in seattle in 2012

and a new look drawing page

that’ll do nicely…thanks for watching.

green plastic man in a woodland landscape

line in the stones – tidelines no.41

batten bay beach, southern end, just over the first outcropping of rock.

8 july 2016

stone with a line through it placed on a larger stone outcropping

 

31 july 2016

two stones with lines through them placed on a large stone outcropping

 

11 august 2016

three stones with lines through them placed on a large stone outcropping

this is a tucked away spot on the beach where i’ve collected a ton of limpet shells and found other interesting flotsam. beyond the end of the main beach at batten bay, there’s a long flat outcropping of rock that juts out into the surf, but is easily clambered over to reveal a series of pirate coves and eventually another wide stretch of beach. in the first of these coves is the sheltered ridge upon which i started this piece. i didn’t know i was starting it on the 8th of july, i just put the red stone there as i was leaving with a sack of limpet shells. but it was still there when i went back, so i added another stone. the third one went in a couple of weeks ago, and this week i’m planning on getting back to check on them, and if they’re still in place, add a fourth segment. there’s been a fair bit of weather recently, so i’m not holding my breath, but…stay tuned for an update.

how life is strange

collage with the reagans and cabbage patch kids

a long time ago, in the 80s, i made zines and xerox comics with a rotating band of co-conspirators. it started in high school with pamphlets of bad poetry about ronald reagan and nuclear destruction, as anything good from that time period did, of course.

while living with my three best friends in a chaotic environment known colloquially as the ‘pig vomit deth haus’, we took to cutting up coupon inserts from the newspapers and rearranging the pieces into collages of absurdist/dada consumer goods, when we weren’t drinking, smoking, playing very unstructured noise rock or pretending to study. thus, the Coupon Book, perhaps my finest zine moment, was born. There were three issues, and we handed them out to friends, sold them in record shops, and sent them to people in the post who sent us money or their own zines in trade. But above all else, our handiwork made us laugh hysterically.

another friend, a gifted cartoonist (he was once mugged for a case of beer as he was on his way to a party at our house), who turned into an ambient electronic composer (and still draws beautifully), introduced me to a publication called factsheet five, which was a sort of massive review of independent press magazines and zines and other self-published ephemera. i sent issues 1 and 2 of the Coupon Book to factsheet five, wherein they were favourably reviewed, which was exciting, and as a result, many people sent me requests for the Coupon Books accompanied often by quarters stuck with tape to pieces of card.

i made other zines, and made drawings and paintings and wrote slightly less bad poetry about subjects that weren’t ronald reagan. my co-conspirators formed bands and built glass-blowing studios and moved to georgia and did other stuff.

now, after all that, here’s how life is strange. i recently found out that mike gunderloy, the publisher of factsheet five, donated a portion of the huge archive of zines he accumulated while publishing the magazine, to the new york state library, where it is now housed in manuscripts and special collections. it’s apparently one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. imagine my surprise when i went to the new york state library webpage and did a database search and found an entry for issues 1 and 2 of the Coupon Book (click the link, then type in ‘the coupon book’ and you should get to the entry). on the catalog record, it’s listed as ‘a humorous collection of mock coupons’, and the topical subject is listed as ‘wit and humour’, all of which entertains me greatly.

i love that my goofy zines are part of that collection, that i can look myself up on the new york state library website. it’s a quiet, almost anonymous thing, but a thing nonetheless, the sort of thing that makes me think, ‘how did that happen? we were just cutting up newspapers to have a laugh.’ it also means that at least one artistic activity i engaged in has become part, even if only a tiny part, of a history that’s bigger than me, which is rewarding and humbling. and strange.

I’ll finish up with another page, and when i can find the masters (probably in a box in the roof), i’ll scan a few more pages in and make another post.)

collage with big lips

 

 

one thing leads to another

i often describe my work as abstract, but bearing the influence of the landscape, or my experience in the landscape. it’s an influence that’s perhaps more evident in some cases than others, but one that’s always present, always doing its part to inform whe way i make pictures.

here’s a specific example of how one thing leads to another. when i go to a particular beach, i always lock my bicycle to a post at the edge of the carpark. this is what is see when i stand at that post:

photograph of seascape with signpost

and here’s a painting, ‘interrupted view’ that came about as a result:

seascape painting with big black and white obstruction

now, here’s what’s going on…after looking at that arrow decal on that post several times a week for a couple of years, i started to get intrigued by its qualities as a pretty rigid, graphic, abstract element in an otherwise ‘natural’ setting. i made the photo in order to capture that juxtapostion. the photo is a key element in the whole process.

it’s clear, in the photo, that what’s visible is a signpost (presumably on a path of some sort), with a directional aid on it, in a landscape – in this case the beach. but by framing it in the way that i did, and choosing to focus on the arrow rather than the scene behind it, i flattened the space, which allows me to treat it much more formally in terms of composition, the play between positive and negative space, the similarity in tonal values of the greys in the background and the reflected light on the arrow, the way the shapes are arranged (as a side benefit, the way the arrow is curved at its tip suggests it’s pointing at the horizon, which brings in a whole metaphorical element – travel, adventure, risk, a ‘spiritual’ journey of some description). i made the photo because the scene intrigues me, but i had only the vaguest notion that i might use any part of it in a painting.

in the case of the painting, it was a piece whose progress was not going well, and it was becoming more a source of frustration than anyhting else. dropping a big black and white vertical stripe on top of the piece was a way to disrupt the visual space of the painting, but to also disrupt my intentions regarding what i wanted the piece to be or ‘look’ like. by reframing the composition in terms of how the disruption, the ‘post/arrow’ relates to the rest of the picture, i was able to relax about what i thought the viewer should be ‘seeing’. the formal qualities i described about the photo are still present to a degree, but oddly, in the painting, the presence of the ‘post/arrow’, and the thin vertical line to its right serve to create a sense of space and depth in what otherwise would be a pretty flat composition (as opposed to flattening the space in the photo). titling the piece ‘interrupted view’ plays to that, and suggets that though the composition appears abstract, there’s something else going on. the one element that’s sorta lost is the metaphorical one suggested by the arrow pointing at the horizon, but maybe that’s something to be addressed in another piece at another time.

10,000 umbrellas

last september, i started rearranging things on the beaches around plymouth. since early in the new year, in addition to the rearrangements i’ve been doing on site (sites, really), i’ve been collecting limpets for a larger project. at the beginning of may i had 2,600  shells in a box in my studio. at that point, i started documenting the collection process. on the 11th of august, i reached the quota for the project. here’s what 10,000 limpets in boxes in my studio looks like:

10000 limpet shells in boxes in my studio.

add to those all the other limpet shells currently in the studio waiting to be taken back to the beach to be arranged into art, and the total is almost 14,000. i don’t know what it means that there’re so many shells in my studio, but it does seem significant. if nothing else, they represent time, they’re evidence of the durational part of the project, that is, all the hours spent on the beach pickin’ ’em up. so…soon those 10,000 will go back to the beach and be arranged. i might need help. if you’re not busy.

 

interactive art – tidelines 37 and 25

some of the sites at which i make rearrangements for the tidelines series are relatively secluded, and as such, the pieces that go into those sites may not ever get seen other than through the documentation. other sites are much more accesible, so hopefully, the pieces that go into these sites will be seen. one of the points of the tidelines project is to make the work and then leave it to its fate, whether that’s to be destroyed by tidal activity or weather or dogs or kids, or to stay in place for some undetermined period of time. where the pieces are more easily seen, i’d be thrilled for people to interact with them, add their own twist, and then leave them for someone else to encounter and rearrange. ideally the works would become perpetual, and always changing. it doesn’t always work like that. seawall, the first tidelines piece, was kicked apart about 24 hours after i finished it. i was at the beach where it was sited and i watched as someone went along the wall methodically removing every stone one sweep of his boot at a  time. by contrast, though the weather has taken its toll, remnants of 1000 umbrellas were still clinging to the top of the wall at devil’s point in june, about seven months after i put the piece in place. recently, two pieces were interacted with in ways that made me really happy. here’s the evidence, and thanks to my anonymous collaborators.

tidelines 37 - bench piece V

above is tidelines 37 – bench piece V. this bench is one of my regular sites and there have now been six pieces here, many of them started with remains of the previous piece. this was how i left it on the 21st of july. and here’s what it looked like when i went back on the 29th:

bench piece V - towers bench piece V - face

there were a couple of other alterations, but the towers and the face are the most prominent. I left the piece in this state, and when I returned again on the 4th of august, the high tides had done their thing, left a mess and facilitated the next project, bench piece VI (photos in an upcoming post).

tidelines 25 – lightcatcher, is, or was, located in a spot that, whilst not exactly hidden, is not all that accesible either. there’s a little stretch of rocky beach just below two concrete bunkers on devil’s point. it can be got to from the main beach, but it involves a bit of clambering. i first put lightcatcher in on the 13th of may, and other than getting knocked about by rain, it remained more or less untouched ( i think, don’t know for sure), until the 29th of july. here’s what it looked like in june:

lightcatcher 25, rusty iron and seaglass

on the 7th of july, i found another great piece of iron, so i added it to the piece:

more iron and seaglass and a shell

then on the 29th, i found it like this:

altered lightcatcher

the original piece of iron was gone and the newer one had been moved several feet onto another rock and had some glass added to it. i found the rusted tin can and left it roughly where the piece had been previously.

that was two weeks ago. i haven’t been back to check on lightcatcher since then, but i hope there’s something of it left so that i can carry on with a new incarnation of the piece.

albums for the bench pieces and lightcatcher will be coming soon, on the tidelines page. check frequently.