Matt Smart is a sculptor and installation artist. He works in reinforced resins, textiles, earth and bio-matter, constructed materials and appropriated objects, metal, plaster and wood, but mainly in bioresins, molehills and clothes.
Matt exhibits in public spaces, sculpture parks, streets and music festivals. He makes works to delight and fascinate, to be solid in concept and physically robust to resist viewers' high spirited interactions, and to capture attention.
Sculpture's 3D occupation of space feels natural for exploring and describing interactions with our environment and landscape. I sculpt to raise emotion. Language and words are effective for logic and rationalised definitions, but they struggle to enable deeper, emotional social connection. Art engages our passions and beliefs.
Continuity and sustainability are principal themes. Matt Smart endeavours to share land art sensations in urban settings to make them accessible, and to sculpt earth art sensibilities with humour - all sprinkled with desire, so that people feel a will to connect.
He explores social treatment of tribes, diasporas and gender, particularly the unsung role of pioneering women. Women’s influence has been downplayed in the canon of the greatest composers, painters, scientists, and inventors. Crucially, this continues to be taught in schools. Some works are about recognising the impression made by women, and how their contributions are shrouded. The principle of the impression made by those who have been silenced is also applied to the potential for cross-cultural influences to contribute to land care and how to manage resources within globalisation. For example, acknowledging the tribal, historic and pre-historic collectivised approaches to environment and land respect through mutually shared, un-segregated "ownership" and responsibility.
The works illustrate relationships between social and personal development, growth, and resourcefulness. The sculptures reflect the role of the earth as a record and document across belief systems, and the continuum between facts and history, and truth and beauty. They show how the earth gives us physical being, comfort and emotional strength.
They celebrate the earth and us.
Technically, Matt works to develop new construction techniques and ways to use materials to achieve robust, lightweight sculpture. The purpose here is to expand the possibilities of how and where public sculptures can be installed, e.g. on walls and roofs, and to reduce the material input and carbon footprint of public sculpture.
People get used to static art. Matt Smart explores build techniques to make public sculpture more realistic and alive, and better suited to temporary installations (as is achieved in street art and festivals). If sculpture installations change often, more people find them interesting, and see art as a pleasure, for their benefit, rather than heavy blocks in their physical and emotional space. When public sculpture loses impact and beauty, it’s time to change it.
Matt Smart's practice is informed through natural resources research, environmental economics, street art projects, music, prehistoric cave art and the origins of transmitted communications and leisure, native north American tribes, collectives and commons, land rights, ornamental hermits, and archaeological excavations through which his team located the remains of two Saints and imperial heirs in a Russian forest.
Matt has been sculpting since summer 2014. His first solo exhibition was is in June 2016. He is on various Festival organising committees and groups.
He established and ran a South London gallery, exhibiting group and solo shows of artists with clinically diagnosed psychiatric conditions. He holds a BA in Art, Theatre, and Psychology. Matt is published academically in psychology and psychiatry. He manages, and has managed, academic research portfolios in national low-carbon economic planning with government, and climate change and adaptation in low-lying island states. Also, more broadly, in knowledge exchange between academic research, business and policy, academically informed theatre and arts practices, and public engagement.
Matt ran a gallery in South London for 2 years in
his spare time. He wanted to exhibit and deal in art that people would appreciate, not just works that he liked.
So he made a strong effort from the outset to like the art he didn’t instinctively appreciate, and the artists who made it. And understand why various audiences like works that he would usually dismiss. On the way to meeting an artist, and just before the first smile, he would tell himself “I like this person. Their work has value and qualities. It is great. Listen, and see its worth.” This approach shifted his view, and informed his commercial sense: the gallery was not expected to sell much, but he did anyway.
Cool art, happy viewers, plentiful sweet sales, and amazing people.
When Matt was 9 he worked on a market stall , selling gold and silver. Bought stock at the Petticoat Lane gold market, east London, and sold it Saturdays in Essex.
Was the first pupil in his school to take the 11+. He was 10. He did the test unsupervised in the Headmaster’s office, until the Head popped back in and took off his false leg. Matt went to Colchester Grammar school.
Did two years in banking in London. Nice money, and fun people, but not a life he wanted to pursue indefinitely. He left to study art.
Lived with friends on Sark to write a book. To test if it was any good he handed out pages to tourists. It was nice being asked in the street if they could have a copy of whatever he'd written last night. He did not get published at that point, but got a fan club in France. Back in London he tried to hand the book out to folk he'd meet by chance, to test enthusiasm. First person was Katie Jane.
Did amdram for a couple of teen years. In the lead up to A levels, three girls at the girls’ Grammar invited him to help them run a lunchtime drama club they were starting. Later Matt's dad wrote pantomimes. Lots. All published.
He worked in a charity for performing arts medicine, and in psychiatric research. Co-authored two research papers on child and adolescent psychology and psychiatry and the propensity for antisocial behaviour. The papers have been cited over 200 times by academics, consultants and policymakers.
One of his paintings has sold. Three times. It is the night sky seen from the perspective of the earth, through grass. (His work was never sold, shown, or even mentioned at the gallery he ran. He totally avoided conflicts of interest and never told artists or gallery visitors that he produced works.)
Invited by a friend on a research programme, he did a couple of days’ badger tracking. Found the UK's largest recorded site of communal badger interactions.
Did module one of a Masters in Environmental Policy. Then fees increased by 250%, thanks to ELQ, ironically while he was seconded to the government body that instigated ELQ. He could not afford the other 5 modules, which had each increased by about £1,400. So he administered a research and policy centre for environmental economics, policy and behaviour, under the direction of the previous Chief Scientific Advisor to Government. Supported and managed projects on energy mixes at national levels, climate change risks, national low carbon economic development programmes, and adaptation and mitigation in low-lying island states.
He holds a BA in Art, Drama & Theatre Studies, and Psychology.