Medium Cotton, Bioresin.
Dimensions (approx.) 180cm x 60cm x 65cm
Weight (approx.) 1.5kg
Robust, waterproof, lightweight construction for versatile installation.
Strong and lifesize, she weighs just 1½ kilograms (about 3lbs). ‘Ghost’ began as an experiment in materials. I felt that cloth could replace glass fibres as a reinforcement for resins, and that such material could stand unaided. I wanted a sculptural challenge, and realised what could be done with gravity, drape and movement. The fabrication is considerably more complicated than it may appear. While materially simple, ‘Ghost’ is one of the most involved in its construction, and its underlying concepts.
The sculpture is about whatever you want it to be. To me it has several notions. It is a literal reflection of the impressions people leave, particularly in our memories. It is about how “ghosts” can be what persists in our hearts, whether or not the people who haunt us are still living on earth. It also alludes to the impressions that we leave in our surroundings – the ideas we spread, footprints, our use of materials (with the wordplay on the sculpture being made of material).
The impressions we make on the world through our drives and efforts can feel insubstantial, as echoed by ‘Ghost’’s near weightlessness. Beauty of action, like sculpture, does not have to depend upon solidity or gravitas.
Around these concepts, ‘Ghost’ shows a shrouded woman. Women are underrepresented in history. This issue is well represented by a project called “Women and the Canon”. Think of the names of the greatest composers, painters, scientists… they are nearly all men. Women are hidden from the canon of what is considered exemplary. For instance, the most influential art work of the 20th Century, ‘Fountain’ credited to Marcel Duchamp, was created by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (“Who is she?”, you ask. “Exactly”.) So many women’s endeavours are hidden, while the existing canon of Picasso, Mozart…etc. is still taught in documentaries and in schools. The female figure is portrayed in art - as it is in this sculpture, in veiled form - while women’s creative and intellectual contributions are shrouded. ‘Ghost’ is the contributions women have made, that are unseen, passed away, and silenced. They live on for those who believe, remember, and see them.
Medium Cessna 150 tailplane, sacred ground, ropes
Dimensions (approx.) 480cm x 300cm x 160cm
These images show 'Arise' installed as The Fifth Plinth in Ludlow Shropshire, in the churchyard of St Laurence's Parish Church. Part of the church and town's annual artist residency. June-July 2017.
Photo courtesy of The Ludlow Advertiser
"A nine bladed sword. Not two or five or seven."
...The newspaper's coverage puzzled me at first - why do they want to know how long it took, and how many pieces of plane go together?
"..six hours to put the plane in place.."
Part of the point of sculpture, and sound and brushstrokes, is to explore meanings and emotions for which words are blunt tools, let alone trying to convey them with Numbers - to move away from what can be put into a Venn diagram's circle labelled "the set of things that can be expressed through literalism and quantifiers".
...One of my manymanymany learnings from the artist residency ("...one week") is good journalism: how to make comfortable contact with readers.
"...assembled the plane from THREE main sections"
... . . as if the whole endeavour would have had different meaning and validity if it had been two, or five or seven.
The journalist is - quite realistically - saying "Nobody will understand this stuff. They'll feel confused, or like they're being made to look silly. Start the article with some solid numbers, that everyone understands, so they feel grounded. Ground your plane. Normalise it."
Thanks, wise journalists.
Media arty-cle: http://www.ludlowadvertiser.co.uk/…/15409110.Sculpture_tak…/
Ludlow Arts Trail brochure. Arise was the principle art piece of the Fringe Festival and Arts Trail:
L O V E Medium Polyester resin, cotton.
Dimensions (approx.) 130cm x 180cm x 20cm
"Eskimos have 50 words for snow." We should have more words for "love".
' L O V E ' is a tough wall hanging that can be projected on, e.g. with video vfx.
Above: 'Bring Your Own Beamer' video jockeys & DJs showcase, Foodies, Northampton, Feb17
How is strongly passionate Love created? The Love of desire and ecstatic closeness - "Love" with a big 'L' ? ' L O V E ' includes a fold in the ' O ' that poses one answer.
We Met One Day
Courage, surfaces, evolving an ideal, growing and changing, and getting to know someone…
Talk to them.
Talk to that person who impresses you as you look at them from afar, and wonder about them. Seize the courage to introduce yourself. How many times have you seen someone amazing and been afraid to talk to them?
How many times have you found that they felt the same way?
Our Achievements and appearances make us noticeable. But it is our flaws and frailty that make us loveable. Impressive people are intimidating. We put them on tall pedestals, incomplete. The person inside the shell is obscured. We miss their inner beauty, just as we hide our own. We make Gods and Goddesses, raised high with proud posture… The figure seems pitched as if ready to dive, or to help pull us up. Just as we can wonder whether a person we admire - of whom we have made a mental statue - will dive in and talk to us, and help us reach the level we see them on, and desire. Is that a vision of the courage we seek in ourselves? The question is really… will you?
The figure alludes to Eris, Goddess of Chaos and Discordia: doing things without knowing the outcome. Indeed much of the concepts were different when ‘We Met One Day’ began. The initial intention was to create an evolutionary series of the ascent of woman, for equality emphasis, because all drawings of the evolution that we see, from hominid to homo sapiens, show images of males. There should be evolutionary diagrams that portray women, and the concept of this figure was as a slightly futuristic woman, but in which the humanity is obscured to reflect how humans are moving into synthetics and automation. But, as with Discordia, (and as with getting to know real people) other meanings emerged and evolved. Many relationships start like that, be they great friendships or love.
We all change. I love people and sculpture for their life: how they change and grow, and have new meanings to cherish. We can love sculpture in a fixed way, and want to keep it like that forever. The unchanging immoveable solidity of bronze and stone, which can look realistic, but never looks real.
I do not love people or sculpture in that way. I sculpt in light materials, and display them temporarily, to give them freedom. Hence the option to hire sculptures, and get to know them, rather than buy them ostensibly forever without change.
We do not know whether a relationship will blossom. We may end up saying or singing “We met one day, when ….” about a close friend or loved one. The point is that you met at all. We will only ever say that if we take courage to talk to that mysterious, amazing wonderful god or goddess we put on a pedestal. Then get to know them.
Love sculpture for its versatility, changing meanings …its life. Be with it, and keep it with you, if there is connection. Be with a sculpture for as long as it talks to you. That may be forever.
Many Happy Returns
Medium Wood, clothes, polymer, steel, paper, PVA, bioresin, fibreglass, heather, picea conifer, polyurethane, earth
Whatever you do, love it. Throw yourself into your passions.
Many Happy Returns reflects the circularity of the earth and our place in it. We are of the earth, and we return to it. Embrace your leap and dive. Make the most of everything.
The figures look as if they have fallen from a great height, and plummeted into the soil comically, by surprise. The clothes and boots are worn, reflecting a life lived. Many Happy Returns celebrates how the earth is to be respected. It is you and me.
Prize Winner (2nd Place), ‘Change The World’ competition, Oxford Town Hall, Poseytude Gallery, May 2016
The legs are positionable: can be angled to suit the installation site, e.g. slopes. Alternative explosion media, such as paving or erupted wooden flooring, are available by commission.
Dimensions (approx.) 130cm x 170cm x 160cm. Smaller, easy transport and installation scale edition, will follow by Oct15.
See @mattsmartart for more images, with narratives around new pieces, events, and works in progress.
Tribal Tree. Weathered oak, iron, wood, eyes, and birds nest. Exhibited 2014, among yew trees. It was located beside the dwelling of the resident hermit. Captions on hands mounted in the yew trees read "You're wasted", "We told yew not to take too much", and "Are yew alright?". It references overindulgence at festivals as parallels with overconsumption of planetary resources. The installed tree is out of its natural place, and is dead wood. The others are concerned but slightly judgemental of the party-tree's excessssive consumption. It reflects the human tendency to overindulge, treating the planet as a party, and resources to be consumed - including those which can be harmful in excess - wastefully (hence the tree being "wasted") as if there is no tomorrow.
Medium Molehills on polyester resin over galvanised wire. Bamboo armature and resin-sealed wooden base frame. Stainless steel anchor points. May contain traces of nuts.
Dimensions (approx.) 180cm x 60cm x 50cm
Grand Prize Winner, ‘Change The World’ competition. Oxford Town Hall, Poseytude Gallery, May 2016
Dimensions (approx., as a pair) 120cm x 130cm x 70cm
Cherokee Chairs are public or private seating that looks like people. The seats are fully useable, robust and waterproof. The design is inspired by American settlers and homesteaders colonising the land, and using resources such as trees for dwellings, and crops and cows for wellbeing.
The work references the American Dawes Act of the assimilation of native North Americans. Senator Dawes’ main reason to instigate his Indian Allotment Act was Chief Standing Bear, a Ponca Indian of the Lakotas, who walked 600 miles though winter to bury his son after being forcibly removed from his tribe’s native territory and burial site. Tribal land was removed from tribal governance and allocated into immediate family ownerships, and to single males – small allotments, effectively removing collectivised responsibility and management of the land and nature.
“Assimilation” through the Dawes Act was the condition for any native inhabitants to have any rights to any land and resources at all. This required western schooling and church attendance, and replaced tribes’ animal and earth spirits with the imperative to go forth and multiply, with divine dominion over bird and beast. The Indians had to accept these conditions in order to be accepted people. Without it, they were beasts, not people, with no rights to land use. Chief Standing Bear’s contention to rights to bury his son in the tribe’s sacred ground was “I am a man”, a view which was eventually accepted because he wore western clothes and went to church, and asked to be taught how to farm land the western way. After the Act was effected Standing Bear could have been renamed ‘Sitting Clothed’: a westernised sitting tenant in the required Euro-American attire. The chairs are dressed in keeping with the spirit of those traditional clothing customs at the time.
We can sit on these chairs in recognition of this heritage’s fundamental support for our current condition, just as we may “stand on the shoulders of giants”. The frozen nature of the hermetic sealing of the chair people reflects the sealing of free people into a restrictive and immobilising law and way of life.
The Cherokee are a native North American tribe.
“Cherokee” means “the real people”.
Medium Molehills, fibreglass, steel, copper, oak, soil, flowering plants
I wanted to lighten my works, in the sense of making them more light-hearted. As light as air. As breath.
Drawing from breathing and physical exercises, and the gift of clean air from plants, ‘Breathe’ depicts a figure being lifted by the parts through which we breathe: our face, lungs and diaphragm. Plants lift our spirit, and our body.
‘Breathe’’s structure hints at new architecture techniques which include planting spaces as part of multi-level buildings, in ways that actually increase the amount of green space per square metre of land. In this case she adds about 35% of earth and planting space in the space she occupies, which is about the same proportion as the best modern architecture achieves.
You can grow flowers in ‘Breathe’, and get extra planting space.
‘Breathe’ shows us as being part of the garden, between earth and air. Lifted, and in balance.
Medium Molehills, clay, calcium carbonate rich soil, sandstone, charcoal, fibreglass, keys, memory stick, bones
Dimensions (approx.) 180cm x 45cm x 45cm
A spire of archaeology.
This sculpture contemplates the meanings and perceptions of “fact” and “truth”. It poses the earth as a document of what happened, relative to what we say and document has happened. Layers of the earth are often pages in a different book.
Matt Smart was in the team of 4 that found the site of the missing heirs to the Russian throne, Anastasia Romanov and the haemophiliac Prince Alexei. There have been many myths that these royal children survived the 1918 execution of their family.
We found them. We worked out why everyone else was digging in the wrong place. We solved the riddle, determined the facts, and found the prince and princess (who are also canonised saints). The more beautiful truth is that they survived and enjoyed longer lives.
We think we seek truth, and that there are keys to finding it. This sculpture is a synthetic depiction of layers of durable artefacts, just as history is often synthetic. ‘Truths’ includes real keys shown embedded in a spike of layered history. With the keys is a current equivalent (a USB memory stick). Below the keys is embedded the origin of curiosity - a bone – and a bone also lies above the keys, as the conclusion. The bones signify what drives our desire for truth, and what our conclusion will be no matter what we find.
There are, of course, allusions to “the pinnacle of human knowledge”, and the monolithic impression of memorials erected to immortalise the tales we tell.
There are many truths. Tell beautiful tales.
Medium Polyester resin and glass matting. Variegated maple and laurel leaves. Bioresin. Polyurethane paints. Galvanised and stainless steel wire. Molehills and calcium-carbonate-rich soil from decommissioned quarry.
Dimensions (approx.) 160cm x 130cm x 70cm
Pompeiian times are still considered to be among humanity’s heights (or depths) of indulgent behaviour, and even then Pompeii was considered to be exceptionally indulgent. When Vesuvius covered Pompeii in ash it was quite widely thought of as an act of gods’ judgement for excessive vanity. ‘Seizar’ is taking a selfie.
The overall sculpture plays with treasure's actual and mythical relationships with natural bounty and phenomena, and the notion of “seizing”. The gold leaves are real leaves, whereas ‘real gold leaf’ is made of gold but not of leaves, separating wealth from environmental processes which provide resources and make their appreciation possible. The coating on the rose is more organic than the model “rose” itself. The sealing layer of bioresin has been applied to generate subtle white surface hazing, and the figure has a light dusting of ash-like soil, sourced from an abandoned stone quarry which has now reverted almost entirely to vegetation.
Medium Cassini plaster. Wool and cotton. Bioresin. Wooden armature with galvanised wire. Paper. Stainless steel fixings, brackets and anchor points.
The arms of the sculpture are repositionable. The arm angles and posture can be adjusted to make the sculpture appear more imposing or contemplative, to suit the character and terrain of the installation site.
Dimensions (approx.) 110cm x 120cm x 90cm
Babies, hatchlings in the nest, and piglets in their first stumbles, are all full of fight, born of tough Earth. As they grow in body they become gentler, and more ready to care and share. Evermore is born of the land’s strong skeleton of pale stone. Ready to learn the softness of soil. Love is not innate. Love is a complement to strength, and we can choose it.
The 'Angels' are various sculptures which shift the concept of 'Ghosts' described above, into the realm of being influencers, protectors and guardian angels. Angels can also be assessors, in the religious sense of angels as guardians of the afterlife: judges as well as agents. In all these senses, our heritage, and ancestors and icons can influence how we assess our own actions on a daily basis. They can encourage us to do acts that we, and others, can be proud of, now and in the future.
'Angels' use the resin and cloth techniques, combined with earth matter or pigments, or cast objects.
The 'Angels' series continues the 'Ghosts' literal application of the notion of sculptural "impression" as a manifestation of the impressions that others have on us, and the impressions we make.