Monday, 16 January 2012

Matthew Harris and 'end gaming'.

At the Beetroot Tree we have been hosting an exhibition of the paper and textile works of Matthew Harris.

Though the exhibition has finished now, I wanted to share with you the talk about his work which he gave to a packed audience on the final day of his exhibition.
We couldn't video the whole event (and I am quite sure that you wouldn't want to watch it in full), but here is a taster, with many thanks to David and Nell for creating it:

I know from the comments in the visitor book, from the distances travelled to see the exhibition, conversations with some of you, views on You Tube and, very importantly, the vote of confidence and support your wallets gave to Matthew through your purchases how popular he prooved to be .
I found his talk interesting particularly as it correlated very well with a favorite hobbyhorse of mine in relation to avoid what I call 'end gaming'. Matthew obviously goes to great lengths to prevent himself from making all of the decisions about a piece before it is made, including working on the reverse side of his papers and fabrics to a large extent. We can all find our own methods to prevent ourselves from 'end gaming' and to allow us to 'go with the flow'. Perhaps it is also something to do with basic aspects of our personality, some find it easier to be improvisational and others find it harder, but whichever you are, it is absolutely key to being creative.
I think that it was interesting that Matthew's processes were very controlled and deliberate in order to push him away from a known outcome. Even so, as one attendee commented, the disonance and interuptions that Matthew is aiming for still in his case result in beautifully aesthetic, calm works. I could imagine that another maker using similar techniques might create wild, strident and discordant results. That would be an interesting idea to pursue - take a group of makers and the working process of one artist, the same starting point, and watch the development of the pieces ... probably not an original idea, but it would still be worth doing at some point.
Finding ways of keeping in touch with a piece as it develops is critically important to the success or otherwise of the outcome. Practice and find your own strategies, then share them with us here. I look forward to hearing your ideas.


David said...

Alysn wrote, "the disonance and interuptions that Matthew is aiming for still in his case result in beautifully aesthetic, calm works"

Yes they do, and I found a deep sense of Order at the Magnifying Glass level in the meticulous stitching.

At the same time, when standing back, those pieces inspired by Japanese lantern cloth were desperately disturbing in a way that Matthew may never have envisaged.
I've never visited Japan, and to me the textured unbleached cloth and patches of faded red pigment screamed "train wreck" - bandage after gory bandage.

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden said...

That is really interesting. Perhaps then Matthew has achieved something of the Japanese culture which has been known for a mixture of control, calm and violence. Another visitor commented that she saw aspects of the Hiroshima bomb images in one piece.
Do these reactions and thoughts not say something about the viewers expectations and preconceptions as soon as an artists statement is provided? What would we have thought of the pieces without references to Japan?