Matthew Smith: Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow

by Vane | Gateshead
Date of event: 03/10/19 - 02/11/19
Artist: Matthew Smith (London)

For his third solo exhibition at Vane Matthew Smith has made a series of rock-like fibreglass sculptures in varying monochrome shades. The sculptures are made from non-recyclable plastic taken from the artist’s household waste. This was collected over one calendar year and divided up to make ten sculptures each titled with the dates between which the entombed material was amassed. The plastic detritus was arranged and formed, then coated in resin and glass fibre. They have a smooth semi-reflective surface through which recognisable everyday forms of plastic packaging appear to protrude. Usually destined for landfill, Smith transforms this discarded material into a series of sculptures, presenting us with a landscape of rogue geological objects from the Anthropocene epoch.

On the walls around these sculptures are presented a series of twelve collage works. Each takes all the images of rocks from a single copy of National Geographic magazine, arranging them into a simple pile as if they were awaiting another use. The rocks are cut out from the foreground of seductive visual images of the natural world and treated as physical material. Through the extemporaneous activity of adding them to the stack, a sculptural structure is created, producing an odd heap of mismatched geology, an improbable mound of visual material. The resulting images are reminiscent of cairns: piles of stones which are used to mark a route through a landscape. They appear to help the viewer to navigate a way through the other artworks.