Top image: Rock Displacement, by Matthew Smith, cast concrete rock replacing the original

Matthew Smith

Matthew came to Art Gene at a time when our own interest in the natural environment around Barrow was slowly growing. The initial work of Art Gene had been more concerned with the social and built environment and our works had largely been concerned with Urban environments, a journey which had begun with the refurbishment of our premises from a derelict state.

The selection panel were interested in how Matthew’s practice might inform and extend our research base into a further consideration of the importance of the natural environment which in terms of orthodox regeneration was at that time largely ignored.

Matthew’s works seek to question how we think about nature, exploring how our ideas of landscape and the rural are mediated through the lens of mass culture.

Matthew’s work has appropriated images from advertising, maps, postcards, tourist brochures and food packaging. These images however cartoon like or unreal they may appear inform how we experience the world; the representations become a part of how we experience the reality.


Rock Displacement – DVD, cast concrete, 2010

In this project a rock was removed from the foreground of a picturesque view in the Lake District National Park. A mould was made from it, which was used to create concrete copies of the rock. One of these concrete copies was taken back to the location and placed within the scene in exactly the same spot from which the original was removed. Video documentation of the removal and replacement of the rock are exhibited alongside multiple copies of the rock, which are randomly distributed around the gallery creating a cloned artificial /natural environment which the viewer can wander through.

This project was developed while in residence at Art Gene and has been exhibited at Camberwell Space, London



Image above: Rock Displacement, by Matthew Smith, cast concrete rock replacing the original


Picturesque Device – Plywood, timber, wood stain, 2006

This project involved the creation of a small grouping of cattle, which were made as life size silhouettes cut out of rough plywood and attached to wooden frames to enable them to stand upright. This grouping of cows was then taken and placed on top of a slagheap alongside the main road into and out of Barrow. They were a grouping of cattle such as you might see in an eighteenth century landscape painting or more recently on the side of a milk carton, a picturesque device placed on top of this man made mountain with the sun setting behind it for the benefit of the passing motorists on there way home from work.

This project was made whilst in residence at Art Gene.



Matthew Smith was born 1976 in Wakefield, U.K. He studied at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle between 1994 and 1997, then at the Slade School of Art, London 1997-1999.

In 2000-01 Matthew received an ACAVA First Base Studio Award and in 2002 he completed a residency at the Goethe Institute in Berlin.

Matthew’s solo exhibitions include, an installation at Catalyst Arts, Belfast, 1996, Ectopiafa 1 Contemporary Art, London, 2000, fa Projects, London, 2002 and Wohnmaschine, Berlin 2002.

Matthew has shown extensively nationally and internationally in selected group exhibitions including most recently Open Show, 2006, Surface Gallery, Nottingham, 2006. OffEastern Electricity Building, Norwich, 2006, Jerwood Drawing PrizeJerwood Space, London and touring (2005/06), Surface Gallery, Nottingham, 2005, CommongroundArtSway, Hampshire, 2004 and Very British? Die Drostei, Pinneberg, Germany, 2003.


Drawing Workshops

During his Residency Matthew conducted a series of a series of landscape drawing workshops with students from Barrow Sixth Form College Arts Foundation Course. These took place in their classroom, on site at Roan Head Beach and at Art Gene in Matthew’s Studio. In the classroom they drew from imagination, at Roan Head from real life, and at Art Gene from memory. The results were discussed with reference to Matthew’s practice and laid out to see how they compared.


External Links

Image below: Matthew Smith siting Picturesque Device and following installation

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