In association with the Royal Academy of Arts

Converse Submisson of the Week: Matthew Welch

We speak to one of the entries from this year's collaborative Converse Emerging Artists Award about his piece constructed from IKEA shelf brackets and plants

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Having graduated from a BA in Painting at Wimbledon College of Art in 2010, Matthew Welch has gone on to be shortlisted for the Saatchi/Channel 4 New Sensations project, as well as currently working towards an exhibition in 2012 with The Dharma Collective.  For the Dazed/Converse Prize the artist has submitted his beguilingly titled work, 'In The Glass Coffin Of The Virgin Forest', as installed in The Woodmill Project Space in 2010. 

Comprised of materials including IKEA shelf brackets and houseplants, the work considers 'an analysis of the cultural site through the interstice between archive, monumental edifice and utopia'; Welch is interested in sets of objects that perform a history.  Influenced by Foucault's Heterotopias and Bauhaus utilitarian living, he tries to 'understand how forces in the past become mythologised and reified in the present'. In the last of out installments before the announcement of the judge's shortlist, our final selected artist chats to us about his practice and thoughts for the future...

Dazed Digital: What made you choose to become an artist?
Matthew Welch:
I don't know whether it's about such a precise question as choice, only that I was and am still engaging with artistic practices at this current time. People are presented with situations, and then they respond to those situations.  Being able to do that in an art school allows you to have the space and time to really interrogate the notion of creative work. So the reasons why I am doing what I am doing are constantly changing.

DD: What's the relationship of the work to painting (with paint)?
Matthew Welch: Painting, and its historical debate definitely inform my work. The felt banner in In The Glass Coffin Of The Virgin Forest perhaps functions as a continuation of my interest in painting; in surface and structural devices. The paintings i have made and used in my work are perhaps less like paintings but more simple signifiers; referring to a certain moment in painting that i am interested in using as a historical device. As far as a relationship with paint, paint is alchemical, primordial matter, very dangerous stuff!

DD: What's your process and how do you select your materials and objects?
Matthew Welch: There are certain materials that i use over and over again; materials that are associated with cheap, affordable furniture design, office interiors and commercial display systems, but also more industrial materials used in constructing buildings and interiors. I use these materials as ways of referencing certain formal, structural properties and then opening them up to be read as aesthetic surfaces. I use melamine faced chipboard for its familiarity as a ubiquitous material within contemporary spaces. I want to try to respond to objects like when you read an essay, or a book and it engages you in such a way that you feel the need to respond to it.

DD: What direction is your work going in?
Matthew Welch: I work with a friend who is a video artist on a research project which is very much in an early stage of development. We want to create events and platforms for performative dialogues and information exchange. I am quite interested in externalizing a lot of the communication that happens across the internet and seeing what happens to those forms of communication when they are affected by a physical space.

DD: How do you support your artistic practice?
Matthew Welch: I work for a gallery as a technician and also as an artist assistant. Since finishing my BA though, I find you start to really consider your work economically, what you can afford to make, what you need to make to develop an idea. I think it can alter your practice in a really interesting way.

DD: What artists in history have inspired you?
Matthew Welch: There is a sandstone sculpture by Georges Vantongerloo that the Tate Modern own called Interrelation Of Volumes, That is perhaps my favorite sculpture.

DD: Which of your contemporaries at the moment do you admire?
Matthew Welch:
Ben rivers film a while back at Matt's Gallery was good I thought. The online journal Through Europe, and the writers they publish - I spend a lot of time reading their stuff. Recently, work I have discovered and been really impressed by is the collaborative project Goldin+Senneby. Their research and the manner in which they present their practice, has been really inspiring.

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