Winner of the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize 2014, Matt Smith, tells us about his new work for COLLECT, his inspiration and other projects since winning the Prize last year…
Can you tell us about the work you are making for COLLECT?
I’m working on two bodies of work for COLLECT. Both involve brining disparate cast ceramic pieces together to make complex new formations. The first group of new work is a series of ceramic wall pieces. They draw on the visual language of historic porcelain palaces where large collections of ceramics were used as elaborate wall decorations. There is a balance between the visual confusion of the form and the more considered and restrained colour palette.
The second body of work is called Feast. I was asked to consider the relationship between craft and fine art for an exhibition at Pallant House in Chichester last Autumn and these new pieces develop the thinking from that show. The Feast pieces place newly created ceramic sculptures in silver mounts. The silver mounts would originally have formed parts of tableware. The pieces thereby assume a place at the table and raise their status through their association with precious metal. The pieces also refer back to the practice of mounting oriental porcelain in precious metal mounts in the eighteenth century.
What is the main inspiration for the work?
My practice deals a lot with appropriation of objects and recontextualising them into new groups. I am very interested in collecting theory and how we can build up a picture of lives lived through the objects and collections that those people group together and leave behind. These works are collections created by fictional collectors.
Have you shown at COLLECT before?
No, I’ve been going to COLLECT since it started at the V&A and I am really excited to be showing there.
What is it about showing at COLLECT this year that most excites you?
Aside from showing with people I really admire, COLLECT provides and international focus for curators and collectors of applied art. I am really looking forward to talking with them at the show as well as catching up with colleagues and friends.
What other projects are you working on?
I am just about to open a group show that I have co-curated at Contemporary Applied Arts. ‘Leaving Home’ sees the work of twenty artists who were commissioned by Unravelled Arts for site specific interventions at the National Trust. I am very interested to see what happens to the works, which were made for specific houses and to tell specific stories about those houses, when they move into the white cube gallery space at Southwark Street.
I also have a piece of work that is about to set off of a world (well European) tour which has come out of the publication of Nature Morte by Michael Petry. The exhibition considers the divergent ways in which artists respond to the idea of still lives.
How has winning the inaugural Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramic Prize helped your career?
Being a part of Young Masters was a great way to get the work seen by a new audience. Winning the Prize was a complete bonus and it has led to showing with Cynthia Corbett Gallery at a number of shows, including COLLECT. The publicity around the show had helped to raise the profile of the work and hopefully may open doors in the future.
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery is showing a curated selection of new ceramic works by artists who featured in the inaugural 2014 Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize, including overall winner Matt Smith, highly commended artists Jongjin Park and Zemer Peled, shortlisted artists Jo Taylor, Kevin Callaghan and Christabel Birbeck, and Guest Artist Chris Antemann.
COLLECT is the International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects, featuring 35 International Galleries showing world-class, museum-quality contemporary craft. The Fair takes place at the Saatchi Gallery, London, from 8 – 11 May.