Matt Smith is the winner of the first edition of Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramic Prize in 2014. Following this achievement, in 2016 the artist had a Ceramics Residency at Victoria and Albert Museum.
Matt Smith is interested in how history is a constantly selected and refined narrative that edits out marginalised histories and presents itself as a fixed and accurate account of the past. His practice often consists of site-specific interventions in museums (Queering the Museum, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 2010), historic houses (Unravelling the National Trust 2012-2014) and public collections (Other Stories, Leeds University Art Collection, 2012). Using craft materials and techniques, Matt Smith is infiltrating established organisations and shifting their – and their visitors’ – points of reference.
The Ceramics Residency at Victoria&Albert Museum concluded in March 2016 represented a crucial point for Smith’s ceramic production. Inspired by the museum figurine collection, Smith studied the role of miniatures in the past which normally refers to a status-quo, whether they imply a mythological, worship or social meaning. The artistic output of his residency is “Notes from a Love Song” in 2016 and the more recent series “Wunderkammer” (2017).
In “Wunderkammer” (2017), the artist empties his figurines from their status-quo creating pieces that combine high-art and low-art, choosing a black parian ware that makes even more difficult for the public to interpret and read their origins and value. Many contemporary artistic practices live on the rapports between the past and the present, the construction and the reconstruction and Matt Smith’s pieces are a physical representation of these inseparable concepts. As well the old object is destructed along with its references, function and meaning in favour of a more contemporary artistic narrative.
Smith has undertaken an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Brighton, titled Making Things Perfectly Queer: Art’s use of Craft to signify LGBT identities, following a Dip HE in Ceramics from City Lit, a BA-Hons from the University of Westminster in Ceramics, and MA Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. In 2014 Matt Smith won the inaugural Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize. His exhibitions include: Unravelling Uppark, The National Trust, 2014, Subversive Design, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 2013-14, Unravelling Nymans, Nymans House, The National Trust, 2012, Other Stories (solo show), Leeds University Art Collection, 2012, Queering the Museum (solo show), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 2010 and Milk (solo show), ASPEX, Portsmouth, 2010. He also talks regularly about his practice (Tate Modern, 2012, Valand Academy Gothenburg, 2012).
Ceramic artists are invited to apply now to Young Masters Mayslis Grand Ceramics Prize in 2017. Applications open until 31 March 2017.
Image Credits: Matt Smith, Wunderkammer 1, 2017, Black Parianware, 28 x 26 x 9 cm