Plymouth once had a zoo. It lasted from from 1962 to 1978. It’s the impact of those notions of progress that Matthew Raw is exploring in Tactile Change.
Tactile Change, at The Gallery, Plymouth College of Art, is Matthew’s second solo show. And the history of Plymouth Zoo is his catalyst to scrutinise society. It questions what society equates to progress and how individuals react to change.
Tactile Change features ceramic prints taken from carved wooden blocks. It’s bound by fencing clad in ceramic tiles which restrict movement around the exhibition space.
Artist Matthew Raw said: “I grew up in post-industrial landscape Manchester, which felt like a place where old and new architecture was always meeting in harmony or clashing around me.
“Since then I’ve found myself drawn to investigate the architectural scars of every city that I visit. Investigating what impact industry and progress have had on the communities that form there.
‘Plymouth has been a delight’
“Working in Plymouth has been a delight, learning about the history of the city and the forces that have shaped it over the past century. I’m fascinated by the mixture of buildings new and old, and by people’s relationships to the notion of progress in the city. The things they hope will change and the things they want to stay the same. I’m impressed with the way things are done in Plymouth.”
Matthew worked with children from Plymouth School of Creative Arts (PSCA). They created elephant designs in response to a short story about an elephant that travels to Plymouth Zoo from its home overseas.
Matthew asked the children to think about ideas of migration. And to think about the animals that were placed in quarantine in Plymouth before continuing their journeys around the UK. 50 designs – a selection of the children’s drawings – have formed repeating motifs for ceramic tiles. These will be used to create lasting impact for the city through their installation as permanent pieces of public art at Central Park and PSCA.
Speaking of his workshops with PSCA, Matthew said: “I’m currently working with architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios on my largest commission to date, part of a large mural on their new Arts & Humanities building at the University of Warwick.
“When I found out that they also worked with Plymouth College of Art on the design for Plymouth School of Creative Arts, a school with making at the epicentre of its curriculum, I knew that I wanted to work with children there for Tactile Change’”
Tactile Change is at The Gallery, at the Gallery, Plymouth College of Art, from September 18 to November 16.
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