Matt Morris

This artist I find very exciting. His work is all about tools and he looks at them in a variety of ways. He uses painting and drawing on works on a variety of supports including old walls directly. He also cuts and folds paper and makes paper installations but the tool paintings are what really draw me to his work.


The gallery pieces explore the tools on large canvases making traditional objects used for work of all types. The tool box is unpacked and he plays with the sale and the means of representing them. The spade comes off the wall and into the floor for example making a reference to the function. These are relatively exciting canvases and manage to maintain some of the freshness that the drawings have. The work on walls of course has a immediacy that it is hard to get on a canvas. The drawings are often on rough wood (like a conglomerate) which the media blends into. The old walls here (in Morocco?) are also absorbing something. That becoming part of the wall is a bit like painting onto the unprimed canvas or directly onto cloth. A little like what i am doing with painting on muslin and calico. This is something I am enjoying playing with in the studio.


Matt’s webpage

Reading about walking

Some initial notes on walking from Lauren Elkin ‘Flaneuse’ 2016:

I am using this book as a starting point and the bibliography has given me some references of interest. It is mainly about literature (and part memoire but this is less directly relevant).

  • I want to question the visibility of the artist in the street today as we walk and the value of that walking to us as a practice. To do this I need to focus on gender as I am questioning to what extent this affects our ability to idle and become invisible. I also want to question how gender affects our gaze.
  • the idea that women were attracted to the city which gave them anonymity and freedom. ‘Do we want to stand out or blend in? …to attract or escape the gaze? Be independent and invisible?..(Elkin 2)french verb flaner – to wander aimlessly.
  • Flaneur 19th century idle rich male who wanders observing the urban spectacle of Paris. An observer who knows without knowing. According to Balzac (Elkin 10) there are 2 types: the idler and the artist.There are many contradictions in the usage.
  • Walking gives us a sense of freedom, we feel that we have invented our walks and we criss cross and turn back (Certeau). With GPS and surveillance we are less free.
  • ‘streets seem saturated with presence even when noone is there’ Paris (Elkin 6)
  • Learning to see meant not being able to look away (Elkin 7)
  • Flaneuse implies the possibility of the female gaze. Elkin claims that the Flaneuse exists (23)
  • The importance of being invisible when walking ( Luc Sante) Female desire to be free of the gaze (Elkin 13).
  • Modern era female sculptures replaced with Men – see Les Dites Cariatides.
  • Late 20th Century Situationists and psychogeographers tendency to be male


Initial bibliography:

Lauren Elkin Flaneuse (Women Walk the city) 2016

Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema 1975 (the male gaze)

Michel de Certeau Walking the city (from the Practice of Everyday Life). 1984

Reflections on Walking

I have been reading and walking. Looking at various sources and following the pathways around Madrid, step by step. I want to make some notes about this and how it connects to my practice now.

The 2 main ‘types of walking’ that interest me are: walking in groups and walking and thinking alone. The first I have not read so much about yet but it interests me as a form of protest and empowerment for groups of people and can be local or global (as in 2003 Iraq protests). This idea of walking together is about peaceful protest. Both Elkins and Solnit refer to various examples, Solnit especially and this is something I want to look at alongside the history of the miners strike in relation to Barnsley. I also want to consider the use of the trades union’s banners.

The second type is more about getting lost in public and thinking things through. This is something I do habitually. Remaining alone allows me to not to break with the mental space i am in, so I am in public but I am alone with my thoughts. Solnit talks about the pace of thinking being the same as that of walking and about the need for time to think things through. Something she suggests, and I agree, is compromised by the way our time is becoming digitalised and we can do some things very quickly. One example she gives of this is internet ‘one click’ shopping. The paradox is that this does not appear allow us more time to savour other pleasures more slowly but means we can be even more occupied in urgent activity.

Virginia Woolf uses the ‘need’ to buy a pencil as an excuse to go for a walk. I go to local shops daily as was customary before refrigerators as an reason to walk and be in the local streets to share the space with others and to mull over the day. But what is interesting me the most at the moment is how we think during these strolls. I enjoy getting a little lost, time permitting, and will always stray in new directions. This allows me to navigate the streets from new perspectives. This morning for example I came across a ‘Dalialeda’ a Dalia garden (bit like a rose garden) which I had never realised existed (in this place or any other). This in itself is interesting in that I had strayed ever so slightly and noticed something that was always there. Often we are stuck noticing the same things, making the same marks, solving the problems in the same ways and we cannot see or notice things which are right there: on the street, paper, cloth in front of us.

Having walked through the garden I left down a side street which I don’t know very well and decided to follow it. This lead me down into another garden which I eventually recognised as one I know from another angle: by approaching it in another way. Of course I could have easily used a map or GPS on my phone, however this new approach serves for me as a very useful metaphor for how walking helps me think. This new approach is about encountering a familiar territory, such as my double sided hangings, but seeing them in a new way. For example the moment I think of the double sided nature of the trades union banners. Or maybe I bring together the use of paint on one piece of work with that on another. The being lost is a metaphor for not knowing where to go with work. If we use the familiar route we can probably create what we have done before but if we are trying to achieve something new that means rethinking and being ‘lost’ in some way in the process. The lostness is, of course, relative. I am not in the dessert or trying to change everything I do. I know the direction of home and it was less than a km away in this case.


Making Day 9th October

For the first making day of the academic year I chose to try to drag forward this unresolved painting which I am making for the exhibition in la corrala. The idea is to hang approx 8 ‘sheetlike’ works from poles in between the columns in the gallery space. Although this is not working in a site specific way as i have been the site of the museum is a ‘corrala’: a typical building of Madrid of the late 19th century.

img_1925    img_1923-1

I have been stuck with this 5th piece as the first ones I have left as shown to the gallery but I felt the need to develop them further. I want to add more layering of the figures and try working on both sides of the fabric throughout the process. This piece had been left at the stage above for over a month whilst I avoided working on it.


I started by going over the pink areas on the other side of the fabric – something I havent done on the previous 4 pieces. I then added traces of women cigarette factory workers using orange lines on both sides – this took quite a long time as for the pink I had to lie it flat and wait to dry and then work upright on the orange. whilst waiting for the pink to dry I set up another stretcher and having been and measured the space on Saturday I made this one wider. This one barely fits into the studio and I am not sure how I will be able to put it in the floor if necessary. I will deal with that problem when I come to it.


I then chose to work in thicker paint on some of the faces and and hands. This was interesting on the second side – for which I ran out of time – as some of the paint passes through and you are working with it together with new paint.


I tried looking at the traces up close and against light – here at the window the figures become mixed with the background. I am questioning how the lighting will work in the gallery. Last year I changed to thicker fabric but I am not sure the artificial light will be so strong – I think I need to go back to the gallery with some samples of the fabrics and try them in different spaces – if course I wont be able to play with the lighting at the moment but I will when I put my work up.


I got some really useful feedback, that some of the faces stand out a lot more – do I want that? why are the two sides different, how are they different?

Could I go back and paint over the background? Yes I think so, is that layer now too overwhelmed by the new one? I think maybe I do not need such strong negative space. Although I love negative space and am drawn to using it in this piece it is sort of underwhelming – partly because of the colour which does not receed. None of the colours recede. The pink lines are lost against the new orange ones – could they become blue. I tried blue on the drawing but did not like it so chose orange. However, the drawing was only very limited help as the support – cartridge paper – is so different to the muslin and one sided.

Another comment was that maybe it is finished. I understand that it works to a certain extent and all my work looks rather underdone. However, I feel it needs something – i am not sure what but I hope I know when it reaches that stage. One thing I want is for the lines to be stronger but without overdoing them or making them look too contrived or controlled.

I am glad I chose to work on this for making day as it pushed me further in to starting to solve how I can take this forward and I will only solve the problem by doing this. I think it will still take some time.

Looking at Barnsley Stats

Interactive map showing racial mix in England

I wanted to look at some figures about Barnsley and the Guardian had this interactive map – really interesting as the figures show:


Total pop (000s): 226.3
% White, British: 95.095
% White Irish: 0.354
% White, other: 1.149
% Mixed: 0.751
% Asian or Asian British: 1.414
% Black or Black British: 0.619
% Chinese: 0.221
% Other: 0.309

Although there is apparently racial tension and according to interviews with local people some fear of immigration there is a very high white British concentration – way above average for the UK and for Yorkshire. The graphics show it as standing out.
Unemployment, on the other hand, is above average for Uk and the area particularly for males
Barnsley 8.5%  Yorkshire and Humber 6.6%  GB 6.2%
Barnsley 5& Yorkshire and Humber:  5.4 % GB 5%
This is a common trend from what I understand of the GB labour market – more poorly paid service industry jobs aimed at women and less traditionally male work. I obviously need to investigate further.


Employment by occupation (Apr 2015-Mar 2016)

Yorkshire And The Humber
Great Britain
Soc 2010 Major Group 1-3 36,000 32.7 40.1 44.6
1 Managers, Directors And Senior Officials 8,200 7.4 9.3 10.4
2 Professional Occupations 14,500 13.1 17.8 19.9
3 Associate Professional & Technical 13,300 11.9 12.6 14.1
Soc 2010 Major Group 4-5 25,200 22.9 21.6 21.3
4 Administrative & Secretarial 11,600 10.4 10.2 10.6
5 Skilled Trades Occupations 13,600 12.2 11.3 10.5
Soc 2010 Major Group 6-7 24,600 22.3 18.1 16.9
6 Caring, Leisure And Other Service Occupations 10,700 9.7 9.7 9.2
7 Sales And Customer Service Occs 13,900 12.5 8.3 7.6
Soc 2010 Major Group 8-9 24,400 22.1 20.3 17.2
8 Process Plant & Machine Operatives 8,900 8.0 8.3 6.4
9 Elementary Occupations 15,500 14.0 11.9 10.8
Source: ONS annual population survey
Notes:   Numbers and % are for those of 16+
% is a proportion of all persons in employment

this bears out my suspicions so far although interesting to note above average skilled trades and occupations. The ominous Elementary occupations is 50% above national average.

Qualifications (Jan 2015-Dec 2015)

Qualifications (Jan 2015-Dec 2015)

                            Barnsley(Level)              Barnsley (%)      Yorkshire And The Humber (%)           Great Britain  (%)
NVQ4 +       34,600                      22.8                    306                                   37.1
NVQ3 +        69,000                     45.6                    53.5                                   57.4
NVQ2 +       101,100                     66.8                    70.1                                   73.6
NVQ1 +        124,400                    82.2                    83.1                                   84.9
Other             10,200                     6.8                     7.2                                     6.5
None              16,700                   11.0                     9.8                                      8.6

Source: ONS annual population survey
Notes:   For an explanation of the qualification levels see the definitions section.
Numbers and % are for those of aged 16-64
% is a proportion of resident population of area aged 16-64
ALL Stats from ONS via the Guardian