Friday, 30 May 2014

Mathew Sawyer at Spacex until 12th July

He would probably hate it but ‘quirky’ is surely the right word to describe Mathew Sawyer. His work is wry and amusing, but also warm, familiar and even, in a way, nostalgic ... and I mean that in a good way.

There are more serious underlying issues in his stuff but they are well wrapped in a sugar coating of comedy. He is the slightly odd but amusing bloke next door who you wouldn’t mind having a pint with.

This is Sawyer’s first solo show in a public gallery: A mixture of work spanning a number of years which includes paintings, ‘art documents’, a bit of sculpture, some digital artwork and a couple of videos. It’s all quite interesting – even if there is nothing which really shocks or surprises.

The more I think of it, the more I think that ‘quirky’ is the right description of what he does – although at times I get an uneasy feeling that he is straying into Jeremy Beadle territory with his anonymous intrusions into the lives of strangers. The most appealing of his pieces I found to be the one about the owl in his garage – until it turned nasty and (spoiler alert) the owl encountered the snake.

If you see him playing guitar with his band you realise that he is actually from a different time. At 37 years old he has been doing his stuff, music and art, for well over ten years - and I suspect he seemed out of his own time when he started. Musically, he’s difficult to place. He seems familiar but didn’t we stop listening to this kind of stuff years ago? 

He can, perhaps, be likened to a sort of melancholic Billy Bragg - but without the politics or the edginess (and that’s not really Billy Bragg, is it?). He appears slightly worried throughout the set but is also amusing, reassuring and comfortable – even when he starts singing in Exorcist-like voices. By the way, check out his video in the gallery foyer and you will see him ‘out-Oursler’ David Bowie by seven years, just by sticking his head through a hole in a box.

This sounds as though I disapprove. Don’t get me wrong: Even though the art and the music seems familiar it’s all enjoyable - and surely it does no harm to revisit more comfortable times?

After all, the underlying questions about how people relate to one another, and the need for community and support are, more than ever, relevant to our lives today - aren’t they?

So, check out his stuff at Spacex. I defy you not to smile wryly ...

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Teign Artists' Days of Art at TAAG - Last days

I called into TAAG yesterday and found that the Teign Artists' Days of Art is showing this week. The exhibition includes the work of several artists who are regular exhibitors here, including Josie Gould, Petra Lewin, Marta Killey, and Pat Bray (see previous post). All of these produce interesting work and Petra Lewin, in particular, seems to be breaking new ground with some bigger and bolder pictures. Also on show is some work from Elizabeth Rashley, who does exquisite linocuts.

The biggest surprise, though, is the terrific electronic material produced by Ben Yates ( Here are a few snaps:

The exhibition is only on this week until the end of Friday - So check it out while you can.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Exeter College FdA Exhibition Open Evening

The FdA open evening was a great success and was an opportunity to catch up with people not seen very often (at least in one place). It was good to see Rowan from Spacex; Jez from the Sparks in Electrical Jelly blog; and Mary, doing well on the final year of her photography degree at Plymouth. We also got to see old Access chums, now on the photography FdA, who we rarely bump into these days. Below I have posted some pre-show photos of the Fine Art students' work, followed by a few snaps taken at the open evening:














The following photos are from the open evening. Unfortunately a number did not turn out well as my juggling with a glass of wine and the camera produced shaky results. The photos also tend to focus unduly on my sole board at the exhibition, where I was lurking, listening to viewer's comments ...

Art lover ignoring my video on the show reel

Art lovers

My board

Friday 16th May is the last day, so get along and see it if you can (details in previous post).

Monday, 12 May 2014

Exeter College FdA Exhibition

If you are in Exeter this week, the Exeter College FdA exhibition is on from 12th to 16th May in the Centre for Creative Industries, opposite central station. It's open from 10 to 6 pm daily. The exhibition includes fine art, photography and graphic design.

The open evening, when the contributors will be around, is from 6 to 8.30 pm on Thursday 15th May.