billboard, 3rd may - 17th may 2021
Hot New It III is the final exhibition in a series in collaboration with Sunderland Culture & Sunderland Museum. This exhibition is presented on a billboard on Silksworth Row, transporting the gallery outside to be enjoyed safely whilst the Museum is closed. A new artwork has been commissioned from Sunderland born artist Matthew Dowell which explores the area that he grew up in and its changing identity.
Matthew Dowell has a research-based practice working across the expanded fields of print, performance, and sculpture.
He is interested in how we define and occupy a place. Responding to specific sites he adopts models of working through exploring social histories and recording signifiers of place, for example: street and welcome signs, mapping, and walking tours. The work he makes is recognisable, but on second glance has marked differences to what is expected.
Matthew has recently been working on ideas of ‘the local’ and seaside towns in the UK. He blurs the boundaries between social history and art, past and present. The work aims to trigger conversations, helping people to move through and look at place through a new lens.
Matthew's image for the billboard is made from two old postcards of Roker Beach. Each one is a photograph taken from a different time but the same angle. Matthew sources and collects these postcards, layering and collaging them together to build larger images of the landscape. Two postcards exist in the same image, one used for the background and one for the text. This enables him to build an image of the same location throughout time.
- ‘Once I have selected a site I will intensely research it and build an archive of imagery and memorabilia to use as the foundation for the work.’
- ‘The work is part a series that grew from a frustration at the North East being generalised and reduced to simple headlines that don't properly represent the place. With the photo collage the aim is to build up an image of a place, in this case the promenade at Seaburn, from multiple images, different periods in time with several memories and voices.’
-‘ I use 'historic' imagery to help unlock memory and help start a conversation about what a place was and is. When we publicly share a memory of a place we are acknowledging our relationship to it and is a form of ownership. To share these memories is a celebration of home, community, and local identity in a positive way, highlighting shared connections and unifying moments.’
More information here, in this blog post written by Matthew for Sunderland Culture