Ruthin Craft Centre
The Centre for the Applied Arts


Gallery 2

Matthew Harris

Cut, Shift, Repeat 8 July – 24 September 2023

On first viewing, a work by Matthew Harris, whether made from paper or cloth, is an arresting object. The abstract surface patterns, criss crossed by stitch, or segmented by waxed thread, like the accidental blooms of crop and path within ancient field patterns or the wayward formal daring of graphic musical scores, are in themselves alluring. But with this purely aesthetic response comes a forceful recognition of the manufacture compacted in each piece. These are potent images, pregnant with meaning. And, as the title of this show indicates, the potency lies in the process by which the image has been achieved, rather than in its sheer graphic qualities. For Matthew is intensely a maker, both constructing and excavating meaning from the slenderest of inspirations. His works are permanent records of the painstaking creative activity of imaginative attention, transforming ephemeral humble experiences into resonant three dimensional art works.

Matthew is a graduate of the Fine Art Textile Course at Goldsmiths College in London. Over many years he has worked across paper and textile, using a combination of different techniques – from drawing and painting to cutting, folding, pleating and stitching. Gradually, a complex systematic practice, composed of simple elements, has emerged. At its heart is Matthew’s commitment to the Japanese Zen command: “Kan Kyakka” – which he roughly translates as “Pay attention to what’s beneath your feet.” His inspirations are scraps of salvaged material or intense memories of inconsequential things – a piece of roofing felt, a crumpled crisp packet, a four ring plastic holder for beer cans, the shapes left by machines on the floor of an abandoned factory, a collapsed child’s pink Halloween paper lantern, on the pavement beneath a street lamp. Matthew explores these found things in a variety of ways through drawing and manipulation, before they become the starting points for groups of drawings and cloth pieces.