Material Matters

Sarah BridglandArvuta, 2011425 x 455 x 60mm, mixed media



During 2012 and 2013 Drawing Room will present four six month long exhibitions within UBM’s London headquarters on the 9th Floor which will showcase the work of emerging, professional artists living or working in the Borough of Southwark.

Material Matters focuses on the varied ways in which artists recycle materials and reference the everyday and common place within their work. Featuring works by eight, emerging artists, the exhibition explores ideas associated with consumption and mass production and intersects with UBM's own exploration of Sustainability in a business context.

Many of the artists recycle found materials and discarded objects, altering their function, status and lifespan to create new forms. Sarah Bridgland's delicate paper works inhabit a territory between sculpture and collage. She constructs her works from discarded items, second-hand ephemera collected from junk shops and fragments of her own printed media. Using forms and materials that are explicitly nostalgic, she creates miniature worlds where the past is re-experienced in a new way – half real, half imagined. Ben Newton's playful two-dimensional sculptures are made from plaster and scraps of coloured Corex (commonly used in packaging and commercial display). Working with a limited colour palette of red, blue, yellow, black and white, the Corex forms create abstract patterns and constellations, bringing to mind works by the De Stijl art movement and artists such as Piet Mondrian.

Other works within the exhibition explore the degeneration of materials over time and environmental issues such as pollution. Keith Roberts incorporates raw, industrial materials (clay, plaster, sheets of metal) in addition to found objects (tin cans, wall boards) into his sculptural relief works. Roberts is interested in the accidental environmental processes that occur over time and the deterioration of materials within works. In his series ‘Sangerland’, the oxidisation of tin cans creates unique patterns within each work, drawing our attention to the materials used and their lifespan. Ben Long uses appropriated imagery, materials and craft skills to create works that simultaneously reference art history and working class experience within an urban context. In 'The Great Travelling Exhibition', he inscribed images onto the rear of white trucks that had become dirty from built up exhaust emissions. These trucks then travelled around the country making their regular deliveries. The work draws attention to environmental damage from pollution whilst the original project also attempted to engage an audience who might otherwise have little or no involvement in the visual arts. 

Other artists focus our awareness on the complex relationship we have with objects and consumable goods. Mauro Bonacina's paintings, photographs and installations often present the physical aftermath of an action. In his series of photographs 'LONDON.ENGLAND.' he documents the lifespan of a juice carton – from its starting point, filled with juice, to its final trampled outcome. Rebecca Ackroyd's drawings verge on the sculptural, referencing the three-dimensionality of everyday objects such as industrial flooring and old blinds. Her works carry suggestions of the materials and objects that make up the environments that we inhabit but tend to pass by unnoticed. Similarly Will Jarvis's paintings take their cue from daily routines and commonplace items such as bathroom plugs and toothpaste. Painted with as much intricacy as a Dutch still life, their meticulous detail is at odds with the mundane and disposable nature of the subject matter.

The implications of exploring sustainability within the sphere of contemporary art are complex, raising much wider concerns around arts production and assimilation into the market place, as objects to be desired and consumed. Defiantly decorative and often dramatically scaled, Lizi Sanchez's work is born of time-intensive material processes that imitate, but essentially contrast with, those of the mass market and the glossy high-end manufacturing of boom-time art production. Drawn towards materials commonly associated with packaging and display such as gift wrapping, ribbon and glitzy baubles, her collages and sculptures look at making and production in a market-driven world where surface, style and presentation are the ultimate end.

Material Matters was curated by Jacqui McIntosh (Project Leader, Drawing Room) and Amy-Rose Enskat (UBM Curatorial Intern).

Related exhibitions:

Signs of the City –  8 April 2013 – 6 September 2013

Olivia Bax, Christopher Bond, Jack Brindley, Rob Chavasse, Marcus Cope, Freya Douglas-Morris, Benjamin Jenner

Parallels of Latitude – 19 March 2012 – 21 September 2012

Jessie Bond, Ben Deakin, Pippa Gatty, Haruka Hashiguchi, Andy Jackson, Sam Messenger, Inês Rebelo