Jul 26, 2012

Matt Richards - Visualizing the rhythm of E17

This exhibition should capture the individual musical identities of Walthamstow's collective sound of diverse musicians:

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2012 E17 Art Trail?
Musical Views a collaboration of sight & sound, and will culminate in an outdoor exhibition of portrait, and musically inspired illustrations, accompanied by audio. I'm an illustrator and I'm exploring the Borough's rich cultural diversity by looking for music (traditional or contemporary) being played.  Looking at musicians from all walks of life, I'm documenting our meetings, and putting my findings together as an illustrated portrait exhibition.

Music has been a massive part of my life. At school I learnt to play my Granddad's cornet, then the Trombone, guitar and taught myself enough to find my way around a keyboard. I've DJ’d for the best part of 20 years and also tried my hand at production. I’m really excited about collaborating with the area’s musical talent (hidden or well known)  and look forward to seeing what imagery and soundscapes we produce along the way. Before people visit the exhibition, I want them to visit the website where they will be able to actually download the sounds that each musician has created, and discover some of the interesting stories along the way. That way they can plug in their iphone, mp3 player, or whatever, and totally immerse themselves while looking at the art.

2. Is this your first time in the Trail or are you an E17 Art Trail veteran? 
I'm a newbie. I've only been in the area a year, last year I donated a piece for the opening of the Mill, it was a print of Manze's Pie & Mash shop found on the High St. It's still on sale on my shop. It's really exciting that I can put on a whole exhibition this year but also slightly nerve-racking as it is my first solo show!

3. What are the challenges of getting everything ready for your Art Trail event? 
The obvious one for me that I am hosting an outdoor exhibition, weather proofing the work is going to be a challenge! I'm just praying for a good Indian Summer! As part of my research, I have been meeting local musicians. Having to set up recording equipment, testing levels, interviewing, and taking enough reference shots for my illustrations all within tight time-frames can be quite challenging. All of the participants have been more than generous, welcoming me into their homes, and effectively gifting me with their talents. For this reason I feel the project sits comfortably within this year's theme.

4. Do you remember the first artist that really influenced you? Does that artist’s influence still have an impact on your work? 
I remember being quite into the Pre-Raphaelites when I was younger, so things like Ophelia by Waterhouse and also Millais. I'd visit them in the National Gallery regularly. That was before being introduced properly to modern art, I remember in art history lessons discussing the rationale behind Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, and starting to understand the theory of movements such as Cubism. Learning of the Bauhaus movement paved my way into a design based career. My tutor at the time was very traditional and a stern supporter of live drawing, so I guess that has remained in the sense that I still do a lot of portrait work and my style does have a sense of realism about it.

5. The E17 Art trail has become bigger every year. Do you think it is because more artists are calling it home? 
Well if you are looking at me then I guess so yes! There is talk of a migration from creative hubs such as Hackney, maybe it is designers/artists from those areas who want to start families and want more space that is bringing them this way? I think what has become evident in my research with local musicians, is that the area is so thin-on-the-ground for public venues (no cinema + pubs & music venues closing) that community initiated projects such as the E17 Art Trail is the only way the area's talent can find a home. Hopefully that cycle will reverse as these projects do get larger and attract more publicity.

6. What has E17 bestowed on you?
I was born in London and have spent most of my life here, but I have to say, some of my neighbours are the friendliest I have ever met.

Musical Views runs from 1st September - 14th September with a Private view on 1st
For more info and to download the Audio for this exhibition visit http://www.mattrichardsillustration.com/arttrail2012/

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