In The Studio: Matt Calderwood, artist
'I love colour, but it is amazing what you can do with black and white'
Friday 12 April 2013
Matt Calderwood is based in Bow, east London, in a group of studios that were consolidated as a charity in the 1960s. Many of them are still inhabited by original founding artists.
Calderwood inherited his present studio, a large bright space, from the late Carl Plackman, a sculptor whose practice in some ways overlaps with the younger artist. Calderwood even recycled some of Packman's discarded buckets in his own work.
Born on a farm in Rasharkin, Northern Ireland, in 1975, Calderwood settled in London. He is dressed warmly today in colourful gear, and when I point out the contrast with the sombre tones of his sculpture –"Nearly all the work that I have made is black and white" – he gestures at his clothes and says, "I love colour, but it is amazing what you can do within black and white. And any kind of limitation is good."
Calderwood is "happy to be a geeky artist". He revels in the making of his art and sticks to a conceptual structure of self-imposed constraints. "Everything that is not needed is removed," he says. Sometimes, his methods are unconventional. "In the past, I used to get tools and make sculptures with them, but now I make sculptures and use them as tools to produce prints."
He recalls making a film to prove the feasibility of a large installation he was working on. When he watched it he was filled with confidence to assert that the video itself was an artwork: "I was a video artist. I realised that the enormous installations that I was working on were not necessary to communicate an experience or feeling." He now regularly makes video works alongside his sculptures.
Talking to Calderwood, I get the impression that his self-imposed "rules" are rigorously adhered to, but that underneath lurks an artist's transgressive nature. "I developed systems that were very strong; geometries that were difficult to argue with. But now that I have this system in place it is really nice to tease it apart to add other objects or push them in ways that I had not designed them to perform."
He admits that he is a messy worker and is looking forward to cleaning up his studio, now that his Baltic show is up and running. "If I work late and get a pizza, the pizza box lands up sitting on a sculpture. I start to see these connections, and think, 'That is interesting, what if I clad it in cardboard or made it in cardboard?'" It's an intriguing thought.
Matt Calderwood's 'Paper Over the Cracks', Baltic 39, Newcastle (0191 478 1810) to 23 June
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