Now Featuring Matthew Walkerdine

Glasgow-based artist and publisher Matthew Walkerdine makes drawings and prints that merge text, image and sculpture.  Harkening back to early 20th Century art and design aesthetics, his work is also steeped in contemporary zine culture.  With LPP artist Jessica Higgins, Walkerdine also runs Museums Press.

Exclusive Print 1

Exclusive Print 2

Exclusive Print 3

Exclusive Print 4

Exclusive Print 5

Exclusive Print 6

MH: Can you talk about the text in your work?  The gestures and shapes feel so much about drawing, line and weight, etc. but the text adds both a sort of existential weight and a diagrammatic effect.

MW: I’ve had text in my work as long as I can remember. It never used to play as much of a part as it does now, I mean, it had a lot less meaning to what it does now. It used to be more about the text as an “image” in a playful way or a way to bring text to attention, but I’ve slowly melted it into my work. I feel as though it flows through the image, not always standing out but catching the eye and making you look into the work more.

The text is really important to my work. I have doubted it at times, thinking I’m filling space, but they are gestures themselves, in the same way forms are on the page, but just to be said in your head when looking at the work. A sentence is interpreted in many ways by the reader, differently than a passage of text. It can easily be misinterpreted, leaving whoever read it with their own meaning, more to take away, to take for themselves.

Collections of Collections of Collections (From Huge Appetite)

A Little Drawing About ART (From Huge Appetite)

MH: What are some of your influences?  With your series of LPP prints, and elsewhere, I found myself thinking about Soviet textiles and constructivism. That might be the quality of the shapes and the palette, or the spareness of your compositions.

MW: I look at a lot of stuff and love so much, so quite often my “influences” can vary. This is probably fairly obvious but I’m a big fan of self-publishing artists. It gives you a snippet of their work or a project in a way a website could only ever hope for; you’re excited and want to find out more. I love work by Kevin Lyons, Stefan Marx and Holly Stevenson and would never had known about them if it wasn’t for zines I’d picked up.

I’m influenced a lot by installation artists and artists that use a space significantly. And color- color is really important. You mentioned my palette but I wish I had more confidence with my palette. Color and light can alter mood significantly. Artists who use color expansively and manage to pull objects and paintings together collectively really impress me.
I try and read as much as I can, but I’m bad at it, so essays, something with short chapters and dribs and drabs off the Internet do fine for me. Jess got me a GREAT book for my birthday called New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970 and it heavily features on Abstract Expressionism. I’m a huge Robert Motherwell fan. I enjoy finding out about techniques and methods and the essays in this book led into their practice quite heavily. The gesturing suggested by these artists, I feel, features more in my work than anything else, but I have a long, long, long way to go to be up there with those guys!

Small to Medium Image to Try and Help Explain How People Show People How They Feel OR You Show Me How You're Feeling and I'll Show You

MH: Can you talk more about your connection and affinity with Abstract Expressionism?  On the sense of scale and decadent gestures, you seem a bit removed but I can also see some connections… and maybe your interest lies outside of what would show up in your work.

MW: I think more than anything, its more an inspiration and aspiration. I really admire how the artists that were bunched into that ‘group’ worked and had a goal to just make work they felt was contemporary and forward-thinking even though the common man may have felt it wasn’t art at all. That’s also why I admire Donald Judd and his work so much. I admire their changes and developments as much as the work itself, a lot of them reinvented themselves. Many of them also didn’t like being lumped into being ‘abstract expressionists’ and I feel an affinity to that. I would hate to be forced under a banner that I felt didn’t suit just because it was the closest thing that relates to my work. I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned Abstract Expressionism, but the works of these kinds of artists are the ones that inspire me most.

I feel the gesture is there, but on a smaller scale, you’re right. I want to make work on work on larger scales, and I have plans to soon, but I don’t think it is as much of a scale and similarity but a mind-set. Like mentioned before, I have had serous restraints in space and also confidence. I’m becoming happier with where my work is now and the direction that it’s heading. I’m starting to inflict restrictions on my work and approach works in a smarter way: more to how I want the outcome overall. I think I used to consider the thoughts of others quite a lot when I first started out and follow suit of what work which I thought I should be making, not what I should be making for myself. The long and short of it is that I’ve grown a confidence in my work that I’ve not really had before, and I’m happy.

MH: You and Jess Higgins run Museums press, which puts out prints, zines, books and more. How does making zines effect your drawing practice? How much printmaking do you do, or do you do photocopying, laserprinting and so on.

MW: I used to use photocopying a lot in my work, I love repetition and the slight changes a photocopier can add on the day you approach it. When we were in Manchester there was a photocopy place where copies were 2 pence each. It’s real cheap. There were about 8 copiers there in this little newsagents and depending on which day you went and which copier you were allocated by the person behind the counter gave you, you’d get a different output. The variation was insane and a great thing to exploit.

I still have ideas on scraps of paper everywhere for projects or works using the photocopier but the work I have been making and want to make right now doesn’t lend itself well to being copied or scanned. I have been trying to think about how it could lead into a zine though, or which parts could work better than others. For me, starting a zine is always exciting because it always starts with format. It helps us explore how to come up with interesting ways to present work. Not so much the method of the work or what may go in it, but how its going to fold or be bound or where we’re getting it done, or if we can print in a single colour in a low print run. That’s starts you of thinking straight off. Then you can produce the content from there. Maybe that’s why my work looks different so quickly.

Detailed Plan for a Sculpture: Three (+ Drawing)

Detailed Plan for a Sculpture: Six

MH: What are the proposals for sculpture drawings about? Are you a secret sculptor?

MW: I’d like to be, I will be. We’ve been waiting to move house for so long now and we’ve not had the space to make anything in three dimensions but I think I’m working up to it. These started out more like a record so I don’t forget forms. They’re actually really varied works in their size, they go from tiny drawings on the back of receipts to larger works. Despite the text on the images, they’re not so much sculptures but structures in mind for displaying work; they’re like small works in progress. I’ve got loads and loads of them stored up and ready to go. I should make some more.

MH: You and Jess just moved to Glasgow from Manchester.  What are you looking forward to in your new city?  I don’t know Manchester too well, but Glasgow is a fantastic place for art and music.

MW: Yeah, it’s great here. There are some exciting things going on in music and art. Manchester was good, but it never really gelled for me. I left for Manchester having lived in Sheffield for eight years and Sheffield had a real community ethic about it that I think is almost unrivalled in the UK. In Manchester we had a really great group of friends around us, people doing really solid, honest and inspiring things and we’ll miss their being around. If you don’t know Manchester well, for art go to Islington Mill, for small press and self-publishing go to Good Grief! and Salford Zine Library and for music look no further than Comfortable on a Tightrope or Giant Hell; they’re all doing the best in an over saturated and easily influenced city.

So far in Glasgow, and we’ve only been here a few weeks, from the things we’ve attended there seems to be a more widespread community vibe like Sheffield. I’m excited about exploring more. We’ve been fairly busy sorting our flat and new (mini) studio/office and Museums has been busy so we’ve been fulfilling those things first off. It’s a big city and a fair amount of activities seem to take place off the cuff so we’re just taking it as it comes.

I’m looking forward to making some new work as well. I haven’t made any new work as yet, so it will be a flood of work when it does come hopefully. Museums have some really, REALLY exciting plans on the horizon too, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Spread from A Promise of Something Stronger zine with Jess Higgins published by Tropical Waste (Thanks to Seb Wheeler for the photograph)


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