Tag Archives: Matthew Denniss

Trefor Quarry October 2018

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Rebecca Solnit

A Field Guide To Getting Lost (Excerpt)

The Blue Of The Distance

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It dispersed among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water, the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of the land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue. 

For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edges of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. “Longing,” says the poet Robert Hass, “because desire is full of endless distances.” Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world. One soft humid early spring morning driving a winding road across Mount Tamalpais, the 2,500-foot mountain just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a bend reveals a sudden vision of San Francisco in shades of blue, a city in a dream, and I was filled with a tremendous yearning to live in that place of blue hills and blue buildings, though I do live there, I had just left there after breakfast, and the brown coffee and yellow eggs and green traffic lights filled me with no such desire, and besides I was looking forward to going hiking on the mountain’s west slope. 

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of the distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away. 

The mystic Simone Weil wrote to a friend on another continent, “Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated.” For Weil, love is the atmosphere that fills and colors the distance between herself and her friend. Even when that friend arrives on the doorstep, something remains impossibly remote: when you step forward to embrace them your arms are wrapped around mystery, around the unknowable, around that which cannot be possessed. The far seeps in even to the nearest. After all we hardly know our own depths.

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I’m Not Concerned About The Specific Circles at Keep In Touch, Seoul, 05.01.19 – 27.01.19

Matt Denniss

I’m Not Concerned About The Specific Circles

This exhibition presents three new works by Matt Denniss, an artist based in Manchester, UK. In different ways and through different approaches, these works address ideas around distance, journeys and perception of time.

Untitled (2018) is a drawing made using oil bar on paper. It depicts an exposed rock face on the side of a mountain in an abandoned granite quarry in Trefor, Wales, UK. Material had been extracted from the mountain over a period of many years revealing the fractured, foliated rock strata within. Millions of years of geological activity are laid bare, and in turn, will quite possibly be evident for many millennia in the future. The treatment of the subject both in terms of the quick, expressive use of oil bar and the tight cropping of the image blurs this context. The drawing starts to lose sense of scale; perhaps starting to look like something else -massive mountain ranges seen from the air or waves on the sea.

The moving image work I’m Not Concerned About The Specific Circles (2018) shows a sequence of photographs taken of book pages that depict rock formations, diagrams of ancient pyramids, sand dune systems and maps. They are combined with voice over and subtitles consisting of text fragments, appropriated from the H.P. Lovecraft short story The Lost City. The ostensibly unconnected visuals and text make occasional associations, and the two start to form a narrative logic. The piece is a meditation on intersections between human activity and geological time as well as reflecting the artists’ interest in chance, appropriation and bricolage.

Denniss has a long-running interest in creating simple, ad-hoc or improvised devices to make his work. He often incorporates off-the-shelf components modified or coerced to perform a particular task. In The Journey (2018), a dictaphone connected to a contact microphone was placed inside a plywood box and sent by courier from Manchester, UK to Seoul. The dictaphone recorded for 51 hours until its batteries eventually ran out. The microphone picked up every sound made when the box was handled, knocked and dropped as well as some ambient noise. The box recorded its long journey, capturing these ephemeral, fleeting traces of sound, and bearing bureaucratic scribblings and stickers, applied as it made its way. At Keep In Touch, the plywood box containing the recording equipment is displayed on a shelf, the dictaphone playing back its journey through a speaker. It explores the artists’ interest in temporality, chance and spontaneity.

Matt Denniss was born in Lancashire, UK in 1984. He has a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College and has exhibited his work across the UK and internationally. His diverse practice incorporates moving image, drawing, installation and sound. He explores interests in cultural ideas, personal history, journeys and architecture as well as producing meditations on time, landscape and memory. He lives and works in Manchester, UK.

Ynys Llanddwyn Research Trip

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Parys Mountain Research Trip

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Wigan Archives, Leigh Town Hall

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The Tetley Open: Artists’ Film

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I’m pleased to be showing The Turing Suite in a film screening at The Tetley in Leeds. The film screening will feature work by artists from the North of England. It is on the 11th of November from 6 -8 pm and is a free event.

The Turing Suite was made in collaboration with We Are Willow.

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21st Rogue Open Studios

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Public Preview: Friday 14th October, 6-9pm

Open: Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, 12-5pm / FREE

Rogue Artists’ Studios, 66-72 Chapeltown Street, Manchester, M1 2WH

Rogue Artists’ Studios is celebrating its 21st anniversary with what will be its last Open Studios at Crusader Mill.  A highlight of Manchester’s art calendar, the annual weekend-long event offers members of the public, curators and collectors the opportunity to meet some of Manchester’s most exciting emerging and established artists.

Currently home to 90+ contemporary artists Rogue is the largest artists’ studio community in the UK outside of London.  But as Rogue announce a series of projects to mark its 21st anniversary, the artist members are still to secure a new home ahead of December when their lease ends.

Spanning all forms of visual art from painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and more, visitors are welcomed to the two-day event when the artists’ throw open their doors.

In addition, Rogue Project Space will present Excuse Me While I Am Changing, an exhibition of new works by artists Matthew Bamber, Linda Hemmersbach, Hannah Leighton-Boyce, and Michelle Shields. Curated by Lucy Harvey, the exhibition presents works which respond to the shifting and liminal spaces which surround Rogue Artists’ Studios.

Rogue Cinema will also present a programme of short artists films and moving image works.

*Unfortunately Rogue Studios is only accessible by several stairwells.

For press enquiries please contact Jennifer Dean on j.dean06@gmail.com