– Lockdown Palimpsest
– Tribute to an icon etched in to our memory I
– Tribute to an icon etched in to our memory II
Photo credits: Tim Bowditch
“The starting point for this project revolves around looking at brutalist landmarks in Croydon. I was particularly drawn to the ‘50p’ building, formerly known as the NLA tower. The building’s unique physical quality seems to hold a certain nostalgia with local people and Londoners in general. I decided to create a tribute of the idolised structure in the form of an etching, a very traditional and laborious process which is usually used to honour a particular point of interest. I have created various grounds on the etching plate in order to rework, to develop and abstract the structure of the building. As with my previous work, I’ve taken this traditional process and added a sense of carelessness and non-preciousness in the way the etchings have been torn and pasted to symbolise a sense of urban palimpsest decay and rejection of preservation. These etchings will be physically pasted and left out exposed to the elements, pasted over a series of other billboard posters, to imitate the effect left when a series of billboard posters are pasted over each other giving the effect of a dendrochronology similar to trees, an urban palimpsest.
The next two proposed works are digital collages consisting of spliced together posters imitating a pause in history where advertising is put on hold in the wake of a lockdown, a palimpsest of Croydon’s specific commercial identity from the past few decades spliced with its its recent gentrification.
In an ever fast paced world dictated by busy workloads, being wired up to technologies, a constant stream of advertising in the form of imposing billboards. We are turning to instructed meditation and mindfulness in order to manage our wellbeing and self-therapise in an age where our NHS services are under the greatest constraints it has ever faced. Words such as ‘pause’ in graffiti fonts have been cut out of the compositions to suggest a moment of mindfulness for the passer-by. This preach is designed to mirror the preach of modern advertising.”
~ Matt Gee
Our city, like our planet, has been laid down in layers. A slice through the strata of our streets reveals Victorian sewers laid alongside Roman baths, plague pits dissected by high-speed railways, and long-forgotten sacred spaces beneath car parks and supermarkets. Sometimes preserving, sometimes crushing to distortion, sometimes irreversibly metamorphosing, this urban-ply mirrors the action of the Earth’s crust, where fossil fuels, marble and diamonds are created by destructive forces.
In a period where the trace you leave behind acts as an indicator to the stature of your morality, consumption of images (ephemeral as they are) is guilt-free. In his latest works, Matt Gee responds to changing attitudes on the sanctity of images by subjecting ‘traditionally-made’ prints to processes more commonly seen on billboards. Pasting over, obscuring, and tearing these carefully crafted pictures, the artist reflects a society where preservation may not be a priority.
– Philip Elbourne writing about Anthro-Peel by Matt Gee