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Introduction. Profile. The Matthew Andrews Collection.

Matthew Andrews.

History & Background.

I never studied art at school or went to an art college until I got in to The Royal College of Art at the age of 28 to do an MA in Holography. There have never been any artists in my family history. No one knew, studied or spoke about art and so it never really occurred to me that perhaps art might be an outlet for my imagination and that I might be not only be good at it, but very original too.

I had noticed early on in my life that I was observant. This became apparent when I left school and got a job as a dustman. I was emptying the bins of many of my parents’ friends and could reveal the intimate details of their lives. No one could work out how I knew the things that I did. Needless to say I became the scourge of my parent’s social circle. I still find bins, skips and the generally discarded an everlasting place for the truth, ideas and source material.

My 20’s were spent working in ad agencies and selling on the phone until utter boredom lured me to travel. It was in Melbourne that I first saw a hologram and it was a seminal moment. Although I had been a keen amateur photographer with my own darkroom from the age of 11, I knew in an instant that holography had something no other medium did, something that I felt inside and resonated with. Not only was it exciting to be a ‘pioneer’ but holography seemed to offer a medium that could talk in visual ways about the same cutting edge ideas as the top quantum minds of our day.

It is now proffered by Hawkins and the like that ‘reality’ operates like a hologram and we are but holographic projections occupying the same space and time as other projections that we don’t see (until we find out how). Holography offered me a way to take part in this serious debate, exploring cutting edge ideas and raising questions of significance.

I graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1989 with the Prudential Award for Holography and won a John Downs Trust Award in 1990. I have exhibited for over 22 years in New York, Miami, London, Paris, Haifa, Ghent, Brussels, The Edinburgh Festival, Geneva, Panama, Chile, Farnham amongst many smaller venues, showing a wide range of different types of lenticular, holographic and optical pictures and optically-based installations.

Not long after the RCA, it became very expensive to get holographic materials, and to this day, it is still hard to make them in a viable way. Lenticulars (which arrived around 1695) gave me almost all the potentialities that holography gave me but without the dark room, chemicals, tedium and limited colour of holography. Lenticulars set me free to experiment and explore my imagination without financial ruin. It is the lenticular medium that I now use to make my work. They allow me to explore 3 dimensions in new ways, developing a new language for creative thought and it is lenticulars that offer me the opportunity to continue to melange space and time to great effect.

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Ideas & Inspirations.

I have ideas for everything. I keep having ideas that I can not possibly find the time to make. I have several film ideas, two books, a play, songs, political solutions, traffic flow ideas, buildings, large public landscape projects, a polystyrene garden room, large scale art works, exterior cladding, furniture, lighting, walls, floors and ceilings, especially for the interior design of gents bogs. Having ideas is just a muscle in the brain, with exercise it works well.

I get inspiration from my life, garbage, TV graphics, science, movies, books, the internet and watching people. Rubbish has taught me that what has been thrown away or is unwanted is not useless or uninteresting and also to look in corners. Those people who do the graphics for Newsnight and other news/current affairs programmes distil large topics to fresh new bursts of visualised information everyday; it’s beautiful and on the pulse. Science is the frontier where ‘never before’ things are happening and it keeps your thoughts open. Movies are great stories. People, well they never cease to surprise or inspire me. Human plight is a great source of imagery, fact and stories. The internet is a godsend when searching for anything.

I also make portraits and these are more about unearthing an existing story. I will normally use the client’s collection of pictures, kept in books over a lifetime, or on hard drives these days. I adore the opportunity of going through the visual archives of people and making a bespoke piece relevant to them. Collections of print photos are a bit like dustbins. If you look carefully, especially at the really small ones there are always little gems: grannies at 18, proud moments from the past or mum at her 21st, a babe in arms with grandpa. One can mix six pictures of four generations to reveal the genetic structures of a family by comparison, from whom the beauty bits come and to whom they go. Or one can make a long portrait and use 70 pictures to tell the story of a lifetime or event. I find a lot of material in these archives and I implore anyone to let me have access to every photographic archive, where there are endless visual stories to unearth.

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From Palette to Picture.

A lot of time is spent out with a camera or just collating subject matter and thoughts. Then there is a lot of messing about on a computer, scanning, editing, cropping, colouring, hours sometimes, making the pictures the way you want them, making them fit together in a piece and deliver the desired result.

Creating a lenticilar image is a complex process which uses specialist materials and a great deal of skill.

The process involves laying a blank laminate-covered screen over the top of the print and very carefully registering the lens and paper together until paper and lenticules line up accurately. You have just one chance to marry them together. This is then fed through rollers, whilst avoiding hair, dust, paper fragments, rain drops, telephone calls and keeping it all accurate to ¼ of a pixel over 4ft. If all goes well, a wonderful lenticular print will emerge. If not, you have a piece of paper attached to a piece of plastic, which at least is good for flooring, I have found.

Finished pieces are mounted on a flat rigid surface and then routed for perfect edges. It is then ready for framing or blocking or whatever finishing it needs.

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A day in the Life of...

For 25 years I lived in Soho and had quite a similar routine: up at 8.00am, shower, head downstairs to the best café in London on Broadwick Street for breakfast (a poached egg on toast, two slices of toast and marmalade and two cappuccinos), read the newspapers and then into the studio - a one minute walk away - for 9.30am.

But I have recently married and we moved to Oxford. My wife has two children, Patrick, 17 and Alexandra, 15. It is all very new for me getting up at 7.00am, making breakfast and making sure they are on the bus. I then have to drive eight miles to the studio. I miss the café, the banter and the fashion of Soho.

I like to be in the studio and working by 9.30am. Most days are not the same but generally the morning is spent doing emails, phone calls, accounts, projects and contacts. Otherwise I am either on the computer bringing together all the elements of what I am working on or I am printing, laminating, cutting, mounting and gluing until my fingers can’t take any more and I call it a day.

Once home I am a sucker for TV, the movies and cooking. I do all the cooking in my new family and as they all eat different things or rather won’t all eat the same thing, I make four different suppers everyday. I am a channel-hopping queen and will watch everything all at once, much to everyone’s annoyance.

Other than that I have a boat, which I keep in London at St Katherine’s Docks, and whilst a great party venue, it is also the place I can relax most and it is where my musical tastes get an airing. It always feels like I am on holiday there, especially out on the river. When the new family are not listening, I sing and play the piano but not necessarily at the same time.

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