Thursday, 13 August 2009

Matt & Ross

By Esther Bradley

Matt & Ross forged an ongoing collaboration when they met at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design. With a wealth of projects inspired by location and adaptation, the pair’s site-specific work for jotta’s Together, At The Junction exhibition is a modernist mutation for a dying mall.

The penguin donkey begins it's journey in the Lake District, then lands at the Elephant Rooms as elephant donkey! (Click any image to enlarge it)

'Charging Thunder "Duke-a-roo" Cavalcade', created for the jottaContemporary show at Elephant and Castle, is based around a furniture throwback of the 1930’s: A bookcase for the classic penguin paperback that looks a lot like a donkey, unsurprisingly nick-named, a Penguin Donkey.

60 years since it’s conception, the bookcase is still being produced for a mass market, contrasting sharply with the soon to be demolished shopping centre, widely regarded as a modernist design disaster.

In 1963 the literary pack-mule was transformed into several mythical creatures as a project run by Grizedale Arts, in the Lake District, where Matt is a resident artist. Here the design classic grew a head and tail and proceeded to eat grass in Lawson Park. After discussions with the directors of the company, Matt and Ross arrived at a new use for the Penguin Donkey.

Making it their site-specific, animal answer to the jottaContemporary brief, the duo have mutated the beasts further. Wearing elephant tusks and carrying a castle, they embody changes taken place through its migration to the new south London locale. At its core, the works reference escape and altering localities, particularly relevant to the Elephant and Castle area being a home for migrants and diversity.

Instead of literature, the Penguin Donkey-Elephant is stacked inside with slabs of Kendal Mint Cake, valued by mountaineers for it’s high energy content. Was this what kept it going on the long trip down from Cumbria? We like to think it served as a tasty reward for the explorer-visitors who found their way through south London’s infamous underground maze.

Check out Matt & Ross' upcoming shows here, and the Grizedale write up on the show here.

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