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Matt Stokes: Matt Stokes: Madman in a Lifeboat 1 April–24 May 2015 | Offsite at Dilston Grove: Matt Stokes: Cantata Profana 27 March–26 April 2015 (Fri, Sat & Sun) | Artist’s Website

Matt Stokes | Madman in a Lifeboat | 1 April–24 May 2015 | Private View: Sunday 29 March 2–5pm

Courtesy Charlie Seber.

Press Information
Matt Stokes’ new Matt’s Gallery commission Madman in a Lifeboat is an immersive, sculptural video installation, built around the pilot episode of a faux situational comedy series.

The exhibition is based on the surreal imaginings of 74-year-old East Londoner, Charlie Seber, and investigates his life’s work developing a movement called Truth, Reality, Activism – created by Seber following an epiphany whilst working on East End building sites during the 1980’s. At the heart of TRA, or Gravatism, is a concept for the ‘reformation of all faiths’.

Presenting himself as a follower of the movement, Seber tested his concepts on unsuspecting work colleagues, authenticated by a poster of a fake Guru. Spurred by their reactions, he expanded his ideas by adding an increasingly outlandish personal back-story. This begins with him being abandoned at birth during WWII and nurtured by a family of birds. The unorthodox upbringing leads to an encounter with an intelligent mind-reading creature that enlightens him to the ‘substance of existence’, and the path to Truth, Reality, Activism. A journey that is interspersed by evangelical monologues, hymns and lighthearted marching songs.

Stokes and Seber have known each other since 2009. Madman in a Lifeboat arose from recent conversations and searching Seber’s East London home for artefacts linked to the movement, in an effort to draw together and realise aspects of his pseudo-scientific doctrines and fantastical spheres. Amongst the discoveries was a draft sit-com script; the draft has been reworked by both Stokes and Seber, and informs a central element of the exhibition. The resulting video acts as an oblique portrait of the man, by unpicking the relevance of his satirical views on modern life.

This collaboration is the starting point of a larger exploration of Seber’s dreamlike worlds and anarchic philosophies that have largely remained locked within his mind since the early 1980s.

Madman in a Lifeboat runs parallel with our presentation of Stokes’ 2010 work Cantata Profana at Dilston Grove in Southwark Park (27 March–26 April, Fri–Sun 11am–5pm). This is the second in a series of on-going co-productions between Matt’s Gallery and Dilston Grove.

Madman in a Lifeboat is the culmination of Stokes’ year-long Bartlett Fellowship residency with the University of Newcastle’s Fine Art department and at Matt's Gallery, London, supported by on-going mentorship by Matt’s Gallery director Robin Klassnik.

Matt Stokes is the first Bartlett Fellow, a new residency-based fellowship established by Fine Art at The University of Newcastle in partnership with Matt’s Gallery.

Matt Stokes is represented by Lüttgen, Cologne, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and ZieherSmith, New York.

Matt Stokes, Madman in a Lifeboat at Matt’s Gallery is generously supported by Newcastle University’s Bartlett Bequest, Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Arts Council England.

Supported by Newcastle University's Bartlett Bequest and the Newcastle Institute
for Creative Arts Practice.

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Born 1973 Penzance, Cornwall; Studied 1997 Graduated BA Hons Fine Art, Newcastle University; Lives in and works in Blaydon-on-Tyne and Newcastle upon Tyne Solo Exhibitions 2015 Madman in a Lifeboat, solo show with Matt’s Gallery, London; Objects to See Further, Great North Run Culture Artist in Residence in partnership with Tyne & Wear Museums; 2014 Stone Frigate, temporary commission with Kielder Art and Architecture (completed 2015); In Absence of the Smoky God, Site Gallery and Sensoria, Sheffield; Dance Swine Dance, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool; 2013 Give to Me the Life I Love, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne; 2012 Give to Me the Life I Love, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2011 Nuestro tiempo/Our Time, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC), Seville, Spain; Cantata Profana, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Matt Stokes, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead; The Distant Sound, De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands; 2010 No Place Else Better Than Here, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; Voice | Hand | Hammer | Fire, Works Projects, Bristol; Matt Stokes, Wilfried Lentz Gallery, Rotterdam, Netherlands 2009 Matt Stokes: these are the days, ZieherSmith, New York, USA; The Gainsborough Packet &c., Zabludowicz Collection, London; The Gainsborough Packet, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; these are the days, Arthouse, Austin, USA; 2008 Real Arcadia, Lüttgenmeijer, Berlin, Germany; 2007 Now is Early, VOID Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland; Long After Tonight, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, USA; [un]promised Land, attitudes espace d'arts contemporains, Geneva, Switzerland; Matt Stokes, ZieherSmith, New York, USA; Lost in the Rhythm, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, Ireland; 2006 Pills to Purge Melancholy, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh; Selected Group Exhibitions 2014 Metarave: It’s Only a Fantasy, WallRiss, Fribourg, Switzerland; 2013 Hope Despite The Times, ZieherSmith, New York, USA; Social Sound, VHDG Foundation, Netherlands; OD, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham; Volupté, Sextant &+, Marseille, France; 2012 Stedelijk Off-site, Stedelijk Museum/Trouw Club, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bending the Mirror, Canzani Gallery, Columbus, USA; 2011 A Fire in the Masters House is Set, Chapter, Cardiff; The Big Society, Galerie Vallois, Paris, France; Echoes, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, France; 2010 Der Diskrete Charme des Blinden Flecks, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany; Into the Light, Error One, Antwerp, Belgium; Decalogue, Winkleman Gallery, New York, USA; From Ritual to Theatre, Ancient & Modern, London; Outer Body/Inner Experiences, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, USA; Right Right Now Now, M.1/Arthur Boskamp-Stiftung, Hohenlockstedt, Germany; 2009 Northern Art Prize, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds; Running Time, Dean Gallery/National Galleries, Edinburgh; Melbourne International Festival, Melbourne, Australia; Independent State, Frome (organised by Foreground Projects); See This Sound, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria; MARZ Live, MARZ Galeria, Lisbon Portugal; Desiring Necessities, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; 2008 Single Screen, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany; Deptford X, London; Crossing, Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy; I desired what you were, I need what you are, MAZE, Turin, Italy; King Fisher's Tales, UNION, London; 2007 Balance, Galleria 1/9 Unosunove, Rome, Italy; Palinsesti, San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy; The Weasel: Pop Music and Contemporary Art, South London Gallery, London; Projection Project II, Mücsarnok-Kunsthalle, Budapest, Hungary; Screenings, Ocho Y Medio, Quito and Maac Cine, Guayaquil, Ecuador; 2006 The Projection Project, MuHKA, Antwerp, Belgium; Street: behind the cliché, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands; EAST International 06, Norwich Gallery and NSAD, Norwich; Beck’s Futures, ICA, London and off-site venues in Glasgow and Bristol; You Shall Know Our Velocity, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; 2005 Our Surroundings, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee; Gatsobyter, Plan 9 Artists Space, Bristol; Romantic Detachment, PS1 MOMA, New York, USA and Chapter Gallery, Cardiff; 2004 QSL, FM radio station, MIMA (off-site), Middlesbrough; S1 Salon ‘Cabaret’, S1 Art Space, Sheffield; 2003 Space Between Us, Friar House, Newcastle upon Tyne; Vacant, Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland; Spark Video International, Spark Art Space, Syracuse, USA and Forest City Gallery, Ontario, Canada; LUX Open, Royal College of Art, London; 2002 Living Proof, Bewick Court, Newcastle upon Tyne; Memento, Underground stations on the Tyne and Wear Metro system; VideoROM, Gian Carla Zanutti Gallery, Milan and Gallery of Modern Art, Bergamo, Italy; Mostyn 12 Open, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno; 2001 VideoROM, Valencia Biennial, Spain; 2000 ROOT, Hull Time Based Arts, Hull; VANE, ‘00 off-site venue, Newcastle upon Tyne; NOW Festival, off-site venue, Nottingham; 1999 VANE Export, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; Field, Hallington, Northumberland; 1998 VANE ‘98, Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne; Selected Commissions, Fellowships and Residencies 2013-14 Bartlett Fellowship, Newcastle University and Matt’s Gallery, London; 2010 The Stratford Gaff, Art on the Underground, Stratford Station, London; 2006 socialspaces, commissioned by the BBC and Arts Council England; Limited edition CD of Sacred Selections, commissioned by Locus+, Newcastle upon Tyne; 2002 Grizedale Arts R&D grant, followed by a residency in Cumbria; Land and the Samling, residency at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland; 2001 Stretch, video installation commissioned by Sunderland Arts; Allotment, residency at allotments in Wallsend; 2000 Roll-in’ Along, video intervention commissioned by Work & Leisure International, Manchester; Selected Prizes, Shortlists and Awards 2012 Shortlisted for Jaman Award, awarded by Film London; 2009 Shortlisted for Northern Art Prize, awarded by Leeds City Art Gallery; 2006 Beck’s Futures, prize awarded by the ICA and Beck’s; 2003 Art for Architecture, awarded by Royal Society of Arts.

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2014 In Absence of the Smoky God, published by NATCECT. ISBN: 978-0-907426-28-8; 2011 Song as a Force of Social Transformation, published by CAAC. ISSN: 2173-8203; 2009 these are the days, (monograph) published by Arthouse. ISBN: 0-9770627-2-4; The Gainsborough Packet &c., (monograph) published by Zabludowicz Collection. ISBN: 978-0-9556629-5-9; See This Sound, published by Lentos Kunst Museum. ISBN: 978-3-86560-683-9; Collective 1984-2009, published by Collective Gallery. ISBN: 978-3-86896-0335; 2008 Hijack Reality, published by Deptford X. ISBN: 978-0-9547071-2-5; 2007 Lost in the Rhythm, (monograph) published by AEN and Collective Gallery. ISBN: 978-1-873757-56-7; 2006 Beck’s Futures 2006, published by the ICA. ISBN: 1-900300-50-8; EAST International 2006, published by Norwich Gallery. ISBN: 1-872482-80-5.

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