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Annie Whiles: The Listening Thing 24 September–31 October 2020

Annie Whiles | The Listening Thing | 24 September–31 October 2020, Thur–Sat 12–6pm, by appointment. | 92 Webster Road, London, SE16 4DF

Annie Whiles, The Listening Thing, 2020, detail.  Lime wood, oil paint and glass eyes, 196 x 73 x 39 cm. Image by Jonathan Bassett. Courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London.

Press Information
“Until recently, I thought the moon was doing the shining. From within. Emanating.

Quite recently, I read that the length of time required for a signal to travel across the vastness of space, means that any signal detected would come from the distant past. I took this to mean that if we were receiving messages from another planet, they were still landing in our past. It actually meant the other planet's past but it had already sent me where I needed to go to fetch the Listening Thing.”

Matt’s Gallery is delighted to reopen with Annie Whiles’ The Listening Thing, a new work commissioned especially for our 3x3x3 metre cubic gallery space at 92 Webster Road.

Whiles makes woodcarvings, drawings and embroideries from a collection of personal icons, gathered from encounters or confusions she has experienced. The images, photographs and objects gather in her studio and may lay dormant for several years until the right time. The artist likens these icons to messages or signals, mediating between different worlds.

Whiles describes the process of carving as “a means to an end to see a wooden object or device in a room,” likening the process to archaeology, engaging with a material both dead and alive. Surfaces are then painted to divert attention from the wood itself. The work acts as a test or a probe, travelling without moving, possibly exceeding its material conditions but unable to escape its own comedy.

For Matt’s Gallery’s cubic gallery space she has undertaken a carving that strays from the naturalistic 1:1 scale common to her practice. The Listening Thing arose from an invitation to create something for this space. In it coalesce an image that Whiles had for some years around the studio, a helpful misunderstanding about astronomical matters, and some rumination on the 'Wow! Signal' - an apparent extra-terrestrial broadcast, received on August 15th 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope.

The Listening Thing is accompanied by Q4, the fourth instalment in our ongoing series of artist interviews.

Click here to read Q4.

Booking your visit

Please click here to book a fifteen-minute time slot.

To ensure the safety of our visitors, artists & staff, visitors to the gallery will be required to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt from doing so. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one free of charge. We also ask that visitors clean their hands using the sanitiser provided when entering the gallery. Please stay at home if you are feeling unwell.

When making a booking, please note that the maximum capacity of the gallery is four people from the same household or support bubble.

We regret that there are currently no toilet facilities at the gallery.

For further information or visual material please contact us on 020 7237 0398 or email For same-day bookings, please call the gallery.

Matt’s Gallery thanks the Arts Council England and Ron Henocq Fine Art for their generous support.

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