Melanie Jackson, soil & seawater, 1999. Installation view courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Melanie Jackson, soil & seawater, 1999. Installation view courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.

Melanie Jackson, soil & seawater, 1999. Installation view courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery.

Melanie Jackson

Soil & seawater

28 – 29 November 1999

Copperfield Road

This exhibition consists of three video works which draw on ‘found’ footage and text, made during her time as River Rhymney Fellow in Cardiff. Jackson collected, shot and manipulated a diverse collection of film clips that included casinos, mountains and ships at sea. To find this footage she emailed requests to all the local newspapers for coastal regions in the UK asking their readers to contact her with their films or photographs. She received a number of extraordinary replies including a video of two hours of film footage shot by a merchant seaman from the deck of a boat over a 20 year period as he circumnavigated the globe.

Jackson also collected a series of newspaper articles relating to strange happenings and uncanny events. The images and the texts are merged to create strange stories both real and mythic, that resonate on both a personal and collective level. The works are recorded on video which is silent and captioned, separating images from words. Ian Hunt has written the text for the accompanying publication documenting these works which will be launched this weekend. Commissioned by Cardiff Bay Arts Trust and published by Matt’s Gallery.


1999 is the Twentieth anniversary year of the opening of Matt’s Gallery. This is an exceptional time for the gallery and to celebrate its continued commitment to commissioning new work from artists specifically for it’s spaces the gallery is mounting an archive exhibition with a difference, simultaneously looking back into it’s past and forward into the twentieth year and beyond.

Simultaneously using all the gallery’s spaces BACKSPACE provides a unique opportunity for visitors to investigate the gallery’s history, philosophy and artists in depth. The exhibition will present archival objects and documents, film and video of exhibitions and their making, slide projections, audio and text on twenty years of producing new work with 44 artists including David Troostwyk, Joel Fisher, Jaroslaw Kozolowski, Robin Klassnik & tom Clark, Susan Hiller, Jeff Instone, Michael Porter, John Blake, Tony Bevan, Tomasz Osinski, Robert Janz, Amikam Toren, Gerald Newman, Avis Newman, Nat Goodden, sue Arrowsmith, Ian Mckeever, Nan Hoover, Gerard Hemsworth, Anthony Wilson, Imants Tillers, Rose finn-Kelcey, Richard Wilson, Ian Breakwell, Hanna Luczak, Hannah collins, Brian Catling, Kate Smith, Jimmie Durham. Edgar Heap of Birds, Melanie Counsell, Willie Doherty, Thomas Holley, Mel Jackson, Matthew Tickle, Mike Nelson, John Frankland, Xenia K. Dieroff, Lucy Gunning, Sean Dower, Juan Cruz, Graham Fagen. The presentations will provide the exhibition with a formal structure but all elements will be open to change – the films being shown, the slides for projection, the objects on display-creating a fluid, dynamic process of sampling the past that will stimulate the viewer to return again and again.

Going beyond more standard documentary methods, the presentation  of the historical material in BACKSPACE will be fused with artworks, both interspersed within the archival display and presented under gallery conditions. One of Matt’s Gallery’s two gallery spaces will be kept for the presentation of new work throughout the duration of BACKSPACE, presenting a programme of new art which will change weekly and feature numerous artists associated with the gallery. There will also be documentary presentations on the alternative space established by the Polish artist Jaroslaw Kozolowski in Poznan, Galerie Akumulatory 2, which was the instrumental influence in the establishment of Matt’s Gallery.

The archival process will be active during the exhibition, with new material being added to the displays as it is uncovered. This physical process, and the critical debates generated by the exhibition, will form the backbone of the production of material for a publication investigating twenty years of Matt’s Gallery and the hopes to publish in 1999.

BACKSPACE promises to be a unique experience, mixing opportunities to view the history of the gallery, to experience the hidden workings of the gallery and of artists, see both new work and work from the past and participate in the critical debate on the role of galleries and the changing nature of contemporary art.