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History of Matt’s Gallery
|Matt’s Gallery | A Brief History: 1979-Present | Download history as PDF|
Robin Klassnik graduated from Leicester College of Art in 1968 and moved
to London where he took up a Space studio at St Katherine’s Dock.
In this new and fertile context Klassnik found himself so affected by
the space that he was forced to reconsider his practice. He abandoned
painting and began using sculpture, 8mm film and photography. In 1971,
Klassnik moved studios to Martello Street, London Fields in East London
where he continued to work in sculpture and performance. At this time
he exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Institute
of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Paris Biennale.
Through an involvement with mail art, Klassnik met the Polish artist Jaroslaw Kozlowski and as their friendship developed Kozlowski invited him to exhibit at the alternative gallery he organised in Poznan, Akumulatory 2, in 1975. Klassnik returned to England with the desire to run a gallery along similar lines. Matt’s Gallery opened in 1979 in his studio, a gesture that did not receive total endorsement from the studio complex at the time, although the presence of galleries in locations such as this is far from unusual now.
The Gallery was named after Klassnik’s dog, Matt E. Mulsion. Artists were invited to use Klassnik’s studio to make a work for an exhibition that was open for one week.
In December 1991 the exhibition programme was suspended in order to find new premises and the funding needed for conversion.
In June 1993 Matt's Gallery reopened at its current premises in Copperfield Road, having purpose-built the site with funding from the Arts Council, England, the Henry Moore Foundation, and the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. The Copperfield Road building houses two 1,500 sq ft gallery spaces, a reading room, an office and archive area. With two gallery spaces exhibitions can now be open for periods of up to two months, with work in progress in one space whilst an exhibition runs in the other. Whilst the location and size of the gallery changed with the move to Copperfield Road, the character of the location and the exhibition policy are unchanged.
| The intention of Matt’s
Gallery was, and remains, to provide artists with the space and time to
develop new ideas and possibly new ways of working while making a new work
for the space in which it is to be exhibited. In this way it was hoped to
provide the best possible conditions for the making and exhibiting of fine
art, in particular to allow for the fine tuning for which there is often
not enough time at other galleries.
Alongside this premise is an element of collaboration between the artist and Robin Klassnik. The philosophy which informs the making and presentation of work at the gallery and its publishing programme is unique. It has been seminal to the development of attitudes towards those processes in the visual arts over the last twenty years.
Artists invited to work in the space are not necessarily well known and it is characteristic for Klassnik to take risks with little known and younger artists as well as with established artists who find the need for an open approach which they cannot find elsewhere. Many of the artists who have worked with the gallery and for whom it has provided this opportunity have been celebrated for their work and have represented their countries at major international exhibitions.
In 1993 the gallery registered as a Friendly Society, thus attaining charitable status and allowing it to receive funds from a broader range of charities and agencies. The gallery pays all costs related to the making of exhibited work. This includes the cost of all materials, catalogues, cards, publicity and advertising material and the payment of a fee to the artist. Matt’s Gallery receives revenue funding from Arts Council, England and regular funding and support from The Henry Moore Foundation and The Elephant Trust. April 2002
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