Matt Smith on his ceramics…

What is it about the Young Masters project that you are most interested in?

The context – both the spaces where the work is being shown and also the other works, both contemporary and historic that are being shown alongside the Young Masters selected pieces. I was also interested in – and delighted by – the negation of the arbritary divide between ‘fine art’ and ceramics in the call for applications.

Can you explain to us what your work is about?

I keep coming back to an unpicking and reexamination of history, particularly through objects.  This leads onto questioning and intervening in how museums selectively distill and edit the past.

Which artist/s are you most inspired by?

Fred Wilson and Glenn Ligon are both up there for their practices.  If money was no object, I could very much live with a Kiki Smith or a Laura Ford.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I worked in museums for many years, and gradually moved from curating to making.  My current practice straddles the two areas.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I was interested in the idea of permanence and how transient life is.  Watching the conservation teams at the V&A, I realised that clay was one of the most durable materials in the collection, and this chose the medium I trained in.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A force for evil.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

Queering the Museum in 2010/2011 saw me reinterpret the collections at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery through a queer lens.  It is a collection that I know well since I had been an undergraduate in Birmingham.  The chance to work with such great objects, and to take risks with their interpretation is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve been working on a PhD for the last few years at the University of Brighton, looking to how artists use craft materials when addressing identity politics.  I would like to see how this knowledge could be translated into an exhibition in the future.

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