re:place Site-specific contemporary art in Derbyshire: Tibshelf Services, M1

From 15 April 2011 onwards

Matthew's practice seeks to question how we think about nature, exploring how our ideas of landscape and the rural are mediated through the lens of mass culture. His work has appropriated images from advertising, maps, postcards, tourist brochures and food packaging. These images, however cartoon like or unreal they may appear, inform how we experience the world; the representations become a part of how we experience the reality. The project that he proposed for re:place uses the postcard - a memento of a particular place - to depict the generic environment of the motorway.

He has created a set of postcards of the signage from the M1 motorway. The signs have been photographed and hand coloured with inks and made into postcards, referencing the Victorian postcard from a period at the inception of mass-tourism, and the hyper-real appearance of the hand coloured images reflects the unreality of the motorway environment.

The work is a record of a journey through the country in the manner of those taken by Daniel Defoe or William Cobbett; the M1 runs up through the heart of the country and there is a sense in which it is a device for viewing the landscape of England.

Matthew thinks that the aesthetic potential of the view from the motorway is overlooked in favour of more worthy subjects - the wild landscapes of national parks or the bucolic rolling hills of the rural landscape - but the view from the hard shoulder seems to him to be a more authentic one. The verge and scrub at the edge of the motorway offers a rich environment for nature, providing important migratory corridors as well as respite from the monocultural agricultural land that often surrounds it.

“The driver's relationship to place while travelling through the non-place of the motorway is completely detached, the journey does literally become about getting from A to B or in this instance from junction 1 to junction 38. Instead of the journey being a series of distinct places passed through places are reduced to junction numbers or abbreviated (P’brough), the signs mediate the experience of place. The service station is an extension of the non-place of the motorway environment. It is a generic utilitarian environment where you can expect to see the same chains of shops and eateries in an environment devoid of particularity. This will be the perfect site in which to display and distribute the postcards. The viewer of the work will be able to take away a postcard with them, thereby widely dispersing these images around the country as each person takes away a strange memento of their own journey."

The postcards are free for members of the public to take on North and South sides of Tibshelf services between junctions 28 & 29.

Commissioned by re:place - site specific contemporary art in Derbyshire; click here for project information.