A Glimmer of Light &
A Parting Presence
Matthew Coll | Artist | Co. Dublin, Ireland
During my school days, public transport got me from A to be and from B to C. And then back to A again… with boney knees full of grass stains and a school bag full of crumbs and homework. All I needed was about €2.50 and a friendly bus driver, which was often the case. Why are bus drivers always so sound? Perhaps I’ll do a feature on that next. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah… The reason for my talkative meandering lies in the beautiful nostalgia I have for my upbringing throughout Dublin found within the latest body of work produced by the artist, Matthew Coll.
Matthew Coll is a 25-year-old artist from Dublin and a recent graduate from NCAD where he studied Fine Art Printing. Brought up around Drumcondra and being based in Howth makes it is fitting that the artist is deeply in touch with the uncommonly exhibited beauty of the city and its public transport.
I can somewhat understand the work of the artist in my own unique way. What is truly more beautiful than seeing those luminescent orange lights becoming more visible with every roll of the tyre coming towards you, only for it to arrive and be the bus you’ve been waiting on in the worst of the winter weather. Your bus. It’s poetic … and the artist beautifully exhibits this nostalgia throughout this wide body of work.
Matthew’s exhibition was held in a stunning space and truly showcased the talent, magic and nostalgia within his work, we spoke with Matthew to discover the artist behind the art. You can read Matthew’s interview below!
The artist behind the art.
What does being an artist mean to you?
I am not sure what being an artist means. But I think making art is a way for me to process and understand the world around me and potentially communicate something back to the world.
What events led to becoming an artist?
I guess I’ve just been making or drawing things for as long as I remember. I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by people who’ve always encouraged me like my parents, friends, art teachers etc. Although I never really saw art as a potential career for most of my life. The career guidance counsellor at school kinda scared me away from art and I ended up studying Architectural Technology at DIT after school. Halfway through the year, I realised I wasn’t enjoying it at all and dropped out. Next year I did a portfolio course and applied for NCAD and luckily got in. I’ve had such a great time in art college and since then I’ve just been enjoying making things.
Where do you find inspiration?
Dublin has been a big influence on me and it’s where a lot of my work stems from at the moment. I also just kinda make stuff purely for my mental health, I can get pretty down if I haven’t made anything for a while and I often feel my happiest when I’m making things. A lot of the time, making work will often trigger the creation of new work or a new idea will pop in my head throughout the day or when I’m out walking.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of electronic music when I’m painting lately, like Burial, Four Tet, Floating Points, Mount Kimbie, Leon Vynehall and Andy Stott . I find music helps me get into the flow of making work.
Describe your artistic style and your most recent body of work.
My most recent body of work was “A Glimmer of Light & A Parting Presence”. A key area of interest in this work was the experience of “being” within the modern world and contemporary Dublin with a particular focus on public transport. I see public transport as an everyday space that embodies much of the world around us. Concurrently a very individual and internal space, a space of calmness and reflection, where people are capable of shutting out the external world. Whilst also being a space of hyper-connection, where the paths of countless people overlap. A potentially stressful and crowded space, a concentration of today’s constantly connected world. I’m interested in this duality, the calm in contrast to the hectic and excessive nature of the everyday and mundane.
In my work, I try to capture these experiences. Photographs taken throughout my day are used to create the compositions for my paintings. Through the process of painting obscuring the image, letting chance and spontaneity dictate the process, submerging, dragging and pouring paint across the surface and sometimes reconfiguring the paintings structurally. My hope for the work is to embody the lack of control we have in life and to convey a sense of fading memories or fleeting moments. The paintings then further guide the creation of the installations and sculptures in the surrounding space, which I hope will further immerse the viewer in the work.
Who / what influences you?
Mostly other artists around Ireland, there’s so much great art being made at the moment and really it’s inspiring to see. I’m definitely forgetting a few but some of my favourite Irish artists
at the minute are Stephen Burke, Niamh O’Malley, Elizabeth Magill, Cian McLoughlin & Neil Carroll. The latter of whom I was really lucky to have as my tutor for my final year of college. Neil had a big influence on me over the year, I was a big fan of his work before he starte
What do you aim for your audience to feel when viewing your work?
I hope it makes people contemplate their relationship with the world in some way.
Plans for the future?
I’m currently learning to drive at the minute. Artwise I just plan to keep making new work and seeing lots of art. So we’ll see where the wind takes me.
As always, there is more to explore in the void!