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Matt Calderwood, Untitled (Kettle's Yard), mixed media, 2009

Material Intelligence

16 May - 12 July 2009

An exhibition that brought together eight contemporary artists who use materials in intuitive and inventive ways.

This event has passed. FREE, come along

Their materials came from the world around us; from fresh-cut straw to face cream. Each artist’s approach was different. Shirley Tse’s poetic objects exploited the qualities of plastic. Ian Kiaer created small worlds from blocks of polystyrene, rubber, plastic bowls and soiled cardboard boxes. Tony Feher’s elegant installations drew out the sculptural forms, startling colours and luminous qualities of everyday objects, from drinks bottles to map pins. Karla Black exploited the scents, colours, textures and physical properties of products such as fake-tan and cellophane. She handled them with a forcefulness that often carried an emotional charge. For ‘Suspended Fall’, Martin Boyce cut up classic chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1955 to make a melancholy mobile that deliberately echoed the iconic mobiles of Alexander Calder, dating from the same era.

Their methods were often as unusual as the materials. Matt Calderwood set up precarious experiments with common objects from wine glasses to lemons; Claire Barclay drew on traditional techniques such as wood turning or throwing pots. Wade Guyton forced canvas through inkjet printers to create surprisingly sensuous paintings.

New work was specially made for the exhibition by Karla Black, Claire Barclay, Matt Calderwood, Tony Feher and Ian Kiaer, and Shirley Tse. None of the artists had exhibited in Cambridge before and it was the UK premiere of works by Tse.


Claire Barclay ~ Karla Black ~ Martin Boyce ~ Matt Calderwood ~ Tony Feher ~ Wade Guyton ~ Ian Kiaer ~ Shirley Tse

Symposium: ‘On not knowing: how artists think’

This one-day symposium looked at the role of ‘not knowing’ within the creative process. The day examined how artists formulate strategies of not knowing and use the states of ignorance, doubt, block and failure within their decision making process. The state of ‘not knowing’ was also clearly acknowledged as an important aspect of all research, and speakers from across disciplines joined visual artists to debate these issues from a number of perspectives. The symposium was accompanied by an illustrated book.

Organised by Rebecca Fortnum in collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, the Visual Intelligences project at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University and How Art Thinks research project at the International Centre for Fine Art Research at the University of the Arts, London.

You can find the programme here.