An artist’s take on the insularity of modern times

Matt Gale, an emerging artist supported by the RBSA Next Wave scheme, gave ART BLOG the lowdown on his decision to pursue a creative career, his scientific background and his work in the forthcoming NWA showcase which references the year he decided to come out as gay…

How did you become an artist?

I’ve always made things – birthday and Christmas gifts as a child were generally Plasticine/clay and animal books. I had little interest in cars, trains or footballs, which inevitably got covered in clay and changed into something else if someone did buy them for me. I continued making things into adulthood, generally to destress after teaching. It took me a long time to recognise that the things I made were art and even longer to get the confidence to show my work.

What is the story behind the artwork you have on display in the Next Wave showcase?

1987 relates to recurring cycles, whether that’s something organic being absorbed and repurposed by fungi, or periods in our history where our society becomes more insular, looking for a group of people to identify as ‘other’ or foreign – in any case, unwelcome.

The title refers to my 18th year, the point where I felt brave enough to come out as gay. I was living in Southern California at the time and this was when HIV was in the news although there was very little information available about transmission and people were very scared. Civil rights seemed likely to regress 20 years as a result. Politically, we appear to be in another period of looking for someone to blame.


What inspires you?

My background was originally in biological science. I’m still very interested in scientific research, but also fascinated by how that is translated to our culture. I guess as an artist you tend to look for patterns, contradictions and cultural impact/understanding in whatever subject already interests you.

How do you make your work?

This varies a lot. Materials fascinate me and I am always looking for something new to experiment with or different ways to approach a conventional material. The process of making usually runs parallel to conceptual development and something I’m ‘playing with’ will seem an ideal way of articulating a particular idea.

I’ve been making quite a lot of bio-plastic at the moment – it’s basically cooking and the results are weird and often unexpected which always pleases me.

What else are you working on at the moment?

I’m a member of STEAMhouse, which has been a great way of accessing a metal workshop and welding again. I am also currently on an extended residency at Stryx Gallery, which involves workshops, three group shows that coincide with Digbeth First Friday, followed by a solo show at Asylum Gallery in Wolverhampton.

Instagram @matthew.r.gale

Twitter @MatthewRGale



Solo show, Asylum Gallery, Wolverhampton, May 2019 Blender 3 (Soup V), Stryx Gallery, Birmingham, April 2019 AIR show, Vittoria Street Gallery, BSJ, April – May 2019 Next Wave Associate Showcase, RBSA, March – May 2019 Blender 2 (Soup V), Stryx Gallery, Birmingham, March 2019 Blender 1 (Soup V), Stryx Gallery, Birmingham, February 2019 Queer Art(ists) Now, Archive Gallery, Rose Lipman Building, London, October 2018 Swop Shop, Selfridge’s Birmingham, September 2018 Next Wave, RBSA, Birmingham, September 2018 ESP Show Your Stuff, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, August 2018 Swop Shop, Tate Liverpool, June 2018 Transitions, Vittoria Street Gallery, BSJ, 23 April – 10 May 2018 Coventry Biennial, CET Building, 6-22 October 2017 AIR Showcase, Vittoria Street Gallery, BSJ, October 2017 Fluid Festival, Birmingham, 23-24 September 2017 Margaret, MA Degree show, Birmingham School of Art, 1-7 September 2017Regeneration, Artist Workhouse, Warwickshire, June 2017 PULPA III exhibition, RK Burt Gallery, London, April 2017 CHAS exhibition at Moseley Exchange, Birmingham, August 2016 Objects of Inspiration, In-Public, Birmingham, May 2016 Art Week Exeter, Preston Street Union, Exeter, May 2016 Beyond Borders/GAP Arts Project exhibition, April 2016 #mysophobia (installation), P Cafe, Birmingham, November 2015 Cannon Hill Art School exhibition, mac birmingham, July 2015 Open All Media exhibition, RBSA, Birmingham, February 2015


Blender residency, Stryx Gallery, Birmingham, February – April 2019 Summer Lodge residency, Nottingham Trent University, July 2018 STEAMhouse, Birmingham, June 2018 – present Birmingham Crit Group, co-organiser, February 2018 – present. Artist in Residence, Birmingham School of Jewellery, MA Programme, 2017/18 Visiting Artist, STEAM project (Birmingham Open Media) 2017/18 Grasslands residency, Birmingham, June 2016 Micro residency, Chisenhale Studios, London, May 2016 Artist Lab (Simon Poulter), mac birmingham/TPWM/New Art Gallery Walsall, March 2016 Work in Progress II, Grand Union Gallery, Birmingham, January 2016 Grasslands residency, Birmingham, November 2015


Engine Bursary, NAWM 2018 Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest MA Exhibition prize 2017 A-N Professional Development Grant 2017


MA Fine Art (Distinction) – 2017 BIAD, School of Art, Birmingham City University PGCE (Advanced) Early Years – 2005 The University of Birmingham BSc. Hons Zoology – 1996 The University of Nottingham

#artinbirmingham #comingout #emergingartist #gayrights

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