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Matthew Houlding - Avon Primary School

As part of the Primary/Bristol series of art commissions, artist Matthew Houlding will develop an art work for Avon primary School, Shirehampton, Bristol.

Matthew Houlding embraces the idea of the Artist as Craftsman, dedicated to the synthesis of sculpture, architecture and painting. His practice engages with the idea that art is capable of offering new ideas and solutions in the pursuit of a brighter future. Houlding’s sculptures offer a sense of energetic fragility, a sense of balance, certainty and security. The work conveys the idea of the constructed environment: architecture of place where the layering of images and materials produce ideas and structures that simultaneously evoke a history and a memory of time gone by, with the loaded potential of imagination and the pursuit of a new future. Houlding’s constructions are as much about the inventing of place as they are about the invention of places, where bespoke environments are meticulously built and manicured to fulfill an idealistic pursuit of the perfect place.

For Avon Primary, Houlding will create work for one of the schools main corridor spaces in the older part of Avon Primary. His aim is to create a new mood and a new rhythm that works with the length of this space, creating something that is both visually stimulating and functional.  Employing tables, storage and seating solutions the modular artwork will fill the space. Coloured Perspex panels will feature in the work, which will react with the external light, creating a tropical glow and environment that is engaging, uplifting and positive. The mood intensity will constantly change with the light intensity from outside. Houlding’s work will add a regulated and modern feel as well as fulfilling the needs of storage, seating and table space for pupils to use and work in bringing together architecture, design and sculpture.

This commission is funded by Bristol City Council and is due for completion in 2014.


Matthew Houlding

Matthew Houlding's sculptures and collages draw us into a fantastic, retro-futuristic world, inspired by architectural forms and models, modernism and a childhood spent in East Africa. Houlding's recent sculptures and collages are a homage to the utopian zeal of modern architecture. Drawing on Structuralist and Formalist ideas of architectural design and the relationships between intersecting materials and planes, contrasting geometry is framed by bold, primary coloured Perspex, which casts a Californian sunny glow over split level condo-like exteriors and interiors. This juxtaposition of materials - from cardboard boxes to garden fencing and kitchen work tops - suggest human prescience and endeavour, reflecting the experience of architecture and space; hierarchy, opposition, separation, connection, transition and assimilation. The composition of colours and painted surfaces define figure/ground relationships within the work and convey materiality, physical and cultural context, symbolism and emotional response. Houlding's landscapes are, however, people free, yet suggest an inherent optimism and sublime future.

Matthew Houlding was born in Keighly, 1966. He lives and works in Todmorden, UK. Solo exhibitions include 'Under the Black Sun of Joy', ICIA, Bath, 2013; 'The Oceanic', Ceri Hand Gallery, London 2013; 'More Places to Get Away From It All', Touchstones Rochdale, 2012; 'The Chemosphere', New Art Gallery Walsall, 2010; 'Sons of Pioneers', Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool and The De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill on Sea, 2009. Group exhibitions include 'Art Across the City', LOWCS International, , Swansea, UK, 2013; 'Beautiful Things', The Next Door Project, Liverpool, UK, 2013; 'The Utopian Buck Stops Here', Bureau Gallery, Manchester, UK. 2013; 'Zombie Modernism', Malgras Naudet, Manchester, 2012; 'The End of the Future', Transition Gallery, London, 2012; 'A Private Affair', Harris Museum, Preston, 2012; 'Salon Art Prize', Matt Roberts Gallery, London, 2011; 'In Wonder', Vermilion, Manchester, 2011; 'Scheinbar Sein. Faktisches und Virtuelles. Universitatssammlungen. Kunst & Technic', Altana Gallery, Dresden, Germany, 2011; 'Urban Origami' Pumphouse Gallery, London, 2010 and 'Take Shape –Make Shift // Pendre Forme – Provisoire', Les Instants Chavires, Paris, 2010.

Avon Primary

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Avon Primary is tucked away from the bustle of Shirehampton on Barracks Lane and provides a quiet, safe environment for learning. The grounds are spacious, with an extensive playing field, separate infant and junior playgrounds and a secure outdoor learning area for Reception children. The class rooms are bright and there are generous work spaces between the rooms for groups to use. Avon Primary School takes pride in the relationships they build with their pupils and the mutual respect between pupils and staff resulting in a positive, caring and welcoming school.

This commission is part of a series of public art commissions curated and managed by Arnolfini for Primary/Bristol; a Bristol City Council and LEP,(Local Educational Partnership) initiative designed to transform aging primary schools across England into state-of-the-art learning environments over the next 15 years. More information on Arnolfini’s involvement here.