An interview with Matt Bray and Wendy Daws

Close up photograph of a latex art exhibition
Photo credit Matilda Flood

On March 10, Matt Bray and Wendy Daws hosted their Live Making event at No.34. Afterwards, Ideas Test invited Matt and Wendy to talk a little more about their collaborative exhibition, Material Conversations. You can hear more from Matt and Wendy by coming along on March 24 to Meet the Artists, from 1pm – 3pm.

Has creating the work for this exhibition inspired you to develop any future collaborations?

Wendy Daws: Yes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole process; I didn’t have any preconceptions, just knowledge of the materials. I know what I can do with some of the materials because I’ve worked with them before but I didn’t know what Matt could do with the materials, so that’s been really interesting. It’s like looking at a subject all over again and sharing it. Definitely be up for more.

Matt Bray: Yeah I’m sure we’ll work together again.

What do you hope people will take from visiting your exhibition at No.34?

Matt: Hopefully they’ll see drawing in a different light. It was interesting for us to explore drawing as an object – like creating a 3D object from drawing. So hopefully that’ll be interesting for people who hadn’t thought about the different things that drawing can do.

What does the element of live making contribute to the process of the collaboration?

Wendy: For me today, it was sharing the process, sharing our recipe, and therefore an understanding.

Matt: It was so much easier. This process, this live making, has let people really go ‘Oh, I see what you’re trying to explain’. So it’s given them an insight into the piece of work itself. You might look at the piece of work and think, ‘I really like that, that’s really interesting, really beautiful’, but then when you see how it’s made, it gives you a deeper insight into what it is you’re looking at.

Wendy: If you say that you’re drawing with a glue gun the response is ‘What?!’ Surely glue guns are for sticking things together, but you can do so much more…

Has creating work for this exhibition changed your relationship with collaboration in any way?

Matt: I had never collaborated before last year and my practice has always been painting and drawing. I wanted to do sculpture but didn’t know how to start. I’ve wanted to do it for years but just couldn’t find the way in, so thought maybe collaboration. So I collaborated with two people and Wendy is this third collaboration I’ve tried and all three of them, it’s been really beneficial in other ways. It introduces me to new techniques because this process is from Wendy’s practice. It’s something she discovered while she was doing her degree so I’ve been able to explore that technique and that medium. As an artist it’s very difficult not to be self critical and whilst you’re making it, there’s this real self doubt and almost self loathing for me particular when I’m making something. I find it really difficult to like the things I’m making. Whereas collaboration gives me enough distance that I can be really enthusiastic about the work that’s happening, so that’s something I’ve enjoyed a lot.

Wendy: We’re very different people and we do work at different speeds so for me to work with Matt, I feel like I’ve been on a retreat. (I’m just drawing my hands out to show how smooth and calm I feel about the whole process). It’s the process that I love, I do seem to do everything at a thousand miles an hour then maybe don’t enjoy the final piece. So now this [their exhibition] carries on living because it’s going to be in situ for two months, and because of the materials used, will change in time. There was the something special about the speed in which we work and how we’ve met somewhere in the middle.  Haven’t we?

Matt: We were talking the other day about it and we both worked to each other’s timetables in slightly different ways. Wendy’s a lot busier than I am, she often has a number of different projects on the boil at one time so the timetable of the project really had to be on Wendy’s time, which meant that the work was made right up until the last day when it was to come in, which isn’t how I’m used to working at all. I work months in advance, I would have the whole thing finished and be safe in the knowledge that’s all done, and then leave it for months but I’d know it was done. Wendy doesn’t work like that because she’s got so many things on the boil, it’s like right up to the last day. So the timetable of the whole project was on “Wendy Time” but then each session we did was on “Matt Time”, which is slow.

Wendy: I loved it, fantastic!

Matt: I’m a very slow, chilled sort of person with my work.

Wendy: The drawing sessions were in Matt’s studio with Beethoven playing in the background, or Debussy, and just beautiful. Whole experience, beautiful.

For even more conversations with Matt and Wendy, you can listen to the artists discussing the process behind this collaboration on Soundcloud.