Selfridges Art Block: Matthew Derbyshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) and Selfridges are going to present a new commission by British artist Matthew Darbyshire for the London store’s Art Block.

Renaissance City - Matthew Darbyshire - Very Big Shed, Suffolk
Renaissance City – Matthew Darbyshire – Very Big Shed, Suffolk

Darbyshire, the Art Block’s second resident artist, has created three figurative works that play with, subvert and interrogate familiar classical symbols. Observing that many worldwide brands derive from classical deities, Darbyshire has reinterpreted the traditional statuary of Nike, Hermes and Mars using the layering method typically seen in digital printing.

Darbyshire said:

“I had a bit of a breakthrough whilst walking around the Selfridges store and suddenly realising the similarity between shopping emporium and museum layouts. Then I thought back further and realised that Roman and Greek temples informed the cathedral which informed the museum and the museum informed the mall – so, if shopping is the new religion, the brands are the new icons that, regardless of faith, race or creed, unify us all. I then realised we’d come full circle and that the main brands today, in fact, derive from the classical deities first shown in ancient temples, then in cathedrals, museums, and now in the ultimate secular temple – the store!”

The works deliberately resemble the output of 3D printing, however, they have been traditionally crafted using scales and materials not yet possible in 3D printing technology. Retaining all the tell-tale layering and plasticity of a 3D print, the three-metre-tall sculptures adopt classical, monumental scale. Through his own synthetic stone finishes, Darbyshire alludes to the traditional use of marble, and its contemporary equivalent of marble-effect filaments used in 3D printing, whilst also subtly referencing the brands that inform his deities by adopting their various associated colour schemes.
Darbyshire’s installation extends his research into the impact of digital processes upon sculpture, the potency of the mediated form and the lingering cultural importance of the classical.

The Art Block is Selfridges’ permanent destination for contemporary sculpture, presenting a series of six-month long residencies, showing newly commissioned artworks in captivating and unexpected ways. It is curated in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Head of Curatorial Programme, Helen Pheby.
Darbyshire’s installation follows London-based British artist Holly Hendry’s inaugural site-specific sculpture Phyllis. At nearly 4-metres tall, Phyllis was named after one of the Cross Rail digging machines which embedded itself so far under London that it could not be retrieved. Using spoil from the rebuilding of Selfridges’ Duke Street entrance it referenced humanity’s impact on the materials and resources of the world.

Matthew Darbyshire Selfridges Art Block from 2 October 2018 until April 2019 selfridges.com/art-block

Selfridges Art Block –
The Art Block is a marble and steel monolith designed by David Chipperfield as part of his commission to create Selfridges’ new Accessories Hall, the world’s largest destination for luxury handbags and accessories. The Art Block – situated right in the middle of the newly refurbished and extended Accessories Hall, has been designed to showcase large pieces of contemporary art that can weigh up to 3.5 tonnes and measure well over 4 metres in height, thanks to the very high ceilings within the space. The Art Block will present two new residencies every year (of six months each), curated by Helen Pheby.

About The Artist
Matthew Darbyshire – Matthew Darbyshire was born in Cambridge in 1977 and now lives and works in London. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2000 and the Royal Academy Schools in 2005. He has had solo public exhibitions at Gasworks, London; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Outpost, Norwich; Taro Nasu, Tokyo; Tramway, Glasgow; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield; Lisa Cooley, New York; Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; Herald St, London; Nottingham Castle, Nottingham; and Jousse Entreprise, Paris.

Helen Pheby – Helen Pheby PhD is an international curator and Head of Curatorial Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. She is a recognised specialist in cultural inclusion and impact and an authority on art beyond the institution. Her PhD thesis considered controversial public art as a means to better understand the place of art in life and she has worked with international partners to co-curate off-site projects including the Kyiv Sculpture Project (2012) and A Place in Time (2016)
at NIROX Sculpture Foundation in the UNESCO Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, pioneering an appreciation of contemporary practices alongside artefacts. Dr Pheby’s YSP projects include Katrina Palmer: The Coffin Jump (2018) a co-commission with 14-18 NOW; Occasional Geometries: Rana Begum Curates the Arts Council Collection (2017); and Fiona Banner: Wp Wp Wp (2014). She initiated YSP’s programme of process-led and open-ended practice including Graduate Awards with Ayesha Tan Jones and Marco Miehling. She has extended the organisation’s platform for artists to new territories and areas of conflict, such as Art by Email (2016) for practitioners with very limited travel opportunities.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper'