Local Artist Matt Pilkington

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Matt Pilkington, the Artist in Residence at Backtrack, tells Focus about his background and his future plans …

Welcome to FOCUS, Matt. Tell us about your experience and training.
I finished my degree in Fine Art in 2000, I’ve done solo exhibitions every year since and have done many group exhibitions – NERAM, ESPY – in the recent years. I was the President of the New England Art Society for more than three years. I was also a finalist in the Country Energy Art Awards 2005, displayed in Parliament House.

Tell us about your progression through your many years in the art world.
As many artists start, I’ve focused my efforts in paint and have progressed throughout the years to find my creative styling in assemblage – using old pieces of wood, steel or whatever I could get my hands on to disassemble and then reassemble in the artwork which I now create, as shown above in this artwork of the bull. This piece, in particular, uses many pieces of plywood sliced to form an artwork.
I have made the almost natural progression from assemblage to now anything sculptural, whether it’s wood, scrap metal – basically, if it’s mouldable into some form of artwork, I’ll work with it.

Tell us about your studio …
I seem to have an unbridled love for all things art, with racks of artworks hanging everywhere in my studio to the now, hand crafted hooks and coat hangers, sculpture, even pop art and everything in between.

You live and breathe your passion of anything artistic. Who/what are you influenced by?
I mentioned that I don’t have direct influences so much; I create my own ideas and think outside the box. If I see a scrap piece of metal, I think to myself, “What could that be used for? Would it make a good part of a body or a head? How could I use it?” These days everything is new, but what happens to it after it breaks or is no longer of any use to us? My answer is art.

These days your artistic knowledge has taken you full circle, from a young student at university to now being a teacher of art, sculpture and all things hands on at Backtrack. Tell us about this great work you are now doing?
For those who are unaware, Backtrack is an Armidale based project which offers young people who have lost their way the opportunity to re-connect with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community. I have been the Artist in Residence at Backtrack for the last four plus years, and I get to help the guys and girls at Backtrack let out their creative side. I’m now working magic in sculpture – eyes always open for what may look like just a piece of scrap metal, which could be a vital part of my next sculpture.

Matt, you and Backtrack have created many sculptures for sale, mainly focusing on garden ornament animals. Tell us some more about this …
I help and guide the kids to unleash their creative side, and I really love to see the skills they learn while under my creative eye. I help with the creative ideas for the artistic projects, as well as being hands on too. The created sculptures are then put for sale to help Backtrack and its projects. We’ve been getting invites for scrap metal sculpture exhibitions to be displayed in many events, including the recent exhibition at NERAM, Garden Sculptures, where we had three artworks in the exhibition – one sold, with the money going to Backtrack.

Future plans?
If you don’t see me here (Backtrack) when I’m old and grey, something’s wrong.

Thanks Matt.

This article was from issue 99 of New England Focus.

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