ArtsMatrix is the South West Skills development agency for the Creative Industries. ArtsMatrix was established in 2004 and has developed an outstanding reputation for the provision of expert, bespoke support for both personal and professional development within the creative industries.
In 2010 Plymouth College of Art took ownership of ArtsMatrix with a new remit:
To be a creative catalyst supporting energising, ambitious and sustainable creative communities.
James A. Brown
On Thursday evening (22nd) Artsmatrix relaunched in some spectacular style. Ostensibly, the night was the first of a series of networking events for creative industries businesses, freelancers and artists. However, all who attended would agree that the evening was made memorable mostly through the presence of artist, critic and broadcaster, Matthew Collings.
Collings has always taken the position that an understanding of and access to fine art should be inclusive, and his books and television programmes bear this out. His style is anti-hierarchical, and makes subjects from renaissance painting to beat poetry accessible to a broad audience, but without patronizing or excluding any element of a potential viewership. This, I would imagine, is one of the reasons why Artsmatrix chose Collings to relaunch the organization, as Artsmatrix exists in order to support any and all who wish to forge out a career or start a business in the creative industries, regardless of prior experience or knowledge. The support offered by Artsmatrix is inclusive in that it includes courses and events aimed equally at those who are just starting out and those who are developing an already existing career
After a welcoming (and welcome) glass of Champaign and some early catching-up between friends and colleagues old and new, Collings launched the renewed and refreshed Artsmatrix with a talk focusing mainly on what he described as his ‘real work’, that is the painting on which he collaborates with his wife Emma Biggs. He discussed the nature and strength of collaboration, which felt apt as the evening provided an opportunity for the South West’s creatives to forge new professional relationships, and throughout the evening I overheard at least two conversations concerning current or potential future collaborative projects.
Collings went on to speak about the nature of contemporary art (and the contexts within which it is displayed and discussed), and about the task of the contemporary artist, which must be to differentiate his/her work from the ‘clamour for attention’ played out by today’s art of ‘desperate futility’. His and Biggs’s paintings, he suggested, ‘are capable of philosophizing the world, creating a metaphor of beauty for philosophy’.
As the celebration moved out of the studio theatre and into The Gallery and bar area, Collings stayed on to dispense more bon mots and advice to fellow creatives on subjects from painting and writing, to getting work into galleries.
That the work in The Gallery’s current exhibition, Lab Craft: Digital Adventure in Contemporary Craft is such a spectacular and enthralling show was an added bonus for those attending. Pieces such as Geoffrey Mann’s stunning candelabra provided talking points to accompany the wine provided by the Barbican Theatre’s mobile B-Bar.
The first night of Artsmatrix’s new life was undeniably a resounding success, with at least 80 or 90 South West artists and creatives mixing, meeting, talking and planning – not to mention celebrating the rebirth of an organization that is central to the creative industries in the region. If this evening, and Matthew Collings’s opening talk is a sign of things to come for Artsmatrix, then the future of the arts in the South West of England is surely in safe hands.
© January 2011 James A. Brown