Born in Luton, England, in 1964, Matthew Curtis moved to Australia in 1981 as a young man. He began his journey in 1991 as a glassmaker assisting Robert Wynne in constructing and then working in a glass blowing studio (Denizen Glass in Manly, Sydney). Matthew worked for Wynne through 1998 while working on his own projects. After winning the People’s Choice award for the RFC prize, now known as the Ranamok Glass Prize, Matthew was awarded a solo exhibition. From this time on he has been working full time at creating sculpture and exhibiting nationally and internationally. He also began teaching extensively, both in Australia and abroad.
Throughout my practice, consistent themes and forms emerge; I am repeatedly drawn to the complexity and beauty of the microscopic architecture of living organisms while also being moved by the experience of space within minimalist architecture.
I am interested in capturing a depth and complexity to the blown and cast glass components I produce, where the finish of the sculpture captures a veiled aesthetic with hues of transparent colours fading and gathering in intensity, dependent upon the depth or delicate edge of the work. At times an envelope of trapped air affects the experience of the colored glass, creating a diaphanous structure within.
In constructing these components, the interplay and dynamic interrelationships of intersecting planes and sympathetic structures inform the design and assemblage. The pieces are then carved and finished to accentuate the structure and edge of the material.
My intention is that these glass structures invite the viewer to contemplate an illusory experience of discovery, a moment of wonder at the complexity of the natural world. Where peering into an enlarged thorax of a beetle, or of the microscopic structures of diatom, allows for an expanding experience of space and form.
My exhibition held in September at Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, Australia, draws upon the structured cross sections of plant life – a contemplation of the details within the exquisite architecture of organic growth. It affords an opportunity to contemplate that which lies within, a sculptural investigation between the solid depths and contrasting interior surfaces of these forms.
It is a sense of potential which focuses my interest upon the architecture of microscopic organic structures. The exquisite and multifarious cellular forms, intricate and evolved, reflect the complexity of growth. The diversity of form in nature and the ability of humans to describe the universe mathematically is a recurring theme within my practice.
Within my studio practice I strive to extend the possibilities of the material. From a background in traditional glass blowing, I am hybridizing traditional skills with mould making enabling me to achieve specific components, in which the glass affords an interaction between the solid depths and delicate edges of the forms.
These hybridized blown and cast glass components are precisely ground and joined into larger structures, which are then carved and sculpted as a single form. In this body of work I am drawing upon the exquisite details of diatoms, plant structures and other microscopic architectural structures, to allude to a sense of perforated micro and macroscopic space.
The precise linear grid provides the structure of the “Xylem” forms. The perforated space of the form draws upon the cellular structures of plants. The blowing process itself provides a controlled yet loosely determined internal structure, allowing a certain rhythmical and poetic looseness within the precise structure of the objects.
Matthew Curtis, 2013
2014 Capital Arts Patrons Organisation, Canberra, Fellowship, New Work
2013 Arts ACT New Work Grant. ACT, Australia.
2011 Arts NSW Travel Grant.
2010 Arts Act New Work Grant. ACT, Australia.
2006 New work Grant, Australia Council.
2004 New work Grant, Australia Council.
2002 New Work Grant, Australia Council Grant.
1999 Thomas Foundation Grant.
1999 Fellowship, Creative Glass Center of America, Wheaton NJ.
Art Trust. Australia.
Art Gallery of South Australia.
National Gallery of Australia. 2003, 2011, 2013
Wagga Wagga National Glass Collection. Australia. 2003, 2010, 2012.
Mobile City Art Glass Museum Collection, America.
Ernsting Stifting, Glass Museum, Coesfelfd Germany.
De Young Museum, Saxe Collection, San Francisco, America.
Palm Springs Museum, CA. USA.
Private Collection of Elton John.
Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi.
Societe General, Singapore.. Abu Dhabi
2015 Creative Fellow Canberra Glass Works, Canberra, Australia.
2015 Wheaton Village Glass Weekend, Millville NJ, USA.
2015 Habatat Gallery International Invitational Exhibition, Michigan USA.
2015 Tom Malone Prize Finalist, Gallery of Western Australia.
2015 ‘Palette’ Sabbia Gallery Sydney.
2014 “Tree” Canberra Glassworks,
2013 A Line of Symmetry. Sabbia Gallery, Sydney.
2013 Habatat International Invitational, Michigan, USA.
2013 Tom Malone Finalist, Art Gallery of NSW.
2013 Waterhouse Finalist, South Australian Museum.
2013 Prima, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney. Part of Art Month.
2012 Habatat International Invitational, Michigan, USA.
2012 SOFA USA co, Pismo Gallery Colorado.
2011 Habatat International Invitational, Michigan, USA.
2011 ‘Geometry’ Masters Exhibition, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney.
2010 ‘Transparent’ Axia Modern Art, Melbourne.
2010 ‘Sum of Parts’, Masters Exhibition, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney.
2010 Australian Survey exhibition; Imago Gallery, Palm Desert, USA.
2010 SOFA Chicago, Thomas R Riley Gallery.
2010 Ranamok glass prize, touring finalist, Australia.
2009 ‘Symmetry in Nature’, Axia Modern Art, Melbourne.
2009 Finalist, Ranamok Glass Prize, Australia.
2009 ‘Collect’ at Satchi Gallery London. Co, Raglan Gallery Sydney
2009 Palm Beach 3, Thomas R Riley Gallery, USA.
2009 SOFA Santa Fe, Thomas R Riley Gallery, USA.
2008 “Matthew Curtis”, solo exhibition, Riley Gallery, Cleveland, USA.
2008 “Dialogue”, Beaver Gallery, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
2008 “Dividing Lines”, Solo Exhibition, Pismo Gallery, Aspen, USA.
2008 Palm Beach 3, Thomas R Riley Gallery, USA.
2008 “Collect” V&A, England, co. Raglan Gallery Sydney
2007 SOFA Chicago, Thomas R Riley Gallery.
2007 “Structural Divisions”, Axia Modern Art, Melbourne.
2006 “Australische Impressionen”, Gallery Rosenhauer, Goettingen, Germany.
2006 “Australian Glass” Sandra Ainsley Gallery Toronto, Canada.
2006 SOFA Chicago, Thomas R Riley Gallery.
2006 “Collect” V&A, England, co. Raglan Gallery Sydney
2005 “Segmented Structures” solo exhibition, Axia Modern Art, Melbourne.
2005 “Canberra Glass 2005”, Beaver Gallery, Canberra.
2005 “Glass Survey Exhibition”, Sanske Gallery, Switzerland.
“Collect, V&A”, England. co. Raglan Gallery.
2004 “SOFA Chicago”, Bullseye Gallery.
2004 “Something Different”, Glass Pyramid Gallery, Budapest, Hungary. “Solo Exhibition” Sanske Gallery Zurich, Switzerland.
2003 “Grid Lines” Solo Exhibition Axia Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia.
2003 “Tactile” Solo Exhibition at Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney.
2003 “National Sculpture Prize” Exhibition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
2003 “Surveying the Surface” solo exhibition at Beaver Galleries, ACT.
2002 “Material Culture” National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
2002 “Transparent Things” National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition,
in collaboration with Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery and The Thomas Foundation.
2001 “Solo Exhibition”, Sanske Gallery in collaboration with Creative Glass, Zurich.
2001 “Symmetry x 2” Australian Art Resources, Axia Modern Art, Melbourne.
1999 “Weekend 99”, Wheaton Village, Milleville, NJ
1998 “Past Tense/Future Perfect” National Tour, Craft West, Perth.