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"Everyone has their own reasons for using animals in art, but for me I always go back to the animals themselves for inspiration. My love of them, their different form, movement, smell and nature are the reasons for my making them. Their nature, even of a domesticated or trained animal is unpredictable and wild, their presence is always enlivening. I want my work to remind people of our need for animals and the example their nature provides us with.
I was always fascinated by my father's veterinary and animal anatomy books. Although a knowledge of the bone and muscle structure is invaluable and I measure and draw dead animals in their stillness, it is their movement and life, their spirit that interests me. The way their flesh falls as they lie or their muscle stretches as they turn, or the small movements and noises they make as they feed.
The metal armature, the start of most of my sculptures, is the equivalent of a quick line drawing from life. This has to have an initial spark, a rightness. Then building the muscle and flesh around the frame is like building up the marks on a more worked drawing. The materials I use such as coire fibre, cow muck, steel, copper, wood, all have a relevance to the subject I am making. They usually have a texture and colour that means no surface has to be added. The materials I use for drawing and sculpture are often suggested by the subject, or the place I am working in."
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Red deer drawing 2013
Hereford Bull sculpture at Cabalva Farm - hArt 2012.
bronze dog sculpture - Colva Church - hArt 2012.
Feather dog at the Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy - Summer 2012
Steel dog at Kidwelly Castle, South Wales, - Summer 2012
Horse and dog for Burghley - Summer 2012
Feather Horse in the making - to be sited at the Hay Festival 2012
"Of those contemporary artists who continue to use animals as a focus of artistic expression, Sally Matthews is perhaps the most remarkable in her ability to capture the characteristics of the creatures with which we share our world. Utterly unsentimental in her approach, she unerringly finds the means of suggesting, both through their forms and the natural materials she uses, what make them what they are - and thus what makes them different to us. They therefore exert an endless fascination, as if gazing at her sculptures and drawings we might somehow impossibly, sense what it must be to be a cow, or a sheep, or a horse, might thereby plumb the unfathomable (to us) mystery of the inner existences of beings which, like us, are sentient, but are separate, distinct and within themselves. An edge of discomfort can accompany the feelings of familiarity and fascination, as Matthews' ability to convey this sense of the creatures' distinct existences provokes within us awareness of the dominion exerted by humans over animals."
Martin Barlow - Director - Oriel Mostyn Gallery
"Sally's concerns are different as her whole practice is about the natural representation of creatures which share our world. Animals, which are integrated to site, often made using accesible materials of the place. it is the making which is one of the areas that separates out Sally Matthews."
"It is not only a love and understanding of the materials that shows through. It is not only zestful play which fuses 'stuff' to create surface and form. There is a sense of freedom in the making, a spirit very much of the creatures she seeks to make. A feeling that the animals breathe and have a life of their own."
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