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Gasworks Presents Blades House - Matthew Darbyshire
Eliterank, 2007, carpet

LONDON.-Gasworks presents Blades House - Matthew Darbyshire, on view through Sunday 23 March, 2008. Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s first solo show in a public UK institution takes as a departure the domestic interior of a fictitious, urban middle-class professional in his mid-thirties. The character and his choice of furniture, textiles, art and other paraphernalia are used as a vehicle to address issues of taste, style, aspiration, class distinction and demographic blurring.

The actual floor-plan of Darbyshire’s installation is based on a two-bedroom flat in Blades House which is part of the Kennington Park Estate, next to Gasworks. Darbyshire’s life-size mock-up draws its inspiration from numerous conversions of two-bed council flats into spacious and airy contemporary-style ‘one-beds’.

Our young professional, taking his first step onto the property ladder, could well be inspired by one of the protagonists of JG Ballard’s High Rise (1975). His taste in furniture reflects an endeavour to assimilate and maintain the social standing of his peer group who shares a similar age, upbringing and occupation.

Owing to the recent timing of his purchases, the occupant’s furniture and accessories are invariably unified by a pervading fun, pop-feel colour scheme of deep turquoises, alluring pinks, buttercup yellows, salsa reds, lime greens, ocean blues and bright oranges, not so far away from the eye-bulging CMYKRGB inks that make up the pages of the countless lifestyle magazines he reads, the library facade he keeps meaning to enter, the hoarding on the other ex-authority flats nearby that weren’t high-rise enough to survive regeneration, the estate agent emblem from whom he purchased the flat, the glass he was given free with the McDonalds breakfast he hurriedly bought on his way to work yesterday, the vinyl upholstered Jacobsen egg chair he hoofed it down on, the iPod nano onto which he’s just downloaded tumblin’ dice, having been blown away by it at the Stones O2 gig last week, or the vertical stripes of the public artwork under the bridge.

Not as punk as pop, and not as wacky as Memphis, it is this colour scheme that dominates our material world, which on this occasion interests the artist. By reflecting upon old, new, national and international movements in art, architecture and design, Darbyshire hopes to identify some of the forces which affect our tastes and influence the look and feel of where we live.

As well as containing furniture and accessories from interior decoration stores ranging from George at Asda to Fritz Hansen, Matthew Darbyshire will include his own components alongside those of other artists and designers, thus producing a composition that goes beyond representation, by allowing for gaps, antagonisms and doubts to slip in.

Matthew Darbyshire’s engagement with modern and post-modern design as a social and economical mirror of contemporary society is formalised through a display system – the hypothetical replica of the Blades House flat, once occupied – drawing from London’s Geffrye Museum’s depictions of the quintessential style of English middle-class living rooms from 1600 to 1997. As a proposed continuation of the museum’s chronology, the artist opens a window onto the recent past and the present, one that is notably marked by a tendency for the reuse and remodelling of cultural material.

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