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Matthew John Atkinson and an Alternative to an MA


Matthew John Atkinson, Celestial, Oil on Linen on Board, 150 x 100cm, 2012

World Event Young Artists 2012 in Nottingham was fantastic for making connections with other artists. I feel you can learn a lot from your peers and while there I rather shamelessly grilled several people about one of the big questions I have been considering lately, whether or not to do an MA. So this is how the following interview originated; I met Matthew John Atkinson at WEYA and he told me about the new Turps Banana Art School that he was going to be participating in. This sounded like a really interesting alternative to an MA and Matthew was kind enough to answer a few questions for me to share.

You are attending the Turps Art School Painting Programme; has it been what you were expecting thus far?

The art school has been exactly what I wanted rather than expected. As it was the first year for the art school it was difficult to expect too much, but it is a privilege to be part of something so special.

What were your goals when you began the programme? Do you feel you are achieving them / will achieve them by the end of the programme?

My aims and objectives for the programme are quite ambitious. As such I am not sure that I will ever fully realise them even beyond the programme. Alas, I am more than satisfied with developing/challenging both my painting language and conceptual premise.

Below is an excerpt from my original statement of intent.

The studio programme presents a unique test bed to undertake an investigation into the chemical characteristics of printing and painting pigments to explore the idea ‘designed obsolescence’ in painting; a policy of deliberately planning or creating a painting that will become obsolete or non-functional after a certain period of time.

I have always been beguiled and fascinated with the hermetic characteristics of paint and printing pigments. I plan to create paintings that defy their fixed and motionless state, their prescribed obligation to permanence. My objective is to explore and raise the following questions:

  • Could a painting change its own complexion over a period of time, through designed chemical reactions?
  • Or in the moment, using reactive paints or devises?
  • Could a painting be designed to vanish over time, encapsulating the very fabric of transience?
  • Could it then reveal something hidden, an image, another painting perhaps?
  • How might ‘designed obsolescence’ re-contextualise a painting in the future?
  • Could the effect of ‘designed obsolescence’ (de)value a painting?

‘Designed obsolescence’ is designed to challenge conventions and destabilise such realities prescribed to painting. Whilst also serving to highlight the epistemological limitations of human knowledge and understanding; through the breakdown of depicted subject matter and ideas.

Would you rate the programme as being worth the financial cost?

The programme is definitely worth the financial cost! This I cannot stress enough. Even though at the end of the programme there is no MA certificate (which to be honest these days I believe is worthless), I get a whole year of dedicated support and guidance, access to some of the most important artists, curators and a group exhibition at one of London’s most prestigious galleries. There is no question if the programme is worth the financial cost! Whilst not forgetting that the programme is also cheaper than any full time MA programme and the studio is bigger, the list goes on…

What has been the biggest benefit of the programme for you?

The constant support, guidance and intense critique of my work has been one of the biggest benefits of the programme. This comes in abundance from every mentor on a fortnightly basis, peer artists on the programme and visiting artists.

Would you recommend Turps Art School to others?


Would you still consider attending an MA programme in the future?

Not after attending the Turps Art School. However, I would never be too sure to say that I wouldn’t…

Are there any things that have happened so far that you feel are really awesome, like a great visiting lecturer?

Visits from Peter Doig, Nigel Cooke, Phillip Allen, Matthew Collins, every mentor and artist not mentioned that have visited the programme has been really awesome, and a privilege. How else would I be able to gain access to such prestigious artists and feel I can stand toe to toe (if only for a minute…), learn from and challenge. Finally, being amongst each artist on the programme is equally awesome.

The programme is in its infancy and will go from strength to strength as it matures and develops. However, it is not far off from being perfect (in my humble opinion).


Check out more of Matthew’s work on his website http://www.matthewatkinson.co.uk/

The Turps Banana Art School is currently accepting applications for 2013. More information on their website http://turpsbanana.com/


Matthew John Atkinson, Pseudo Essence Energy, Oil on Linen on Board, 100 x 66cm, 2012


Interview by Alana Tyson.


One comment on “Matthew John Atkinson and an Alternative to an MA

  1. Lunch Money
    June 29, 2013

    It’s really a cool and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied
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