Matt Watkins is an artist working with light, lenses, paint and technology known for the Beat13 arts collective, the Gorillaz project and working with artist Lucy McLauchlan.
In 2000 Matt started working with Jamie Hewlett as designer/animator on the virtual-band Gorillaz. Originally perceived as an experimental art-band project, the intrigue created by the award-winning website alongside modish collaborations with musicians and artists propelled the group to global acclaim and Grammy-winning status. Hewlett won the Design Museum’s Designer of The Year in 2006.
Matt built the Beat13 website in 1999 as a fulcrum for collaboration between artists and musicians in his home town of Birmingham. The collective took on illustration commissions and used OHPs and 35mm slide projectors at social meetings in and around Birmingham. Artist Lucy McLauchlan, brother Tim, DJ Guy Carlos, and illustrator Al Murphy exhibited at London’s Horse Hospital, Matt nurtured approaches to DIY independent collective practices producing art prints, the gallery in Birmingham, exhibits, roadshows and audio-visual orientated workshops.
Matt continues to collaborate with Lucy McLauchlan on murals, exhibits, documentation and global art initiatives including; a long-running relationship with Studio Cromie’s Famé Festival (Grottaglie, Italy); exhibitions in San Fransisco and Los Angeles; See No Evil (Bristol, UK); projects with Lazarides Gallery in London; The New Art Gallery Walsall and close relationships with the Keep-A-Breast foundation (US).
A number of Matt’s commissions in recent years have involved producing visual design & lighting for festivals and performances such as the Gorillaz live shows, Live_Transmission; Joy Division Reworked with the Heritage Orchestra & Scanner, Bladerunner at the Sydney Opera House, A Time & Place; Musical Meditations on WWI with Sam Lee and The Unthanks and VJ productions for DJs, bands and festivals including his own band Mothwasp. Matt established the concept for the Why Music Matters campaign films.
Matt’s practice has evolved to embrace AV technologies from the past and the present. Drawing and painting formed the basis of his early development, followed by studying dark-room photography, music technology, media-production and subsequent employment as a digital graphics technician. Many projects begin with drawing and painting, experiments with photo-media. Continually developed skills include DIY circuitry, LED lighting, circuit-bending, and sound engineering.
In addition to workshops, Matt has lectured at Coventry University, guided an interactive design module at Derby College and has spoken at a number of art and design events.
Matt’s experimental music/AV project Mothwasp acts as a testing ground for ideas both technically and aesthetically. Stark, oblique, distorted and serendipitous, live performances invariably involve near-defunct analogue AV technologies, field recordings, homemade electronics and sensory barrage. Mothwasp have performed during film festivals such as Animated Dreams/Black Nights (Estonia) Flatpack (UK) and at music festivals such as Supersonic and Supernormal (UK)
matt (at) beat13.co.uk