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Playful world of robots comes to Ealing’s Pitzhanger Manor in A Sense of Wonder: The Curious Robot World of Matt Dixon

An interactive and immersive exhibition featuring the playful and magical world of robots created by Matt Dixon has now arrived in Ealing with a new art exhibition A Sense of Wonder: The Curious Robot World of Matt Dixon running until 12 February 2023 at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery.

EALING.NEWS had the opportunity to meet 50-year-old Matt Dixon and explore the exhibition which is based around his Transmissions project.

Matt Dixon started his love for digital art at the age of eight when he assembled images using ASCII characters on his Commodore VIC-20 home computer and recently he is behind the design of the O2 mobile network robot brand mascot, Bubl.

Today, he continues to work solely as a digital artist using a PC to craft his art and show his fans and the public what is going on in his worlds.

A Sense of Wonder: The Curious Robot World of Matt Dixon features his work and who has had a long standing career which includes 30-years of creating art for video games including Crash Bandicoot, Pirates of the Caribbean and Spyro the Dragon.

EALING.NEWS was able to preview this amazing exhibition and took a short video as well as meeting Matt Dixon to find out more about his work and how he does it.

 

When  you meet Matt Dixon, his energy and curiosity about the world we live in stands out and clearly you can see he’s proud of his work and being able to showcase it at Pitzhanger Manor.

Why is it important to be here?
“This is important to me because it’s the first time my artwork has been seen in this way. I’m very fortunate that it’s quite popular online. There’s a reasonable social media following but it’s consumed usually on a smartphone, or through a desktop monitor. To have it popped out into a gallery, at scale, and in three dimensions with the sculptures that have been made for the exhibition is just a completely way different way to experience the artwork for me.”

You recently moved to Shropshire and this is your first time in Ealing, what has it been like?
“I’ve visited on a number of occasions on the run up to the to the exhibition and I have really enjoyed being here for a few days prior to the opening. It has given me a chance to try some bars and restaurants. It’s a really lovely place to be.”

What is the process for being a digital artist and how long does it take to create your work?
“The process is very similar to the process that I used when I’ve painted with real palettes with acrylics. So it begins with the sketch often a very loose sketch. That sketch has washes of colour applied to it to create a very basic impression of where I want to go with the image. And then I spend time working with opaque marks until the image feels like it’s done. It’s a relatively simple process. And that’s deliberate because I like to complete the artwork as quickly as possible, not to rush it but to try and maintain that initial atmosphere, that initial feeling that’s inspired me to create the artwork. And so if I can finish one in a day, that’s always the dream, but that will be a very long day and quite unusual. So they usually take two maybe three days, but the goal is always to stay in the zone to stay true to that initial feelings that inspire the image and to complete the image while I can still connect with that.”

How do you evolve as as an artist, what is the next level?
“Very interesting question. So the first Transmissions image was created in 2005/2006 around them, and the process really hasn’t evolved very much from that point. I transferred my acrylic painting process to digital in around 2000. And that simple approach has served me well in that time. So I think the next level as you describe it, has less to do with the process and more to do with the with the painting process. That is more to do with my thought processes and the way that I treat the images. In my imagination. The process of realising an image that seems to have settled down hasn’t changed there for maybe 20 years.”

Tell us about your video game that you are giving visitors a preview of?
“The idea is very much to transfer the vibe from the Transmissions, series of images into an interactive world where people can have a similar experience, but it won’t be the same experience. And that’s quite the challenge. How do you take something which currently exists as a series of still two dimensional images and make it interactive? I like to think the existing 2D images are interactive, they invite people to imagine and fill in the gaps that are left in those images. So the video game will be an attempt to expand upon that concept.”

What is fascinating about the exhibition and Matt’s robots is how the themes of modern life including the environment, mental health and consumerism are presented. Despite being all created digitally the robots show aspects of human emotions including love, curiosity, fear, kindness, hope, fun and friendship.

Another amazing aspect of the exhibition is the soundtrack which spans 100 years of music and features everyone from David Bowie to Kate Bush and from Bob Marley to Pink Floyd.  This all adds to the experience and helps take visitors out of their own world and into the world Matt Dixon has created for people to immerse themselves in. The music totally enhances the experience of being there and walking around the exhibition.

The soundtrack which goes on for hours in a very enjoyable way was selected by music industry veteran Rob Dickins OBE who also curated the exhibition.

The exhibition is supported by The Deborah Loeb Brice Donor Advised Fund.

Admission details:
Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm (late opening Thursday: 10am-7pm)
Full price: £12 Thurs/Fri + £14 Sat/Sun
Concessions 5-15 + Student: £6 Thurs/Fri + £7 Sat/Sun
Half Price: National Art Pass
Free: Members, 4 and under, Historic Houses members, Entry with donation on Wed
Tickets can be booked online

A programme of related events will accompany the exhibition:
Members’ Evening: Curator Talk (19 October 2022, 6.30pm) — Exhibition viewing and introduction from curator Rob Dickins CBE
A Sense of Wonder: Artist Talk (24 November 2022, 6.30pm) — Digital illustrator and concept Matt Dixon reveals his ideas and process in creating the exhibition works
A Sense of Wonder: Curator Talk (8 December 2022, 6.30pm) – Exhibition introduction from curator Rob Dickins CBE
Open Sundays (6 November + 4 December 2022 + 5 February 2023) – Family activities inspired by A Sense of Wonder on the first Sunday morning of every month
Special Thursday Lates (27 October + 24 November 2022, 26 January 2023) — special late programme on the last Thursday of every month with talks, creative activities inspired by A Sense of Wonder, bar and more

Are you an Ealing resident with a story to share? Or spotted something we should know about?
Get in touch with us by emailing: news@ealing.news or contact us on X @_EalingNews

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