Matt Ellwood’s work is about the psychology of desire and the artificially constructed human relationships within advertising and merchandising. His key area of research has been 1970’s men’s magazines, movies and cigarette advertisements but more recently, contemporary New Zealand chain store promotional material and newspapers. His satirical, appropriation based art practice employs the various vocabularies of current advertising, building structures, toy merchandising, and outdated magazines as abundant resources for sculptures, drawings, and digital image interventions.
Recent sculptures have been constructed from industrial materials such as plywood, high density foam, fiberglass and resin. With a high degree of craftsmanship they are unique pieces that challenge their ubiquitous and mass produced origins. They use their materiality as a seductive visual entry into the work that is then often counterpointed with deliberately less celebratory content.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Frieze Saint Laurent (Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland), Smoking Tom Ford (The General Store for Contemporary Art, Sydney), Taste the Good Times (Pah Homestead, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland), and Citizen K (Altes Spital Cultural Centre, Switzerland).
Collaborations and group exhibitions include: the Te Tuhi drawing wall and billboard projects, the Big Day Art event at the Auckland Art Gallery, the Big Egg Hunt, Auckland, and the Govett Brewster’s 2003 review of contemporary New Zealand art.
Ellwood was awarded the Wallace Arts Trust Development prize in 2004 and the Kaipara Foundation Wallace Arts Trust Award in 2011, which included three-month residencies at the ISCP in New York and the Altes Spital Cultural Centre in Solothurn.
His work is included in prominent private and public art collections in both New Zealand and Australia. He has exhibited in the previous two headland Sculpture on the Gulf events in 2013 and 2015.
Matt Ellwood is Associate Head of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe School of Arts and Design.