Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews was born in 1978, lives in Leicestershire, and studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Peter was inspired to make the sea the focus of his work after suffering a near-death experience while surfing in Mexico in 2007. His drawings, paintings, photography and videos are conceptual and performative, and have been exhibited in galleries across Europe and America. In 2017, Peter was awarded the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize, by the Royal Academy, London, and received a grant from the Arts Council England.

Peter has a great affinity with the outdoors and it is where he feels safest. Peter talks about being in the water where although everything is moving he is suspended in time. This gives him a sense of security and serenity where the only thing he needs to think about are the things he can see, the waves which he counts, the clouds moving, the bubbles and rocks underneath the water. Times and maps are important to Peter, he counts the waves as sets, which you can clearly see in his drawings. Peter can spend up to 12 hours in the water at any one time and believes that “the ocean is writing itself, a lot of the words drift off the edge”.

Peter submitted a series of five drawings to the Spectrum Art Prize which he made while immersed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cornwall. He created each drawing after spending a certain number of hours in the Ocean, using rust and pen on paper, and a plank for support. His abstract drawings are – like a stream of consciousness – a response to the vastness of the sea and the experience of solitude that being immersed into the sea provides.

“Peter’s work is very original, created with an unusual process and in an unusual location. He creates pattern from sound and time and turns this into artistic visualisation” Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

“Peter explains he feels there are no barriers to time, or geographically when he is in the ocean. It is his personal dialogue with the ocean and the subject, which is constantly changing.” Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

“The series of drawings were produced while drawing alone for up to 12 hours, directly immersed in the Atlantic Ocean and wandering along the coastline in Cornwall last year. Drawing and recording the live stream of consciousness and phenomenon happening over time using pen and rust on paper.”Peter Matthews, on his own art

“Peter Matthews achieves a true disembodied relation to the surface of his drawing by being in the sea, for a very long time. Floating for hours in the ocean, drawing in response to movement, moment, ebb and flow, the artist’s body is able to turn into an instrument of gesture which records and responds to the build-up of force and movement. This cross between risk and knowledge, expectation and understanding, allows an exceptional account of real time to come to the surface.” Sacha Craddock, Curator

Peter Matthews