Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Matt Stokes (b.1973, Penzance, UK) has lived and worked in the North East since 1993. Recent solo exhibitions include Site Gallery, Sheffield (2014); Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (2014); Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne (2013); and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012).
Matt Stokes’s practice stems from a long-term enquiry into subcultures, particularly musical ones. He is interested in the way music provides a sense of collectivity, acting as a catalyst for particular groups to form, shaping and influencing people’s lives and identities. His works are often context-specific; he immerses himself in a setting and area of interest, through which collaborations with informal communities arise.
In 2006, Stokes was awarded the Becks Futures Prize for Long After Tonight (2005), an impressionistic 16mm film of a re-creation of a Northern Soul night staged at St Salvador’s Church in Dundee, parts of which housed some of the city’s first dance events of this kind during the early 1970s. Stokes invited original participants of this scene to dance to tracks from the genre, but transposed the event to within the nave’s Gothic interior. The candid portraits of the dancers and images showing Christian iconography and architecture offer a parallel depiction of the event captured in the film. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ collecting policy for contemporary art focuses on figurative work by nationally-known artists and outstanding artists working in the region, as well as themes of identity and memory. These photographs will resonate with those among the Museum’s audience who remember Northern Soul nights in the city, as well as engage younger visitors living in a city with a vibrant current music scene.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2015