Theo Simpson

Artist and photographer Theo Simpson explores a range of different material languages within his visual and formal investigations of British landscape and its industrial heritage...

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Vanden Plas — Layered aluminium mounted chromogenic prints bonded to 18–gauge steel sheet (British Leyland Cashmere Gold body colour / lacquer) in mild steel angle iron case, 560 x 450 x 20mm

Describe your work in three words...
I did tried.
Where did you study, and how did that experience shape your practice?
I studied on a very traditional Photography HND course in Sheffield before completing a one year BA. I think the technical course gave me a really good grounding with different techniques, which allows more possibilities in the future.

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purple piece of silk — Framed C-type and advert, 500 x 380mm

What first sparked your fascination with England's landscape and industrial heritage?
Mainly because it was there, I was in it and I could touch it. How this particular landscape around me is changing, diversely and inexorably, is fascinating. The industrial nature of these regions has of course shaped the dynamics of the landscape physically, culturally, ecologically, ideologically, socially etc., and this is something I attempt to understand and examine. It’s become a mechanism to imagine and speculate on our new degree of existence, connections and relationships to the broader world, how the recent industrial past feeds into a more globalised stage.

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Installation view, Galerie 52, Essen, Germany

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Timing marks — Silkscreen print on 18–gauge cold rolled steel (British Leyland Diamond White / Azure Blue body colour / lacquer) in stainless steel angle iron case, 700 x 500 x 20mm

When and why did you start working in three dimensions, and what's the relationship between this and your two-dimensional work?
It’s been a logical progression of the work, the ideas rely on introducing the language of other materials into the communication — the structural works have a singular nature but are often composed with other works, so as elements, a larger conversation is enabled.

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All the headlines — Framed C-type/Gelatin silver print and book page, 500 x 380mm

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of the parts, of the hole. V.I Aluminium mounted chromogenic print in mild steel angle iron case, 560 x 450 x 20mm

Can you explain your use of archival materials within your work, and where you source these? How does this relate to your photography?
I’ve been collecting archive material for many years, of various types: provincial and national newspapers, press photography, amateur photography, car brochures and manuals, engineering manuals, drawings, plans, propaganda material etc. It all has such a unique language, not just in its original purpose and narrative but the way in which it’s been collected or forgotten, sold, traded etc. — it has such energy and potential. An intrinsic strategy of the work is reimagining how this can exist today.

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RITZ — Layered aluminium mounted chromogenic prints bonded to 18–gauge steel sheet (British Leyland Diamond White body colour / laquer) in mild steel angle iron cases, 560 x 450 x 20mm

Is there a particular feeling, atmosphere or mood you try to evoke within your work, or a sense that you want to share with your audience?
What I’m attempting is a particular structure, rhythm and compression of materials to satisfy a particular set of ideas or speculative thought, the mixture of materials, their source and use, how they can be manipulated, corrupted etc.; pulling things in from different points in time and places carries a certain weight and significance, which I attempt to control.

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epitaph I — Installation view, Webber gallery, London. Structural work of 7 high tensile 25mm reinforced steel bars, 20mm plate steel, acrylic paint — dimensions variable

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Timing marks / LT77 Flywheel — Silkscreen / acrylic paint on 18-gauge cold rolled steel in mild steel angle iron cases, 560 x 450 x 20mm

How does the framing and physical presentation of your work contribute to each piece—is this an important consideration for you?
The casing of a work is integral to its function, and as critical as the components it holds. Each variation or form is usually realised individually, so the particular treatment of the materials is specific to the works.
What are you working on now, and what's next for you?
I'm making more site specific works — specifically clearing and preparing sites for future works. The site itself has been the subject of recent thinking and research — particularly its geology, industrial history and my experience of it. I'm also fabricating new structural pieces which are exploring more modern techniques and technologies in their construction.

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Tomorrow. Today — Layered hand-polished laser cut 18–gauge cold rolled steel sheet in mild steel angle iron case, 560 x 450 x 20mm

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the land of the day before — Installation view, Webber gallery, London