From his early childhood, Simmonds was fascinated by stone buildings, an affection that flows into his artworks, where stone architecture is used as a central theme. Particularly the medieval architecture, with its striving to get to a new sophistication of space, comes alive in the marble. Simmonds makes a play of architecture and ornamentation on a small scale, but the spaces created give the same feeling as in the buildings themselves; a place to rest, a place to travel with the eye and maybe find a moment of tranquillity. The marble is opened up, and inside is a space within a building that only exists in the viewer’s mind. What you sense is the significance of space.
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Matthew Simmonds graduated from university with a degree in history of art in 1984, specialising in the art and architecture of the medieval period. In 1991 he trained as an architectural stone carver, and in this capacity he participated in the restoration of several important historic monuments in England, most particularly Westminster Abbey and Ely Cathedral. In 1996 he transferred to Italy, where he specialised in the carving of fine classical sculpture in marble.
In 1999 he won first prize at the Verona International Sculpture Symposium, gaining his first recognition as a sculptor. Since then he has participated in various international sculpture symposiums, in Italy and beyond, winning several prizes. He has exhibited in Italy, China and the USA.
‘The sculptures of Matthew Simmonds give us a direct experience of our being in the present, through a love of the past transmitted in marble and light.
‘To create a sculpture that catches the light and structure of a building and lets the eye wander, to feel that here my eye could live, here a part of me could stay, is a great achievement. The sculptures give the viewer a different perspective on space. They look different from every viewpoint. You long to be in them, and they seem almost more meaningful for that.‘