Body of Work Series

The exciting debut solo exhibition by Rachel Matton opens Saturday 12th September 2020 at The Lounge, Thames-Side Studios, Woolwich, London, SE18 5NR. The exhibition features eight abstract pieces from her collection ‘Body of Work’ which will be on display until Friday 25th September 2020.

“Painting is a form of escapism, when I’m painting I am completely lost in the moment and I don’t think about anything around me, which is quite different to my usual self which can often become preoccupied in the past or worried about the future. Diving into the paint and plethora of colour and movement allows me to be truly present in the moment.

The different elements in the work also call to my different moods and emotions, working quite actively with experimentation and energy on the complex under layers of the painting, I sometimes work on multiple canvas at a time. My inspiration for each piece are life drawing sketches, of which I use the loose lines and shapes from those life drawings to begin shaping the base of the abstracts. Contorting both the life drawn sketches on the canvas as well as my own body, I use sweeping brush marks with various intensities often across large canvas, pushing my body to it’s far reaching limits. 

– Rachel Matton

This grounding layer symbolises for me the raw emotion I feel when I’m painting. There is a sense of chaos in this under layer which is quite responsive and urgent. Moving onto the secondary layer, I add bold clean shapes and symbols which sit atop the chaos. These floating shapes signify a sense of calmness, structure and solidity, but also of complication, transforming the chaos into something more sophisticated and competing, requiring navigation. The symbols and shapes are painted intuitively in response to the ground, and there is a push and pull on the canvas as I work to resolve the overall painting using these shapes. Finally, the white line is added to finish the piece weaving and balancing between these different tones, colours, speeds and shapes on the canvas to tie together the whole experience. The line is painted in one sweeping decisive action and is the finishing point of the painting altogether. It brings a sense of reassurance to the painting combining all the different elements. 

There is a competing intention on the canvas between the complex background, flat shapes and the colour used – which I think reflects well the competing and varying needs we all have as individuals and society, between the needs of the few and of the many, the rich and the poor, the elderly and the young, and so on. There is a sense of rhythm, speed and stillness throughout the series, much like what we experience throughout our life course – repetition, the excitement of a moment or an accomplishment, and the stillness of a tragedy or bereavement.  

– Rachel Matton

As a sociology graduate and having also studied counselling and psychology, I am motivated by why people do the things they do and the games people play. Painting this collection has been much like a game, taking turns on the canvas with these competing moves and plays, and resolving them entirely by crossing that white finish line and moving onto the next game. I have purposefully left the paintings untitled to continue with the exploration of psychology. As abstract paintings, they are very much open to interpretation and I have already received a range of feedback from viewers about their own personal responses, much like responses to the famous ink blot tests of Rorschach. Indeed some of the collection plays with this mirror image idea further, resulting in mirrored diptychs. 

There has definitely been a theme of femininity, and female reproduction in responses I have received from viewers, which upon reflection has been an unconscious creation both on my part and the viewer. As a woman in the world of art which is still very much dominated by men, it is very important to me to share and celebrate femininity and the power of women. As an artist, I have been particularly influenced by Hilma AF Klint, Cecily Brown and Yuko Nasu, and I can see their influence and styles integrated into my own work. I will be continuing to explore these themes in subsequent projects involving more abstract work following on from ‘Body of Work’,  incorporating smaller pieces and the introduction of embroidery, as well as a wider project as part of an artist residency with a local secondary school exploring identity, portraiture and monotype printing.”

– Rachel Matton

Rachel lives and works in London and is based at Thames-Side Studios, Unit 5, Studio 338. An emerging artist so far self taught, Rachel is currently developing her artistic style and voice through studying with the Open College of Arts, and learning from her peers at Thames-Side Studios. 

Preview: Saturday 12th September 2020
Closing night: Friday 25th September 2020


  hours  minutes  seconds


Body of Work

To arrange an appointment to view “Body of Work” contact the artist by email

Thames-Side Studios Lounge is based in Unit 0 and open to all studio holders and by appointment. 

For general Thames-Side Studios enquiries please email

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