Monday, 12 July 2010


Matthew Darbyshire, Funhouse (2009)

20 MAY 12 JULY 2009

The Hayward Project Space presents a new work, Funhouse, by emerging British artist Matthew Darbyshire. Darbyshire's large scale installation takes its form from the funhouse - a type of fairground or seafront attraction characterised by wobbly mirrors, undulating floors, and other such wacky amusements that reached its high watermark of popularity in the 1980s. While traditional funhouses make use of generic cartoon-like shapes and primary colours, Darbyshire's installation quotes from the 'visitor-friendly' design language of 21st Century British public and corporate architecture, calling into question the way in which it appeals to liberal humanist values such as inclusiveness, diversity and choice, but often flattens and oversimplifies them, emphasising an uncritical and stage-managed 'fun' over thoughtful and truly liberating engagement.

Architectural elements appropriated by Darbyshire include the Millennium Bull from Birmingham's Millennium Point complex, adorned with soft drinks cans, a mural from the Coin Street Family and Children's Centre in Waterloo, London, and an oversized ear from an Orange mobile phone shop in Glasgow. Borrowed or remade (sometimes with a telling twist), each of these fragments of Britain's post-millennial built environment corresponds to a feature in the traditional funhouse – a remnant of an earlier leisure age.

Darbyshire's installation employs a palette of bright oranges, magentas, purples, and neon greens that will be familiar to anybody who has visited an urban regeneration area, a flagship arts centre, or retail outlets such as Nike Town or The Apple Store. Hinting at the very particular way in which the state and commercial interests seek to control our experience of public space and our conception of the public sphere, the artist's compendium of around 40 architectural motifs begs the question: 'is this a people's palace, or a very contemporary house of horrors?'

is accompanied by the website designed by Matthew Darbyshire and Henry Proctor, with texts by Darbyshire, Proctor, Tom Morton, Fatima Hellberg and Louisa Adam.

Matthew Darbyshire (born Cambridge, UK, 1977) graduated in 2005 from the Royal Academy Schools, London after completing his BA (Hons) at the Slade School, London. Recent exhibitions include AlterModern: The 2009 Tate Triennial at Tate Britain, Nought to Sixty at The ICA (2008) and Blades House at Gasworks (2008). He lives and works in London. Funhouse was made possible with the help of funding from the Vauxhall Collective, a Vauxhall Motors' arts initiative, which supports new creative talent in the UK in fields including film, fashion, visual arts and theatre.

is curated by Tom Morton, Curator at The Hayward Gallery.


Interview with Matthew Darbyshire about Funhouse in the Architects' Journal

Interview with Darbyshire about Funhouse in Icon Magazine

Video interview with Darbyshire about Funhouse for

Guardian newspaper exhibitions of the week, featuring Funhouse

Guardian newspaper artist of the week, Matthew Darbyshire

Interview with Darbyshire about Funhouse in the Kennington Association blog

Hayward Gallery / Southbank Centre website