On Diagram Poetry

Matthew presented his diagram poetry at the Loughborough Literary Salon in May 2015:
"From their inception my diagram poems have been an exercise in recontextualising readymade text and exploring the new meanings that creates..."
Click here for a pdf of the full transcript.

Prefaces, Forewords, Epilogues and Afterwords from handmade books

Diagram Poems

Diagram Poems

I Walk With Freer Step


The Six Days

Time To Go

Not Holding the String exhibition text by Heather Jones and Matthew James Kay
July 2010

In Not Holding the String, Matthew James Kay collects together a number of new objects for thought; sculptures, drawings and animations inspired by mistake-making, grace, doubt and faith in everyday life, which work together to talk about fear, expectations, uncertainty and hope.

The works on show all appear to be on a collective downer. A little gold tree full of dead bees (Here we Come!) is a monument to finality, standing unmonumentally on a fruit crate - "it happens" say the arrived. The newest piece in the show is an animation of what looks like a man on a tight rope. Balancing for eternity, not moving forward but not falling off, Frighteningly Close to Your Open Arms speaks of hope unaccepted. Drawn from the perspective of looking down at one's own feet it could say something along the lines of "walk, you are closer than you think."

In Stand Still a Moment the protagonists stand face to face, or front to back, one shining her light into the other's 'head' to reveal what appears to be a map of labyrinthine tunnels. Similar maps, numbered variations of Negotiating the Tangle, are hung on the walls standing in as cryptic keys to understanding the work. Inspired by the experience of being lost in an underground station, these drawings depict the external appearance of such stations as imagined from inside. This can be a metaphor for the whole of life, the process of negotiating the tangle - there's never any real enlightenment, just doubt-hampered hunches and faith.

The artworks in Not Holding the String stand as markers in the artist's ongoing exploration of the domestic adventure as a place of frustration. They inhabit a transient place where personal and circumstantial transformations occur in wrestling with the desire for real adventure, balancing our need for contentment and joy with the reality of dissatisfaction and doubt.

Songs Without Names (2nd - 6th Oct 07) reviewed by Stuart Jesson
October 2007

Songs without names consists of a collection of found objects, transformed so as to become figures with their own inner lives and histories. Items of furniture most likely retrieved from skips, basements and attics have been revitalised through being joined with unexpected partners, given horns or lightbulbs, or in one case wrapped in an old sleeping bag. More importantly, these emerging identities are modified and shaped by their relation to others; at the centre of the room a loose collective of these figures are placed so as to mutually support and embrace each other, while others seem to observe sullenly or with longing - from a distance.

Viewed in one way, the collection gently conveys a sense of fragility and peace. An old rusty bucket sits on top of a rickety plastic tripod, gazing down at a mirror-cum-table, shaded in turn by splintered paper parasol, each co-operating with and completing the other. Nearby, an old cabinet entitled Who knows what they put inside us nervously opens one of its doors to expose a tiny crack of light coming from within. On further viewing, however, disturbances emerge. A horned chair kneels nearby the central gathering, but perhaps unwillingly, its front legs may be broken rather than bended, its horns suggesting defiance or jealousy. The attentive gaze of the old bucket may also be a disconcertingly hollow and passive stare.

Most ambiguously, an old sewing machine with a lightbulb attached is loosely wrapped in a orange sleeping bag and is entitled I love you. It sits lifelessly on a metal stand placed on a plinth above all the other pieces, and is the first thing visible on entry. Despite its shapelessness in comparison with the rest of the exhibits, it perhaps provides a focal point for the themes at work in the room. Evoking homelessness or forced migrancy, it suggests the exaltation of the humble - the neglected and forgotten being raised and given centre stage - but equally carries hints of memorial and mourning. Seen in this sense, the whole collection could be seen as a provocation to ask questions of value and neglect, completion and incompletion, gain and loss, both in art and in life.