Writing around Contemporary Art

A Talk by Matthew Collings and Emma Biggs – introduced by Paul Gladston of the University of Nottingham

From catalogue essays and press releases to captions on gallery walls, artists’ statements, grant applications and journalistic reviews, contemporary art is currently surrounded by a vast and ever-expanding constellation of writing. Over the past half-century the use of writing to promote and explain the meaning of contemporary art has become an institutional norm to which artists themselves are now expected to contribute as part of their professional practice.

Matthew Collings and Emma Biggs are successful artists and writers who exhibit paintings together as ‘Biggs and Collings’. Emma Biggs is also a professional mosaic artist. She set up the influential company Mosaic Workshop in 1987, which went on to be the UK’s most thriving mosaic studio. She was been working solo as a mosaicist since 2006. Matthew Collings is well known as a writer and TV broadcaster. His documentaries on art have won many awards including a Bafta. In the 1980s he edited the magazine Artscribe.

In this talk they will discuss their own involvement with writing and the making of art by critically analysing different forms of writing used in support of their work as artists. In doing so, they will offer a wider critique of the contemporary art world, looking towards the negative as well as productive aspects of writing by contemporary artists. The talk will be introduced by Paul Gladston, associate professor of Culture, Film and Media at the University of Nottingham and principal editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.

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