16 June - 9 July 2017


Simon Newby was born in Winchester in 1978
He studied at University of Brighton and the Royal College of Art
Simon currently lives and works in Norwich



A conversation between Mike Goddard and Simon Newby, Outpost Gallery, 14 June 2017

Mike Goddard: As well as referencing the divan bed base, the red and green structures also bear a strong resemblance to a certain classic design of two-colour pencil eraser, and once this similarity has been recognized it is almost impossible to erase the impression. Is a multiplicity of meanings and readings important to your work?

Simon Newby: It is, but creating a resemblance to a bed or eraser was less important to me than the multiple qualities of the materials and surfaces and the different ways that they could inhabit the space. The stretched cotton reminded me of the matt surface of an eraser, which is partly why I chose those colours, but it was only meant as a suggestion. With these works I’ve been trying to reveal more of the materials and process to the viewer, and this can be interpreted in different ways.  

MG: The flattening of objects into shapes in the white fabric structures recalls other recent works of yours, in which objects are reduced to flat shapes by embedding them in filler. Is it a relationship between object and image that interests you?

SN: Yes. Those polyfiller works played with the depth and colour of the plastic to see how it would look and feel to view objects on one plane.  The cotton has a different effect as it reveals not just the contact point of the object but much more. I like the depth this creates and how the changing light and environment affects the surface.

MG: I wanted to ask you about materials, and particularly your use of plastics - counters, stationery, Lego bricks. What do you look for in a potential art material?

SN: When I first started using plastic I was building very simple patterns to then fill and sand. Initially it was the colour and modular characteristics of the counters and things I collected. When I moved away from just creating patterns and started using objects to think more broadly about surface I started collecting a much wider range of things to work with. Things had to have form but not be too distinct. For instance a plastic comb would be too recognizable and would give the game away. 

MG: The show’s title, Underworld, suggests the unseen and the hidden, interior worlds, and also a nether region - the criminal realm or the mythical abode of the dead. And also a space below a bed where objects might accumulate. What drew you to this title?

SN: It is the hidden element of the title that interested me. The idea of things being unseen but operating in full view. 

MG: One of the principle functions of a set square is to provide fixed and assured spacial relations. Are you seeking to undo this certainty?

SN: I was drawn to the set square because of its material and simple shape. I liked playing with the visibility of this translucent object. The clear Perspex is almost not there and the purpose of the hole is ambiguous.