The post-industrial landscape of northern England forms the inspiration for Theo Simpson’s (b.1986) innovative blend of photography, sculpture and installation. His current show at Foam Amsterdam, Part and Whole, is the result of winning prestigious funding from the Outset | Unseen Exhibition Fund, which further develops his growing international profile.
Fascinated by the interplay between the built environment, industries, economic developments and political beliefs, he explores the history of his surroundings by documenting their present situation. He believes it is vital not to rely solely on the camera (as he explains in a recent conversation with Unseen, where he explains that he wants to go beyond simply depicting a given setting), and has instead become a passionate collector of archival material. Items that could easily be discarded as miscellanea form the backbone of his practice: from instructional manuals to data sheets, Simpson is a master of mining the seemingly mundane paraphernalia of industry.
The resulting compositions are dynamic and revealing. It is important to note, though, that this methodology is far from fixed. Just as his work explores the results of changing technology and patterns of thought, so too does his output operate in an evolving manner, exploring different means of expressing ideas. He is currently inspired by conversations and collaborations with architects and engineers, and the precision and dedication they bring to their own labour.
At Foam, Simpson makes use of the space itself to further articulate these messages. Many of the pieces are site-specific, in line with his deep interest in the immediate environment. There is a rhythm and a sense of communication running throughout the exhibition: the collection functions, as a whole, in dialogue to explore essential themes of history, landscape and emotional connection to place.
Theo Simpson: Part and Whole runs until 1 April. Find out more here.
1. Theo Simpson, Steel strata Mk 1 Layered hand polished / spray painted laser cut 18 – gauge cold rolled steel sheet (Rover Group Silk green MET body colour / BL Cars Moonraker blue MET body colour) in internally polished mild steel angle iron case 555 x 445 x 20mm.