Archway-based artist Simon Williams’ work questions the relationship that we have with the world, inviting us to rediscover and appreciate beauty in our environment that might otherwise be overlooked. The viewer is encouraged to explore and reappraise objects, textures and surfaces that Simon believes are powerful, “full of history and memories”. He has a deep appreciation for the “accidental aesthetics” created by the city, the marks that industry, commerce and everyday life leave behind.
Whether their origins are in the local streets like the ‘Pavement’ series or in a domestic setting such as the ‘Marking Time’ series, Simon is fascinated with the impact of time on the objects around us. He uses of a wide range of materials and media – including silicone, wood, metal and paper – which reveal the different forms that beauty can take, depending on the relationship the viewer shares with, or the feelings they project onto, those objects. The materials can be industrial, like metal, then subjected to chemical erosion, or created by inks or graphite on paper, recreating natural marks made by time. These works are shown alongside the “ready-mades” or found objects, and demand a response from the viewer.
Engaging with the viewer has always been an important element in Simon’s work. Whilst studying architecture at Liverpool University Simon worked as a pavement artist, and was voted Time Out’s ‘Street Artist of the Year’ in 1987. He also started designing theatre posters for the Liverpool Playhouse, which was the beginning of a successful career in the field, as he subsequently established his own studio which was rebranded as ‘Feast’ in 2005 and is based in Camden. In 2018 the poster image for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ was given the ‘Best Theatre Poster Award’ of all time by ‘What’s on Stage’.
During this time Simon has always had other artistic work going on, whether sculptures, photographic documentary work, a conceptual project called ‘Under the Hammer’ – a project of 17 weekly art auctions inspired by different famous artists – or collaborative work with the JakBox creative team in his Camden studio. He created the ‘Points of View’ concept in 2009 which directs the public’s gaze from the pavement to unusual viewpoints or juxtapositions, turning the urban landscape itself into a work of art. In 2015 JakBox was commissioned by Camden Council to create a ‘Points of View’ in Cobden Junction near Mornington Crescent. Finding interest or beauty in what might otherwise be ignored or considered mundane is also a preoccupation in this highly original show at Highgate Gallery.
See also the website: JakBox.co.uk. Simon has had two short pieces on London Live:
Exhibition continues until 21 March.